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It only happens once a year, and when it does, it hits you like a ton of bricks. We're talking about the Lyric Opera's ever popular Fantasy of the Opera. Each year, the Guild Board of the Lyric (this year's chairpeople being Courtney Rosen and David Valkema) plan an elaborate, themed fundraising gala for Chicago's avid opera-going crowd, which normally nets more than $450K as it did this year. It's been dubbed the "hottest party in the coldest month," and for good reason. The interior of the Civic Opera House was practically unrecognizable, as the foyer had been transformed into the Champs Elysee and other streets of Paris with a decidedly 1920s flair. It was as if we'd stepped back in time to an era of film noir, flappers and white-faced mimes. Parisian street cafes made an appearance, and so did many restaurants. Divided into Left Bank and Right Bank restaurants, and spanning both the ground and mezzanine levels of the opera house, guests had plenty to eat, as well as see and do.
In addition to the numerous food stations, guests were treated to henna artists, a photo booth, a caricature artist and tarot card reader. The Moulin Rouge lounge on the lower level was a popular stop as well, with its sultry lighting and sexy Grand Marnier cocktails. Mimes were interspersed throughout the house to provide silent entertainment, and the 10-piece band, appropriately titled Rendezvous Music, cranked out some amazing golden oldies as well as new pop hits. But the biggest attractions were the fab cabaret performances, and of course, the fashion. We don't think there's any other gala in Chicago whose patrons take dress code so seriously. Many women donned their feathers, pearls, headbands and sparkly dresses, while men were decked out in tails, top hats and bow ties. We felt as if we were truly transported to another time. If you're nostalgic for a glamorous time of yesteryear, we suggest checking out the photo gallery for a sneak peek into the past.
· Lyric Opera of Chicago [Official Site]