Once per year, the luxurious setting of the Vienna State Opera transforms into the most famous venue in the world. This year, it happened on Thursday 8 February, on the day when one of the most anticipated balls of the season took place here, as proven by the immense international interest.
It is a special night not only for the young debutantes and their escorts. Luxurious gowns, stunning hairdos, flawless makeup, handsome men, glitter and shine everywhere the eye can see. Add delightful music, selected delicacies, astounding floral decoration: welcome to the magical world of luxury elegance!
For this one day, this single night, the entire opera house gets an entirely new, stunning look. Several weeks before the ball begins, renovation works are carried out. The seats are removed, the floor is polished, the stage modified, the hallways decorated and new bars installed. The floral décor is always installed at the last moment, to ensure that the blossoms are fresh and create a beautiful backdrop for the entire setting.
A new wave of energy came with the new organiser Maria Grossbauer, who took up her position only last year. Thanks to her creativity and countless idea, luxurious renovations were carried out and entirely new room designs created.
There were many celebrities and famous personalities attending the ball. In addition to the Austria president, Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko was also in attendance and an activist from the FEMEN movement came “with him”. The elegant atmosphere was somewhat disrupted by her bare top and the rather unflattering message addressed to the Ukrainian president: Poroshenko - Get the Fuck Out of the Ball. On the red carpet, the activist Alisa Vinogradova informed attendees at the ball that it is impermissible for somebody like Poroshenko, who is accused of embezzlement, to sit at an aristocratic table.
However, it was not the first time similar negative reactions to the ball or during it have appeared. Almost every year, attendees are witness to various protests, e.g. concerning the wearing of real fur. Yet luxury and elegance are a natural part of this ball.
Among the important political guests were the mayor of Vienna Michael Häupl, Austria chancellor Sebastian Kurz and other local government representatives; state secretary of the Federal Ministry of Interior Karoline Edtstadler, minister Gernot Blümel, Elisabeth Köstinger from the Austrian Popular Party and Johann Gudenus from the Liberal Party.
Naturally, there was a great number of artists representing the Austrian and international scene. Acclaimed opera singer Valentina Nafornita with popular tenor Pavol Breslik, ballerina Liudmila Konovalova, actress and singer Maxi Blaha, model Barbora Maier escorted by businessman Klemens Hallmann, German actor Hainer Lauerbach, actress Silvia Schneider, writer Waris Dirie or the famous Dj Ötzi. Other posing for photographers included cultural manager Daniel Serafin with singer Hareld Serafin or actor Gregor Bloeb with artist Nina Proll. Outstanding robes were worn by fashion designer Eva Poleschinská and singer Dorretty Carter in a golden gown by designer Maurizio Giambra.
Among the many guests, the ball also hosted the wife of deceased billionaire Karl Flick or the heiresses to the jewellery empire Alexandra and Nadja Swarovski. For the entire time, guests were welcomed by the director of the State Opera Dominique Meyer. And he didn’t get a break! The flow of famous faces seemed infinite.
The tiaras for the debutantes come from the workshop of luxury brand Dolce & Gabbana. The amazing piece was inspired by Mozart’s opera Le Nozze di Figaro, and consists of a floral design where the delicate blossoms intertwine with the leaves using 702 Swarovski crystals.
Traditionally, the ball starts with a fanfare, followed by the Austrian hymn and the European hymn. The ball was opened by the ballet ensemble of the State Opera, presenting soloists Olga Esina, Marra Yakovleva, Robert Gabdullin and Romana Lazik. The Vienna Opera orchestra was conducted by Frédérick Chaslin, and the entire choir as well as soloists like star tenor Pavol Breslik presented their artistry.
1300 bottles of sparkling wine and champagne
900 bottles of wine
900 bottles of beer
1300 portions of goulash soup
320 catering staff
171 bouquets and 480 floral arrangements
The transformation of the opera house into a ballroom took 30 hours, and will take 21 hours to dismount. The ball was attended by 122 debutante pairs aged 17 to 24 years.