The Butterfly Ball

Florida Grand Opera celebrates its 79th Anniversary Season

Florida Grand Opera hosted an enchanting Butterfly Ball Gala on the evening of January 18, 2020.  FGO’s 79th annual gala drew its inspiration from Puccini’s exotic opera Madama Butterfly. Gala Chair Tina Vidal-Duart, and Co-chair Dr. Linda Balent, transformed the stage of the Ziff Opera House at the Arsht Center into a Japanese inspired setting for the magnificent event. The tables were decorated with bougainvillea trees, textured moss green linens, with gold-rimmed chargers and plates. Stemware was provided by Reidel. The guests were just steps away from the Madama Butterfly set.

Carlos Duart and Tina Vidal-Duart
Dr. Alvan Balent and Dr. Linda Balent

The 140 guests enjoyed a cocktail reception featuring prosecco from by Dall’Armellina Vineyards, cocktails by Bacardi, and wines by Penfolds; all gala sponsors.  Guests posed for portraits by Downtown Photography, and traveled through an array of luxury items and opportunities available through a silent auction. Guests then enjoyed the opening night performance of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. After the performance, gala guests enjoyed cocktails, and hors d’ oeuvres inspired by the flavors of Japan. Guests were escorted on stage for a sumptuous dinner beginning with a Salad Course of “Wafu” Wedge Salad-Iceberg Lettuce, Carrot, Ginger, Beansprout.  Entree Options included, Jasmine Poached Chicken, Pear Dashi, Lotus Root, Dandelion Greens, Soy Braised Shortrib, Charred Scallion, Puffed Rice, Charcoal Fired “Kabayaki” Snapper, Yuzu Ponzu, Shiitake, Miso Radish, and Sweet and Sour Eggplant, Goma-ae Spinach, Pumpkin Puree, Maitake Mushroom.  The Dessert Course featured Japanese Vanilla Custard, Miso Caramel, Nama Chocolate Fudge. Penfolds Fine Wine Ambassador, Charlotte Rawa, explained the wine pairing as dinner began.

Sergey Ponyatovsky and Tatiana Poniatowski
Robin Blackwell and Per-Olof Loof

Guests enjoyed to the sounds of Mirage while they danced the evening away. The evening also featured a video presentation featuring FGO’s Studio Artists.  The chant of auctioneer Justin Moss lead to the sale of several live auction and once in a lifetime experiences, such as The Ultimate Hamilton Experience on Broadway, featuring a private in-theater meet-and-greet and dinner with the cast; 100-Level tickets to the LIV Superbowl with VIP access; Andrea Bocelli in concert in Paris to include a five-night stay and private tour of the Louvre; Lady Gaga in Concert with a two-night stay at the Bellagio in Las Vegas; Baltic and Icelandic Cruises featuring beautiful St. Petersburg and volcanic and glacial tours.

Alejandro Zaldivar and Adam Sochet

Other event sponsors included Vhernier Milano and Greenberg Traurig. Members of the host committee included: Dr. Alvan and Dr. Linda Balent, Carla D’Andre and David Trietel, Mr. and Mrs. Victor Mendelson, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Werner, Mr. Carlos Duart and Mrs. Tina Vidal-Duart.

Each year, FGO brings live opera performances to more than 20,000 elementary, middle, and high school students across Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe counties. Proceeds from the gala support FGO’s mission-driving Artistic Programming, Arts Education, and Community Engagement Programs, which expose children and families to music and the arts.

To learn more about Florida Grand Opera’s community programs, and for information about upcoming events and performances, visit

Bonnie Shapiro and Fred Shapiro
Carla D'Andre and David Treitel
Larry Kamin and Jackie Kamin
Robert Werner and Florence Werner
Ellen Silverman and Mark Silverman and Beth Holland
Charlotte Rawa and John Lowe
Robert Sturgeon and Isabel Sturgeon
Phillip Evans and Margo Evans
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