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March 16, 2012

Swarovski Whitechapel Gallery Art + Opera Gala

By Spear's

The Whitechapel Gallery’s annual fundraising gala in partnership with Swarovski celebrated the fusion of art and opera in an event that transformed the Gallery into a spectacular 1920s ballroom

The Whitechapel Gallery’s annual fundraising gala in partnership with Swarovski celebrated the fusion of art and opera in an event that transformed the Gallery into a spectacular 1920s ballroom.

Iwona Blazwick OBE, Whitechapel Gallery Director, Nadja Swarovski, Member of the Swarovski Executive Board and Art Plus Chair Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst welcomed high-profile guests to enjoy an evening of opera and art. Renowned names from the worlds of art, fashion and music including Dinos Chapman, Tracey Emin, Pam Hogg, Beth Orton and Rachel Whiteread dined on a party menu including truffle arancini and chocolate and peanut mille feuille devised by Angela Hartnett with Smart Hospitality and a Wright Brothers oyster bar, whilst sipping on Courvoisier Cha Cha Chas, 69 Colebrooke Row extra dry martinis, prosecco by Laytons, Peroni beers and Firefly Tonics.

An auction led by Sotheby’s Oliver Barker featured works by artists including Jake and Dinos Chapman, Martin Creed, Mona Hatoum, Gabriel Orozco and Simon Starling alongside a ‘Blossom’ chandelier designed by Tord Boontje, donated by Swarovski. A successful auction featured lively bidding wars for works by Gabriel Kuri and Janice Kerbel.

Large-scale artist-designed opera posters by Phillip Allen, Michael Craig-Martin, Sir Howard Hodgkin, Robert Holyhead, Janice Kerbel and Lisa Milroy were specially commissioned by Iwona Blazwick and decorated the main ballroom space, accompanied by three Andy Warhol screen prints from the Swarovski art collection.

Performances of famous opera scenes inspired by art were staged by Alessandro Talevi, accompanied by Renato Balsadonna, Royal Opera Chorus Director on a Steinway Baby Grand piano. Eighteen members of the Royal Opera Chorus started the party with an adaptation of The Auction Scene from Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress with Tenor Luke Price as the Auctioneer. Renditions of scenes from Tosca and La bohème by Puccini culminated in a performance of the ballroom scene from La traviata by Verdi on the main stage, complemented by elegant production design by Event Concept, grand ‘Trilliane’ chandeliers used in the film Black Swan (2010) and a full length crystal curtain formed from hundreds of Swarovski crystal strands.

Penny Fathers DJs in dapper 1920s attire set the mood for the night with Charleston and swing tunes followed by celebrity DJs Dan Lywood and Mourad Mazouz with The MOMO Club, who played a live set in a space installed with stunning vintage neon signs by God’s Own Junkyard.

Swarovski Whitechapel Gallery Art Plus Opera raised £335,000 for the Gallery’s Education programme that works with thousands of children every year.

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Guests included: Ron Arad, David Batchelor, Nikki Bell, Bishi Bhattachary, Lara Bohinc, Andrew Grassie, Robert Holyhead, Alison Jackson, Langlands and Bell, Dan Lywood, Mourad Mazouz, Tim Noble, Laure Prouvost, Yinka Shonibare and Julie Verhoeven.

The Swarovski Whitechapel Gallery Art Plus Opera committee was chaired by Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst and included:

Iwona Blazwick OBE, Whitechapel Gallery Director; Fran Cutler, party planner; Gary Fairfull, Music Curator; Whitney Hintz, Hiscox curator; Dan Lywood, DJ; Elliot McDonald, Pace Gallery curator; Jeremy O’Sullivan, Cultural Attache, European Commission; Dominic Palfreyman, Whitechapel Gallery trustee; Jasmin Pelham, Director Pelham PR; Lauren Prakke, Prakke Contemporary Art; Stan Stalnaker, Director, Hub Culture; Christopher Taylor, Director, Museum 52; Julian Vogel, Director Modus Publicity; Bettina von Hase, Director, Nine AM and Bina von Stauffenberg, Collector and Whitechapel Patron.

The Supporters’ Committee included: Lara Bohinc, Christa Carr, Sadie Coles, Jessica de Rothschild, Amanda Eliasch, Ralph Fiennes, Amy Gadney, Laurence Graff, Angela Hartnett, Mark Hix, Kirsteen Martin, Valeria Napoleone, Tim Noble & Sue Webster, Maureen Paley, Yana Peel, Rosario Saxe-Coburg, Joana Schliemann, Nadja Swarovski, Mario Testino, Rumi Verjee, Alannah Weston and Anita Zabludowicz.

The Honorary Committee included: Fiona Banner, Rafael Bonachela, Shalva Breus, Giles Deacon, Tracey Emin, Emilia Fox, Bobby Gillespie, Jenny Holzer, Christian Marclay, Erdem Moralioglu, Samantha Morton, Jack Peñate, Ed Ruscha, Christopher Simon, Neil Tennant, Mark Titchner, Julie Verhoeven and Duncan Ward.

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