What a night! I had the best time last night at opening night of Rigoletto at The Dallas Opera. With its red carpet premiere, after party, and reputation for being one of the fashion events of the season, I could not have been more excited to experience it for myself! Huge thank you to The Dallas Opera for hosting me. My friend Hannah had never been to an opera before so I was also particularly excited to introduce her to one of my favorite forms of art.
We arrived hours early and parked in the Red Lexus Garage (so convenient) and took the glass elevator up to the street level to find the biggest red carpet I’ve ever seen. When The Dallas Opera says something is a red carpet event, they’re not kidding around. Stretching from the street to the Winspear Opera House and at least ten feet wide, this was a carpet worthy of a Hollywood premiere! We gleefully took ample amounts of photos in the daylight before anyone else arrived before walking over to dinner.
Right across the street is a new Dallas hot spot: La Stella Cucina Versace. I thought Italian food sounded perfetto before our Italian opera but I was pleasantly surprised to see that I wasn’t the only one who thought that. The majority of the restaurant patrons were in black tie on their way to the opera after dinner! I love that Flora Street has so many options that you can walk to before a show.
La Stella couldn’t have been more festive for the occasion with red velvet couches, leather chairs, and lush indigo carpet. They even have opera art on the walls and a few opera specials on the menu!
We both ordered a Via Flora 23, a delightfully zesty lemon cocktail with Empress 1903 Gin, Italicus (a citrus aperitif), lemon, lavender, egg white, and creme de violette, and we split the Calamari Ripieni, grilled calamari stuffed with ricotta served wtih potatoes, tomatoes, and spicy olives.
This calamari is reason enough to go to La Stella! It’s not every day you find calamari on a menu that isn’t fried and this dish was an explosion of Mediterranean flavors. We ate every bite!
For dinner, I ordered Genovese della mamma, housemade pasta with braised short rib and parmesan, with a glass of Nebbiolo, a pairing suggested by my server that beautifully complimented the short rib. We also split the truffle risotto, one of La Stella’s opera specials. I loved the truffle flavor and the meaty mushrooms but it could have been a bit creamier for my taste.
After dinner, we ordered the Tante Palle, an impressive tower of profiteroles stuffed with a nutella and cream filling and served with rich chocolate sauce. I don’t even like profiteroles but I LOVED this dessert. Every profiterole I’ve ever eaten has paled in comparison with La Stella’s heavenly hazelnut poofs.
We also got to try the tiramisu, which I adored. I’m quite picky about tiramisu (why do American restaurants tend to put so much alcohol in it?!) but this tiramisu was fantastic, especially washed down with a cup of coffee.
By now it was about 7:30 pm, the perfect time to stroll back over to the Winspear before the show started at 8 pm. We picked up our tickets at Will Call and oohed and ahhed over the gorgeous dresses. I just love people watching at fashion events like this! We headed into the house and our jaws dropped when we realized we had second row tickets.
I gasped when the curtain rose and I saw the grandeur of the set. This is exactly how I want my opera to be: a spectacle for the eyes and ears. The set was massive so imagine my surprise when it rotated. A turntable! It’s so rare to see a turntable on stage. The Dallas Opera spared no expensive with this production.
I had never seen Rigoletto before but I’m so pleased that this was Hannah’s first opera because what a wonderful first show! It really has it all: amazing solos, famous operatic numbers, love, betrayal, and a twenty-minute death aria. Even as an opera fan, I admit that some shows have a rather simple plot but in Rigoletto, no scene is wasted. I was shocked at how quickly the 2 hour, 40 minute run time flew by.
After the show, which received an enthusiastic standing ovation from a packed house, we walked back into the lobby to discover charcuterie snacks and a swing band rocking the night away at the opening night after-party. This action-packed opera runs through October 16th and will make you laugh and cry! This is one of the best operas I’ve ever seen and I can’t recommend it enough. Get tickets here.