The Viennese Opera Ball Hosted 66th Annual Charity Celebration

Lillian Langtry
5 min readMay 25, 2022
Viennese Opera Ball ©Patrick McMullan

Gala Benefited Music Therapy Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

The Viennese Opera Ball — the oldest and most prestigious outside of Vienna — held its annual celebration for the 66th year at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City under the auspices of the U.S. Austrian Chamber of Commerce. The gala benefited the music therapy program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center with support from Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research. The Gala chair for the evening was philanthropist Jean Shafiroff. The vice chairs were Sylvia Hemingway and Peter Thomas Roth. A special thank you goes to Ernst Woller, President of the Vienna Provincial Parliament, and the continuous support of the City of Vienna.

Jean Shafiroff, Silvia Frieser ©Patrick McMullan

Some notable attendees included: President of the Viennese Opera Ball Silvia Frieser, event chair and philanthropist Jean Shafiroff, Artistic Director of the Viennese Opera Ball Daniel Serafin, President of the Vienna Provincial Parliament Ernst Woller, Peter Thomas Roth, Martin Shafiroff, Winemaker Leo Hillinger, owner of A.E. Köchert Jewelers Wolfgang Koechert, Iurii Samoilov, Carolina López Moreno, Lilah Ramzi of Vogue Magazine, Emily Mohr, Cole Rumbough, Patricia Shiah, Mrs. Brookfield, Ana Stone, Scott Stone, Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin, Maria Fishel, Kenneth Fishel, Maribel Lieberman, Nicole Salmasi, Alice Lutz, Annabel Oreste.

The evening started with delightful VIP cocktail hour followed by the formal presentation. Just as in Europe, the celebration commenced with their Debutantes. The theme of this year’s ball was ‘A Night of Love,’ with the goal of sending peace and love to their guests and the world, as well as celebrating the love and friendship of Austrian-American friends and connections. Royal Flowers, in collaboration with Luz Flora, donated 20,000 red roses to emphasize the night’s theme. A donation table was set up to collect funds for Caritas Ukraine.

Leo Hillinger, Silvia Frieser, Ernst Woller, Wolfgang Koechert ©Patrick McMullan

For the first time, the Viennese Opera Ball had a new Austrian wine sponsor, Leo Hillinger Wine. Winemaker Leo Hillinger was also present at the ball. Another event sponsor was Austria’s oldest jewelry designer, A.E. Köchert, and owner Mr. Wolfgang Koechert, who presented the magnificent diamond ‘Sisi’ star brooch at the live auction.

Top opera stars Carolina López Moreno, Iurii Samoilov, Johanna Will, Matthew White, and Donata D’Annunzio Lombardi performed at the 66th Viennese Opera Ball. Iurii Samoilov also performed a moving tribute to his homeland Ukraine, singing a folk song to remind guests of the terrible situation in Ukraine, the importance of remembering what is going on in that part of the world, and to help raise funds during the evening. The Viennese Opera Ball Orchestra was led by conductor Vinicius Kattah.

The annual white tie charity gala honors Austria and America’s cultural and economic ties, uniting two continents, two cities, and two centuries in one glamorous evening. It was founded 66 years ago by Austrian immigrants to the United States as a tribute to both their former hometown Vienna and their host city, New York. The gala attracts an international audience that includes diplomats and dignitaries, international corporations, and professionals.

Jean Shafiroff, Peter Thomas Roth, Silvia Frieser ©Patrick McMullan

About Leo Hillinger: “More than wine” is more than just a slogan for us. These are the three words that together best describe the philosophy by which we live. It is based on the love of working with wine grapes, love of Burgenland and of our wines, which is reflected in every element of our activities — carefully and passionately implemented by the individuals working at Winery Leo Hillinger in Jois. For more information, please visit:

About the ‘Sisi’ star brooch by A.E. Köchert: The magnificent ‘Sisi’ star brooch was designed as a tribute to Empress Elisabeth (Sisi) of Austria. The star in 18kt white gold with total weight 1,30ct diamonds can be worn as a brooch, pendant or hairpin. Size: 1 inch diameter. The stars of Empress Elisabeth of Austria and Queen of Hungary by marriage to Emperor Franz Joseph I, are amongst the most famous pieces of Austrian jewelry. Sisi possessed 27 of these diamond stars, which she could wear as a necklace, a diadem, or as pendants, brooches and hair accessories. Alexander Köchert, jeweler to the Imperial and Royal Court, designed and made most of these stars for the empress. A.E. Köchert is one of the oldest jewelers in Austria, founded by Jakob Heinrich Köchert in 1814 and named the ‘Imperial and Royal Court Jeweler’ in 1831.

About the Viennese Opera Ball: Since 1955, the Viennese Opera Ball in New York has been a representative of Vienna’s cultural legacy, elegance, and glamour in the Big Apple. The Ball operates as a cultural platform and builds bridges to connect present day New York City with 19th Century Vienna, and people of varying heritages, continents, and generations, to bring traditional glamour to the city that never sleeps.

For more information, please visit:

Facebook: @vienneseoperaball

Instagram: @vienneseoperaball

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Iurii Samoilov ©Patrick McMullan
Viennese Opera Ball ©Patrick McMullan



Lillian Langtry

Lillian Langtry is a freelance writer covering the latest events, hot spots, charities, influencers, beauty trends and more, from NYC to the Hamptons.