A Triumphant Return of La Bella Notte  for the Nashville Opera

The Nashville Opera returned to the stage in stunning black-tie fashion for La Bella Notte. The annual fund-raiser, which went virtual last year, returned as an in-person event, switching venues this year to the new Grand Hyatt Nashville.

The Nashville Opera wisely tapped Jay Jones and Rob Turner to chair the event, and this dynamic duo planned a Fantôme de l’Opéra theme for the night. Never ones to shy away from going the extra mile, Jay and Rob incorporated the evening’s signature scarlet color into their tuxes, and Rob spent most of the night in a gold and burgundy bedazzled phantom mask. In addition to the tried-and-true Nashville Opera supporters, the crowd was filled with many new faces who showed up to support the couple and the cause.

The format of the event — which has always included a multicourse dinner with operatic performances between each course — remained the same, but Jay and Rob seated the room in the round so everyone had a great view of the stage. Not surprisingly, in keeping with the theme, a crystal chandelier hung above the stage, dark when guests first took their seats but blazing to life when the first performance — a lovely rendition of “All I Ask of You” from The Phantom of the Opera — began.

One of the more fun elements this year was an aria auction. In addition to bidding on a few fabulous trips and dinners, guests had the chance to bid on a tableside performance. Between each course, an aria was auctioned to the crowd — “Maria” from West Side Story, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music” and “Nessun Dorma” from Turandot — to be performed to the highest bidder. In a moving moment toward the end of the night, soprano Emma Grimsley, who played Christine in the North American tour of The Phantom of the Opera, surprised Jay with a tableside rendition of “Think of Me,” which had been coordinated by Rob.

The evening ended, as always, with a sing-along to “La Bella Notte,” capping a lovely night with the Nashville Opera and their many enthusiastic supporters.