On Friday, May 2, Lyric Opera of Chicago's Women's Board hosted what has become an annual tradition: a gala dinner in honor of Lyric's American Musical Theater Initiative."An Evening of Austrian Elegance" celebrated the culture and cuisine of Austria. And event co-chairs Alison McNally  and Eileen Murphy took the theme and ran with it.

On Friday, May 2, Lyric Opera of Chicago's Women's Board hosted what has become an annual tradition: a gala dinner in honor of Lyric's American Musical Theater Initiative.

"An Evening of Austrian Elegance" celebrated the culture and cuisine of Austria. Guests embraced the gala's theme by wearing dirndls and lederhosen and enjoyed traditional Austrian music and delicious Austrian fare. Naturally, event co-chairs Alison McNally and Eileen Murphy took the theme and ran with it.

One of The Sound of Music's most famous moments is when Maria makes play clothes for the von Trapp children out of the old curtains in her bedroom. Before the beginning of the 2013-14 season, the William B. and Catherine Graham Room was renovated with the support of Lyric's Women's Board. As luck would have it, during the renovation process, the curtains were saved.

When planning began in earnest for this year's Women's Board bash, Alison and Eileen joked that they should make dresses out of the old Graham Room curtains. What began as a joke was eventually, with the help of dressmakers Mimi Papavasiliou and Kelly Abrams, turned into reality. The elegant dark green fabric was turned into chic cocktail dresses for Alison and Eileen. There was even enough fabric to make dresses for their daughters and ties for their husbands!

The custom-made outfits were the talk of the party. And, as Alison says, now they have beautiful, one-of-a-kind dresses for Christmas and St. Patrick's Day!

Here's a look at curtains in the Graham Room before renovation:

Photo credits:

  • Event co-chairs Alison McNally and Eileen Murphy and daughters (credit Jaclyn Simpson / Lyric Opera of Chicago)
  • William B. and Catherine Graham Room before 2013 renovation (courtesy Lyric Opera of Chicago)