People: Opera Ball: The Happy Liars Dance with Priscilla Presley

People Opera Ball: Happy Liar dances with Priscilla Presley

Priscilla Presley was Richard Lughner's star guest at this year's Opera Ball. Photograph

© Eva Manhart/APA/dpa

Vienna is famous for its balls. The most popular one attracted more than 5,000 guests on Thursday, who paid up to 24,500 euros per box. The highest earners are among themselves in opera.

First a small talk with Austria's Federal President Alexander von der Bellen in his box, then straight to the stage of the State Opera to dance with their host, Richard “Martel” Luchner. For Priscilla Presley, attending the Vienna Opera Ball was a connection to a distant world. “It's so beautiful here, so emotional somehow. We don't have anything like this in Los Angeles,” the widow of rock'n'roll legend Elvis told ORF. Toward the end of the evening, the 78-year-old took a few slow laps with Luckner to Sinatra Evergreen's “Strangers in the Night” in the flashing lights of photographers. Lugner, 91, beamed from ear to ear.

The 66th Vienna Opera once again sent out a signal to a world in crisis: traditional and festive, the celebration of the rich and beautiful and the self-respecting still exists, against which only a few communist youths quietly protested. The doors protested. “It's nice to have this ball, especially now in difficult times. You have to focus on the beautiful to amplify the beauty,” fashion designer and opera ball regular Harald Klögler told TV. “The question is always: Do you need more opera ball? Yes, of course you do, because you want beautiful things.”

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24,500 euros for the most expensive box

This time the festival opened with, among others, opera arias sung by Latvian star mezzo-soprano Elena Karanka. The 5,150 guests, who paid 385 euros for entry tickets and 24,500 euros for the most expensive box, listened reverently and ecstatically. Among the audience were folk musician Heino and comedian Oliver Boucher as a guest of entrepreneur Markus Dueslin, who invited Italian movie star Franco Nero (“Django”) to his box. The call to Heino was intended to distract from the loss of his wife, Hannelore, who had died three months earlier.

“Hannelore would be happy to see me here now. She would never have banned me. That's why I went here with a good feeling,” said Heino on ORF. But the 85-year-old has no desire to dance. He is one of the worst dancers. “I don't dance because I always play music, I'm not into it.”

Lugner described Presley as a “dream girl”.

Boucher had his ex-wife, Sandy Meyer-Wolden, by his side. Both were very compatible. Bocher, usually never one to lose a bold word, is very modest. Everything is wonderful. “No incidents, everyone is chilling with me.” The comedian struggled with a very thick voice, especially before a special trip: an appearance at the Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas scheduled 24 hours after the opera ball. “Opera Ball today, Las Vegas tomorrow, that's how crazy my life is,” the 45-year-old said.

In Lukner's neighboring box, top male model Papis Loveday caught the spotlight. The 47-year-old from Senegal wore a very eye-catching headdress that resembled a bejeweled carnival mask.

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From Lukner's point of view, Priscilla Presley was a direct hit, inviting prominent guests to her box for an unknown amount of money over 30 years. “A dream girl. She's very strong,” the businessman enthused about the American, who managed to exude charisma despite her reserved, almost frozen expression. It was a short night for Priscilla Presley. Like Bocher, he had to catch a flight to America around 7 a.m. on Friday.


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