Saturday Night at the Düsseldorf Opera House certainly was Some Enchanting Evening
I was fortunate enough to be part of the audience of the first Aids Gala at the Rhine Opera, under the patronage of Düsseldorf Mayor Dirk Elbers and hosted and curated by Albert Eickhoff, founder of Eickhoff on the Königsallee, the store with the most beautiful windows!
We were treated to an evening of incredible music performed by some big names of the opera world singing a program that crossed Verdi with Dvorak, Tschaikowsky and Rodgers. Beautifully accompanied by The Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra and The Chorus of the Rhine Opera who quite obviously really enjoyed being part of this charity gala.
As glitzily German celebrities and politicians took their seats in the house, Herr Eickoff conveyed a very serious message to us all:
Aids is not going away.
Aids remains a tragic topic, but one that has simply been pushed on the back burner as economic crisis and climate change dominate the media.
Of course we can all argue whether it really makes sense to juxtapose dying children with such a glamourous event. I completely share this view - and yet - it does raise awareness once again. These events do raise a lot of money. People are helped. Without these events Aids would sadly be just another story.
Every week in Düsseldorf someone is diagnosed HIV.
Every 77 minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed HIV positive.
It is not just a problem of the third world or minority groups.
The facts in Africa are staggering: a child dies every two minutes in as a result of Aids.
We were shown a film from Mozambique where a program supported by the German Aids Foundation can help bring a healthy child to the world whose mother is HIV positive. For €650 the mother and child can be treated with medication that in most cases, ensures that the child is born HIV free.
I urge you today to give to an Aids support program. You can donate online here, this is all in German, or search for your own country's Aids programs and foundations and please donate online now. For instance to the UK's Terrence Higgins Trust.
The money raised at last night's gala, over €130,000, is going to help Aids patients in Düsseldorf and Dream (drug resource enhancement against aids and malnutrition) of the Deutsche AIDS-Stiftung.
On this Sunday, but not only today, please embrace "Tue Gutes und habe Freude daran" - the motto of last night's gala.
Robert Mapplethorpe died of Aids in 1989.
30 cents of every entry fee to the Robert Mapplethorpe Retrospective at the NRW-Forum will go the the Hope Foundation.