|Florida Grand Opera opened its 67th anniversary year with a new production of Mozart’s Così fan tutte, featuring Grammy Award winning Puerto Rican soprano, Ana Maria Martinez, and acclaimed Israeli mezzo-soprano, Rinat Shaham.
A glamorous on stage dinner-dance followed the performance, celebrating the fusion of high fashion, costume design, and the world of grand opera.
In celebration of the artistic collaborations that enable the production of grand opera, the 67th Opening Night Gala showcased the works of five locally-celebrated, leading fashion designers (whose pieces were accompanied by Graff jewels): Mayda Cisneros, Julian Chang, Victoria Lopez Castro, Ivonne de la Vega, and Sylvia Tcherassi.
Lynn Wolfson served as Honorary Chair for the event. Co-chairs were Donald and (the late) B. Carlin, Stephen A. Keller and Lesleen Bolt, Mr. and Mrs. Marvin Leibowitz, Mr. and Mrs. David Melin, Mr. and Mrs. Laurans A. Mendelson, Charles E. Porter and Rosie Pachon, and Dr. and Mrs. Morton J. Robinson.
|Florida Grand Opera was formed in June 1994 by the merger of Greater Miami Opera, founded in 1941, and Opera Guild of Fort Lauderdale, founded in 1945. Celebrating its 67th season of continuous performances, Florida Grand Opera stands as one of the oldest performing arts organizations in Florida. In addition to producing standard repertoire, Florida Grand Opera also presents lesser known operas, as well as commissioning and producing new operas. Annually, performances are attended by over 110,000 people, and its education and outreach programs serve over 50,000 students. FGO offers several highly successful outreach and educational programs, including its internationally-recognized Young Artist Studio. Founded in 1984, the program attracts young singers who train and enhance their professional skills during a 35-week Miami residency.|
|Down in Houston, Carolyn Farb hosted a luncheon in honor of Jenna Bush’s newly published book, Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope, based on the 26-year-old Bush’s work with UNICEF. The book is written for teen and young adult readers and is based on the life of Ana, a 17-year-old single mother living with HIV/AIDS. Jenna and Ana met at a community support group while Jenna was interning with UNICEF’s regional office for Latin America and the Caribbean. For more than 60 years, UNICEF has been the world’s leading international children’s organization, working in over 150 countries to address the ongoing issues that affect why kids are dying.|
|More from Houston: An extraordinary evening recently took place at the Hotel ZaZa where Houston was introduced to two women who have recently made history. Marilyn Wilhelm, Founder-Director of Wilhelm Schole International, hosted the dinner honoring Qiao Hong, first woman Consul General from China in the history of the United States and Alexandra Theodoropoulou, first woman Consul General of Greece in the history of Houston.
This magical evening celebrated the differences between the East and West and how these differences create an unforgettable harmony. No detail was overlooked, from the enchanting floral arrangements provided by Jeff Bradley, which combined roses, bamboo and olive branches, all symbolic forms of wisdom, to the authentic Chinese and Greek dances performances by Dance of Asian America and the Olympian Dancers, arranged by Jefferson Todd Frazier, Executive Director of Young Audiences of Houston.
|Mayor Bill White issued a proclamation, presented by former Texas Secretary of State, Jeffrey Conner, declaring October 25, 2007 Consul General Qiao Hong and Consul General Alexandra Theodoropoulou day in the City of Houston. Ms. Wilhelm also took this opportunity to share news of the Confucius and Socrates Project, which involves three pairs of life-size bronze statues of Confucius and Socrates: one pair for Athens, Greece, one pair for Beijing, China in 2008 and one pair for the United Nations in New York in 2009.
The statues were inspired by the theme of the XXIX Olympiad One World One Dream. This project provides a golden opportunity to honor Confucius and Socrates and the unchanging principles of civilized life as taught by these two most revered teachers of the East and the West.
|Oscar award winning Daniel Day-Lewis and Rebecca Miller hosted Grand Classics screening of the cult drama If at the exclusive Les Ottomans Hotel in Istanbul over the weekend of September 28th-30th.
The screening was followed by an after party with belly dancers and Turkish music. There was a dinner party at Ulus 29, a boat trip on the Bosporus, guided tours of the Byzantium exhibits, The Spice Market, Grand Bazaar and other Istanbul landmarks. These excursions were sponsored by Vakko.
Filmmakers currently on the Grand Classics committee include Nicole Kidman, Sir Michael Caine, Robert Altman, Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Spacey, Rupert Everett, Susan Sarandon, Meryl Streep, Robin Williams, Jeremy Irons, Sydney Pollack, Jim Broadbent, Alan Rickman, Natascha McElhone, Rhys Ifans, Mike Figgis and others.
|Photographs by Kim Coffman (Unicef)|