New York Social Diary Reports: Fund-raising benefits in Washington and Chicago rank right up there with New York raising millions for cultural and community projects.
Pulling up to Villa Firenze for the National Opera's 48th annual Opera Ball in Washington, D.C.

This past June 9th, the Washington National Opera held its 48th annual Opera Ball hosted by His Excellency the Ambassador of Italy and Mrs. Castellaneta at their official residence, Villa Firenze.

“A Venetian Ball at Villa Firenze” was the theme, as 550 opera supporters danced and dined in Italian splendor to benefit Washington National Opera. Opera Trustee and Executive Committee Member Betty Knight Scripps served as General Chairman of the Ball, where she has raised record-breaking proceeds for the company.

The evening began with one of Washington’s most coveted invitations -- pre-Ball dinner parties graciously sponsored by the diplomatic corps of the nation’s capital. This year, 26 ambassadors hosted dinners at their official residences, including ambassadors from Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, France, Hungary, India, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, the Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Romania, Spain, and Turkey.

Following the dinner parties, the opera patrons gathered for the Ball at Villa Firenze. Arriving on the candlelit drive, strains of mandolin music welcomed guests inside where they were greeted by liveried footmen dressed in ivory brocade and powdered wigs. In honor of the famous seafood of Venice, Eric Michael of Occasions Caterers created a fantasy dessert buffet of chocolate centered on a large chocolate clamshell surrounded by chocolate sea fans, conch shells, and whimsical sea life.

Betty Knight Scripps
Wilma Bernstein and Mrs. Farouki
Calvin and Jane Cafritz

Designer Philip Baloun’s vision captured the atmosphere of Venice with amber light and mirrored mobiles reflecting blue swags hung between massive columns. Peonies, roses, and hydrangea in all shades of ivory and white decorated the tables.

Anne and Clay Johnson

A ballroom tent extending from Villa Firenze’s huge slate terrace was an evocative site for dancing to the music of New York’s Bob Hardwick and his Orchestra. In this enchanted setting, Greg and Laura Lane, Cathy Hardwick, Ann Jordan, The Honorable Selwa “Lucky” Roosevelt, Victoria Sant, Samia Farouki, Gregory Gingery, Mandell and Mary Ourisman, Opera Chairman John Pohanka and his wife Lynn, Guiseppe and Mercedes Cecchi and several members of their family, including son John Cecchi, incoming WNO President Ken Feinberg and his wife Dede, Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder and his wife Tanya, The Honorable TogoWest and his wife Gail, and Peter and Ann Tanous danced the night away.

Among the distinguished guests were many members of the government, including Justice Anthony Kennedy and Mrs. Kennedy, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Professor Ginsburg, Justice Antonin Scalia and Mrs. Scalia, Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez and Mrs. Gutierrez, Secretary of Transportation Norm Mineta and Mrs. Mineta, Senator Robert Bennett and Mrs. Bennett, Senator Thad Cochran, Senator Richard Shelby and Mrs. Shelby, Senator George Voinovich and Mrs. Voinovich, Congressman Norm Dicks and Mrs. Dicks, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Edmund Giambastiani and Mrs. Giambastiani, and The White House’s Clay Johnson and Mrs. Johnson.

Ken Feinberg and Mike Sonnenreich
Justice Anthony Kennedy with Mrs. Kennedy
John and Lynn Pohanka
Ambassador Said T. Jawad and Shamim Jawad with Isabel and Ricardo Ernst
Sheila Jahan and daughter Sahar
Mary and Mandy Ourisman
Ambassador Giovanni Castellaneta and Lila Castellaneta
Rima Al-Sabah
John Cecchi
Mrs. and Senator Thad Cochran
Michael and Julie Connors
Mercedes and Giuseppe Cecchi
Marie-Cecile Levitte and Ambassador Jean-David Levitte
Justice Antonin Scalia with Mrs. Scalia
Rev. and Mrs. Samuel Lloyd
Carlos Gutierrez and Mrs. Gutierrez
Mark Shapiro and Dan Snyder
Deni Mineta, Admiral and Mrs. Edmund Giambastiani, and Secretary Norman Mineta
Peter and Carolyn Manos
Gail and Togo West
Julia and Will Taft
L. to r.: Ken and Dottie Woodcock; Ambassador Ronen Sen with Mrs. Sen; Lucky Roosevelt.

At the Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield, Illinois, the Chicago Zoological Society held its 25th anniversary “Whirl” several weeks ago, chaired by Kathryn Shaffer, with almost 800 guests attending. Angel (Mrs. Paul) Harvey was honorary chair. The fundraiser which was hosted by the Society’s Women’s Board highlighted the zoo’s “Stars of the Silvery Seas,” as well as its newest initiative, the Center for the Science of Animal Well-Being.

The black-tie gala began at the Seven Seas exhibit with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres among the evening’s stars – Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, sea lions, and harbor seals. Margarita, a Humboldt penguin (endangered) made a special appearance in the Dolphinarium where she brought down the house.

In the dinner tent, the décor was created by Flower Firm which worked with the zoo’s nutritionists to select centerpiece arrangements, some of which were later fed to several of the zoo’s animals. The dinner menu was also chosen with ocean conservation in mind and in accordance with the Blue Ocean Institute’s “Guide to Ocean Friendly Seafood.” The music was provided by landlubbing bi-peds carrying musical instruments, the Stu Hirsch Orchestra.

The Gala grossed $1.53 million with proceeds benefiting the Chicago Zoological Society’s Center for the Science of Animal Well-Being. The center is fundamental to the Society’s continuing efforts to advance the care of animal wildlife.

Stuart Strahl, Kate Shaffer, and Fred Krehbiel
Joseph and Susan Ahern
L. to r.: Shirley Daly, Carlos Manuel, Maria Elena Sada, and Patrick F. Daly; Jeff Hagedurm and Susan Carlson.
Clockwise from top left: Dennis Keller, Temp Keller, Connie Keller, and The Hon. Daniel Lipinski; Patrick F. Daly, Cynthia and Angelo Kleronomos, and Joseph and Susan Ahern; Bill Kurtis, Amelia Silver, Donna LaPietra, and Alejandro Silva.
Bill Kurtis and Leslie Hindman
Jim and Chris Holden
Toni and Rick Canada


Click here
for Today's Party Pictures
Click here
for NYSD Contents

June 27, 2006, Volume VI, Number 106
Photographs by Russell Hirshon and Lynn Hornor Keith


© 2006 David Patrick Columbia & Jeffrey Hirsch/