Thursday, March 6, 2014

New York City Delights

The sixteen 2014 Viennese Opera Ball Debutantes on the stairs of the Waldorf with their escort dance partners.
As NYC delights in a city-wide cultural celebration of "Vienna: City of Dreams," its grand launch event was the 59th Consecutive Viennese Opera Ball to benefit Carnegie Hall. The Waldorf=Astoria's Grand Ballroom was filled with debutantes, dignitaries, and diplomats who gathered for the proverbial start, not only of the waltzing season, but also to celebrate the rich cultural and warm social connection between Austria and the US. (Not to mention the business connection—the Ball is sponsored by the Austrian-US Chamber of Commerce!)

In keeping with the cultural prominence of the Ball, the City of Vienna delegation was led by Dr. Andreas Mailath-Pokorny, the city’s Councillor of Culture and Science. Some eight hundred guests (inlcuding Carmen Dell’Orefice who swept in in lace and full-length black velvet opera cape) at the legendary Ball were treated to spectacles like “The Evolution of Ballroom Dancing 1814 to 2014,” with special choreography by the pros from “Dancing With the Stars,” Maks and Val Chmerkovskiyand the dynamic Tony Dovolani.
Two Norwegian Fjord horses open the Ball
Opera singers Nathan Van Arsdale and Amy Shoremount-Obra perform an adaptation of Mozart's "The Abduction from the Seraglio"
Where else would you see Sherrill Milnes—legendary dramatic operatic baritone—introduce a smart adaptation of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "The Abduction from the Seraglio" (the very first Opera Mozart wrote in Vienna)?  It was done justice by the acting and singing skill of 6 performers from the Metropolitan Opera's roster of stars, from the sweet sounds of soprano Amy Shoremount-Obra to the low tones of bass-baritone Keith Miller, accompanied by music from Peter Duchin and His Orchestra.

One of the Ball’s many highlights were the two Norwegian horses pulling an antique carriage right onto the Waldorf’s Grand Ballroom floor! How does one get these majestic animals up to the 3rd floor of the Waldorf?  Through the use of the “secret” elevator FDR used to take his limo to his suite in the Waldorf, which helped keep hidden his use of crutches due to advanced but unspoken polio.  This year, the live horse-and-carriage was utilized and integrated into the opera as the abducted and bound damsel-in-distress trails the carriage! Those being nearly whisked by horsetail included Clive Gillinson Executive & Artistic Director of Carnegie Hall, and the Ball’s beneficiary who sat “ring-side” as did Joel Bell and Marife Hernandez, she the Former Chief of Protocol of U.S., with Max and Sissy Strauss just two seats away.
Carmen Dell'Orefice and West Point cadets
This years’ Viennese Opera Ball coincided with the 200th anniversary of the Congress of Vienna, a seminal peace-brokering conference that redefined Europe after the defeat of Napoleon.  The fabled Congress would gather during the day to hammer out the most important political issues of their time, and in the evenings they would put their differences aside to waltz the night away. It is said that "the Congress of Vienna didn’t sit, it waltzed!”

The eight-hour spectacle flies by, largely due to the Ball’s long-time Executive Director (i.e. event "wizard") Marcie Rudell, who prefers to work behind-the-scenes, avoiding all spotlight.  But not this time. In a departure from the program, Dr. Mailath-Pokorny turned the tables and called Ms. Rudell out to present her with a special Limited Edition of the Overture of "Die Fledermaus" by Johann Strauss from the archives in Vienna, saying "There is no Viennese Opera Ball without Marcie Rudell!"
Debutantes took scads of selfies while other guests posted photos and videos of the performances to Instagram and Facebook with the hashtag #VOB2014
A guest takes a photo of a majestic table setting in the Grand Ballroom
A Viennese choreographer flies over the week of the Ball to turn sixteen Debutante couples into accomplished, if daring, dancers. And once again, the bar has been raised as this year's Debutante Presentation included the choreographed waltz routine, but the young couples in their pure white ball gowns and white tie and tails were transformed in a circle of human swings.  The escorts lifted the Debs off the ground and swung them to and fro while moving in a circle.  Like everything else about the Ball, this isn’t an ordinary Deb cotillion.  These non-professional dancers had to have multiple rehearsals to get their parts right.  At the end of their complex piece comes the resounding call for "Alles Walzer!" (Translation: Everyone Dance!) And Waltz everyone did, from Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf to senior diplomatic national representatives -- and I do mean Ambassadors -- from, are you ready: Finland, Belgium, Ireland, Chile, Lebanon, Peru, along with EU UN Amb. Thomas Mayr-Harting, Austria's UN Amb. Martin Sajdik, who was recently named President of UN’s ECOSOC, and, of course, Austrian Ambassador Hans Peter Manz.
Rarely seen in the US, the Schuhplattlers, traditional Austrian folk dancers, show the celebratory style of the countryside, far from Vienna's glittering concert houses
The debutantes and escorts perform a majestically choreographed "human swing"
At one in the morning, authentic Schuhplattlers (traditional folk dancers popular in the Alpine regions of Bavaria) marched onto the Ballroom floor and shoe-slapped their feet-stomping pieces in raw-leather lederhosen. Guests went on to the Tanz Bar, the post-Ball party in the glamorous rooms adjacent to the Ballroom, for a late-night Austrian supper—from goulash soup to Viennese pastries, all created specially by the Executive Chefs for the VOB. And until 4 a.m., guests have a choice of venues: DJ or Jazz Band with Schuhplattlers.
Bill Cunningham
Peruvian UN Ambassador Gustavo Meza Cuadra and Sonia Balcazar de Meza-Cuadra
The Finnish Ambassador Jarmo Viinanen and his wife Irmeli
Austrian ambassador Dr. Hans Peter Manz with Debi and Stephen Harnik
Included in the Ball's honored guests were a glamorous age-divergent duo: 82-year-old supermodel Carmen Dell'Orefice and 19-year-old Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf. Between them is Austrian official Andreas Mailath-Pokorny, Councillor for Culture and Science in Vienna
Max and Sissy Strauss with Carnegie Hall Director Clive Gillinson
VOB Executive Director Marcie Rudell
UN luminary Amir Dossal poses with his wife Tas
Austrian Trade Commissioner Christian Kesberg, ORF-TV news personality Hannelore Fauqueux-Veit, and Viennese choreographer Heinz Heidenreich
Finnish Ambassado Jarmo Viinanen and his wife Irmeli with EU Ambassador Thomas Mayr-Harting and his wife Elisabeth
Vienna Philharmonic President Clemens Hellsberg, Former Chief of Protocol Marife Hernandez and her husband, Joel Bell
Two dancers from "Dance With Me" studios perform "The Evolution of Ballroom Dancing 1814 to 2014"
Sherrill Milnes waltzes with his wife Maria Zouves
Austrian banker F. Dieter Beintrexler, and wife, Elisabeth Hirst von Neckarsthal
Consul General Georg Heindl and wife Neline Koornneef-Heindl
West Point cadet with former VOB deb Stephanie Nass
John and Jane Hemingway Sullivan
Midnight Quadrille with Andreas Launer (Austrian Foreign Ministry), Consul General Georg Heindl, Neline Koornneef-Heindl
This past Monday night, the Bronx Museum of the Arts held its Spring Gala and Auction, "Greetings from the Bronx" at the Conrad New York on North End Avenue downtown. Among the guests were Arlene and Alan Alda, Elizabeth Cook, Levy Frayda and Ronald Feldman, Donald Rubin, Sarah Sze, Earl and Valerie Washington. The auction included works by Tony Feher, Tom Otterness, Ed Ruscha, and Hank Willis Thompson.
R. Douglass Rice, Brian Smith, Aurelia Greene, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, and Holly Block
Aurelia Greene and Donald Savelson
Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Holly Block
Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito
Leslie Weiss and Sharon Jacob
Mangue Banzima and Isolde Brielmaier
James Patterson, Alan Alda, Arlene Alda, and Donald Savelson
Holly Block, Elieo Rodriguez, Rachel Weingeist, Donald Rubin, and Tom Finkelpearl
Jonathan Faulhaber and Keri Faulhaber
Julia Hirschberg and Sergio Bessa
Adam Tucker, Sarah Sze, Holly Block, and Michelle Coffey
Olivia Merchant and Loran Hamilton
Helen Portugal and Joel Portugal
Valerie Washington, Earl Washington, and Dr. Rae Alexander-Minter
Juan Tamargo, Michael Canter, and Cynthia Elliott
Mercedes Mestre and Quisqueya Henriquez
Meg O'Rourke and Tobin Hemingway
Marco Nocella, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Donald Rubin, Linda Blumberg, and Ronald Feldman
Alanna Heiss, Robin Cembalest, Fred Sherman, and Lybess Swezy
Ed Greenhill and Rosa Rosenberg
Ruth Corn Roth and Murray Richman
Christopher Dixon, Barbara Dixon, and Rachel Adam
Cher Lewis and Liz Tennenbaum
Herman Hamilton, R. Douglass Rice, and Tanisha Hamilton
Naomi Hersson Ringskog, Maron Slone, and Ruth Mukherji
Rachel Lehman and Nari Ward
Liz Klein and Lawrence Benenson
Gabrielle Palmieri and Joe Blatt
Fred Sherman and Liz Byrne
Carol Seborowski, Steve Staso, and Abigail Ehrlich
Brandi and George Sakoulis
Andria Hickey and Jacqueline Sischy
Frado Lagamon, Chi-Ping Yen, and Yen-Chang Chou
Martin Weinstein, Polly Apfelbaum, Steve Shane, Theresa Lizka, and Katie DeGroot
Sarah Sze, Adam Tucker, Linda Blumberg, and Dana Emmott
Maggie Buchwald and Donald Buchwald
Elyse Roth and Mike Roth
Joyce Hogi, Elizabeth Cooke Levy, Allison Chernow, Alan Highet, and Lisa Highet
Also on Monday night, the School of American Ballet held its 2014 Winter Ball, celebrating the SAB's 80th anniversary on the Promenade of the David H. Koch Theater. They raised more than $1.2 million for scholarships and school programs. The evening was sponsored for the 7th consecutive year by Van Cleef & Arpels. The dinner was followed by a student performance choreographed specially for the occasion. Proceeds from this event enable the SAB to distribute $1.9 million annual in student scholarships as well as support the School's renowned faculty and state-of-the-art facilities at Lincoln Center.
Peter Martins, Julia Koch, Serena Lese, Diana DiMenna, Noreen Ahmad, and Amanda Brotman
More than 500 attended the dinner dance including the School's board members and alumni as well as leaders from the New York corporate and social communities. Notable attendees included: Diana DiMenna (Chairman), Julia Koch (Chairman), Serena Lese (Chairman), Noreen Ahmad (Young Patron Chairman), Amanda Brotman (Young Patron Chairman), and Chelsea Zalopany (Young Patron Chairman), Darci Kistler and Peter Martins, Sterling Hyltin, Maria Kowroski, Ask la Cour, Jock Soto, Daniel Ulbricht, Wendy Whelan, Linda and Edward Villella, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Lisa Rinehart, Fe Fendi, Olivia Flatto, Maggy Frances, Stephen L. Green, Martin Harvey, Julie Henderson, David Koch, Frederick R. Koch, Alexandra Lebenthal, Ed Lewis, Gilles Mendel, Teresa Moore, Dailey and Gordon Pattee, Bettina Prentice, Ilona Quasha, Kelly Rutherford, Jean Shafiroff, Timo Weiland, Laura and Will Zeckendorf.
Peter Martins, Darci Kistler, Nicolas Luchsinger, and Margie Van Dercook
Linda Villella and Edward Villella
Mikhail Baryshnikov and Lisa Rinehart
Julie Henderson
Charlotte Van Dercook, Quinn Jackson, and Margie Van Dercook
Teresa Moore
Elizabeth Kurpis
Anita Conley
Margo Langenberg and Fredrick R. Koch
Jill and Harry Kargman
Caroline Byron
Adrienne Arsht and David Monn
Mikhail Baryshnikov and Olivia Flatto
Fe Fendi, Jean Shafiroff, and Chiu-ti Jansen
Dottie Herman
Maria Kowroski and Ilona Nemeth
Janet Steinwood and Daniel Berger
Amanda Brotman, Antoine Schetritt, Stephanie Simon, and Jimmy Knehans
Nicolas Luchsinger and Kelly Rutherford
Kylie Case and Gilles Mendel
Martin Harvey, Maria Kowroski, Elysia Dawn Ramasar, and Amar Ramasar
Dr. Susan Krysiewicz and Alexandra Lebenthal
William Lese and Renee Landegger
Dinner on the Promenade of the David H. Koch Theater
This past Tuesday night, the Art Dealers Association of America held their gala preview of their 26th Annual Art Show, benefiting Henry Street Settlement, at the Park Avenue Armory at 67th and Park. The fair presents the nation's leading art dealers and galleries showcasing a range of artwork from cutting-edge, 21st century works, to masterpieces from the 19th and 20th century. This coming Saturday at 6 p.m, Adam Gopnik of the New Yorker will make the keynote lecture "What Makes the Humanities Human; Why Art Is More Than an Investment" in the Tiffany Room of the Park Avenue Armory.
Howard Read, Lucy Mitchell-Innes, Janelle Reiring, and Adam Sheffer
Andrea Glimcher
Eli Broad and Donald Marron
Ann Hamilton
Alexandra Lebenthal and Linda Blumberg
Jonathan Tisch and Lizzie Tisch
Dorsey Waxter, Adam Sheffer, and Linda Blumberg
Marie-Josee and Henry R. Kravis
John McEnroe
Dorsey Waxter, Dale J. Burch, Linda Blumberg, and Adam Sheffer
J Tomilson Hill and Sue Hostetler
Agnes Gund and Bunty Armstrong
Alexander Acquavella and Nicholas Acquavella
Bengimen Genocchio, J Tomilson Hill, and Janine Hill
Kim Heir-Evans and Audrey Gruss
Byron Wien and Anita Volz Wien
Jerry Saltz
Glenn D. Lowry
Ann Temkin and Alice Tisch
Martha Wilson
Peter Kraus, Richard Armstrong, and Jill Kraus
Photographs by Patrick McMullan (SAB, Bronx Museum); BFA (ADAA).