|On Sunday, April 13th, Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato and Tony and Emmy Award-winning actor David Hyde Pierce co-hosted the Ninth Annual Opera News Awards in the Grand Ballroom of The Plaza Hotel in New York City. They were joined by a distinguished line-up of presenters – Luca Pisaroni, Susan Graham, Renata Scotto, Eva Wagner-Pasquier and Francesca Zambello – who paid tribute to five superb artists who have made an invaluable contribution to the art form: the late director Patrice Chéreau, tenor Juan Diego Flórez, mezzo-soprano Christa Ludwig, bass-baritone James Morris, and soprano Nina Stemme.
First introduced in 2005, the Opera News Awards gala dinner, which features the hosts and presenters speaking about the awardees and introducing video performance clips, has become one of the most anticipated opera events of the season: an evening of celebration, appreciation, reuniting and celebrity-spotting that is without parallel in the industry.
|Described by Opera News as “elegant, unaffected, and enchanting,” mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato has won a world-wide following for her incomparable performances of Rossini, Handel, and Mozart roles, as well as her dedication to new music. She has brought her flexible, powerfully expressive voice, impeccable vocal technique, and dramatic intensity to the Metropolitan Opera premieres of Le Comte Ory and Maria Stuarda, as well as the Met’s world premiere of The Enchanted Island. DiDonato returns to the company this spring for performances of Rossini’s La Cenerentola, which will be transmitted live to movie theaters in sixty-four countries on May 10th as part of The Met: Live in HD series.|
|Honors bestowed on DiDonato include a 2009 Opera News Award, Musical America’s 2013 “Vocalist of the Year,” the Beverly Sills award from the Metropolitan Opera, the 2002 Richard Tucker Foundation Award and a 2012 Grammy Award for her Virgin Classics album “Diva Divo.” She is also an avid photographer and active blogger.
Perhaps best known for his multiple Emmy-winning work as Dr. Niles Crane on the NBC sitcom Frasier, David Hyde Pierce has had wide-ranging success in television, film and theater roles. Pierce’s performance in Curtains on Broadway won him a Tony Award in 2007, and he earned another Tony nomination for his role in Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, which won the Tony Award for Best Play in 2013.
|This year’s gala has a special though bittersweet poignancy: Eva Wagner-Pasquier, whose father invited Patrice Chéreau to mount the revolutionary and now-legendary centenary production of Wagner’s “Ring” Cycle at Bayreuth in 1976, offered a special appreciation of Chéreau, who died in October just weeks after it was announced that he had won the Award. Admired for his work in film – both as a director and as an actor – as well and in theater and opera, Chéreau made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 2009 with a production of Janácek’s From the House of the Dead, which was also seen in Vienna, Milan, and at the Aix-en-Provence Festival. Chéreau’s staging of Richard Strauss’s Elektra was the smash hit of the 2013 Aix Festival, and will be seen in spring 2014 at La Scala. A co-production with the Metropolitan Opera, the Chéreau Elektra will also bow in New York in a future season.|
|Turning to the other presenters, bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni, who performs with DiDonato at the Metropolitan Opera this spring, presented the Award to tenor Juan Diego Flórez. Beloved American mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, herself an Opera News Award-winner, presented the award to German mezzo-soprano Christa Ludwig, one of her greatest inspirations. Legendary Italian soprano Renata Scotto, a previous Opera News Award-winner who has created some of the most touchingly funny moments at past galas, presented the award to bass-baritone James Morris, a justly revered Wagnerian singer who also appeared with Scotto in Italian works.
Opera and theater director Francesca Zambello, who currently heads Glimmerglass Opera and the Washington National Opera, presented the award to Nina Stemme; Zambello directed the Swedish soprano in the San Francisco Opera production of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, in which Stemme triumphed as Brünnhilde.
|The Lenox Hill Neighborhood House held its annual Spring Gala, "A Spring Affair," at Cipriani 42nd Street, a week ago Wednesday. They honored Tom Edelman, the outgoing President. Leigh and Leslie Keno emceed. This is always a glamorous affair. They raised over a million and they put that money to work in the best possible ways for helping our neighbors who need it.|
|Recently in West Palm Beach, more than 250 of the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts’ major donors attended a special evening in honor of the Center’s Founders and Grand Benefactors, Benefactors, Grand Sponsors, Sponsors and Patron Members of the Dress Circle.
In her welcoming remarks, Judith Mitchell, CEO of the Center, thanked the room full of loyal supporters, noting that many have supported the Kravis Center since the very beginning, witnessing its growing influence on the cultural community.
The evening began with a cocktail reception in the Harris Pre-Function Hall, followed by dinner in the Cohen Pavilion’s Gimelstob Ballroom, prepared by Catering by the Breakers at the Kravis Center. The room was beautifully decorated by Xquisite Events with pops of pink, and centerpieces were displayed in oversized martini glasses – a hint at what was to come. While enjoying dinner, guests heard more about the Center’s significance from Jane Mitchell, current board chair.
|“We are now in our 22nd season, and the Kravis Center is truly a celebrated cultural icon in our community, by presenting world-class entertainment with something for everyone to enjoy. As we embark on the next chapter of the Center’s history, we have the opportunity to preserve the cultural icon that so many have worked hard to build.”
Ms. Mitchell continued by thanking Board Members in attendance, including immediate past chair William Meyer, Michael Bracci, Barbara Golden, John Jenkins, Mark Levy, Ted Mandes, Monika Preston, Laurie Silvers and Lee Wolf; and Life Trustees Judy Goodman and John Howard. In addition, she expressed her sincere gratitude to Northern Trust for its generous sponsorship of the evening’s dinner, which it has sponsored for 18 consecutive years; and Alec and Sheila Engelstein and Zelda and Allen Mason for their sponsorship of the evening’s performance, Pink Martini.
|Featuring 10 – 12 talented musicians under the direction of pianist Thomas Lauderdale, the multicultural band, Pink Martini, took the stage in Dreyfoos Hall following the dinner and wowed the crowd with its unique repertoire of classical, jazz and pop. They were joined by The von Trapps, actual grand-children of Captain and Maria von Trapp, made famous by the 1965 film, The Sound of Music.
Centrally located in West Palm Beach, the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts is one of the premier performing arts centers in the Southeast with a renowned national and international reputation. Established as a leading force in the social fabric of the community, its many outreach programs are as broad and varied as the community itself. To date, the Center has opened the door to the performing arts for approximately 2 million school children.
|On Wednesday, April 16, the New England Society in the City of New York (NES) celebrated the winners of its 2014 New England Society Book Awards at the historic Grolier Club in midtown. The Awards, which honor books of merit that celebrate New England and its culture, are presented annually to the authors of books published in the previous 12 months, in any of four major categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Art & Photography and Special Titles.
Winning authors Daphne Kalotay, Peter Miller, and Nathaniel Philbrick were in attendance to accept their awards. Editor Wendy Wolf attended to accept on Linda Greenlaw’s behalf.
The full-capacity audience of NES members, guests, and publishing insiders had a wonderful time thanks to NES Book Awards Committee Chair Anna Bulkot, and committee members Benedict Gedaminski, Jan Whitman Ogden, Ellen Scordato, and Anne Teasdale.
|The 2014 NES Book Award winners, selected from thirteen finalists, are as follows:
Fiction: Sight Reading by Daphne Kalotay (HarperCollins): An elegant novel of love and family set in Boston’s classical music scene, Sight Reading traces one love triangle as it shifts and falters over the span of two decades.
Nonfiction – Contemporary: Lifesaving Lessons by Linda Greenlaw (Viking): Famed swordfish boat captain Linda Greenlaw created a life of peaceful independence for herself on a rugged island off the coast of Maine. Now, she faces her greatest battle with nature – a newly adopted teenage daughter.
Nonfiction – History & Biography: Bunker Hill: A City, A Siege, A Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick (Viking): The bestselling author brings his prodigious talents to the story of the Boston battle that ignited the American Revolution.
Art & Photography: A Lifetime of Vermont People by Peter Miller (Silver Print Press): 60 Duotone portraits with accompanying profiles of rural Vermonters completed over 63 years and representative of self-employed people who have made Vermont what it is.
|Catching up in Palm Beach. French Heritage Society (FHS) held its Annual Palm Beach Gala Dinner at Club Colette, under the patronage of The Honorable Philippe Létrilliart, Consul General of France in Miami. Chairmen for the evening were FHS Chairman Elizabeth F. Stribling, FHS President Denis de Kergorlay, FHS Board member and Events Chairman CeCe Black, FHS Palm Beach Co-Chairmen Robert L. Sterling, Jr. and Suzanne Stoll and Palm Beach Events Chairman Karen K. Clark. Dinner Chairmen and Vice Chairmen included CeCe Black, Elizabeth F. Stribling and Guy N. Robinson, Deborah and Chuck Royce, Mr. and Mrs. Robert L. Sterling, Jr., Annette Y. Friedland, Jay R. Paul and Suzette de Marigny-Smith.
|The Gala’s honored guests were Prince Michel de Bourbon-Parme and Princess Maria Pia de Savoie. Other notable patrons included: Mrs. William B. Astrop, Louisa Benton, Mary Randolph Ballinger, Countess Diane de La Bégassière, Countess Yolande de Bonvouloir, Patricia Cossutta Arostegui, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Darlington, Jr., Zita Davisson, Mr. and Mrs. William J. Diamond, Rodney Dillard, Maldwin Drummond, Ronald Lee Fleming, Cristina and Marco Grassi, Charles and Clydette de Groot, Audrey and Martin Gruss, Eileen and Robert Judell, John D. and Giuliana Koch, Gretchen Leach, Mr. and Mrs. Robin Martin, Chris and Grace Meigher, Chips and Sarah Page, David Sadroff, Patricia and Tom Shiah, Pascal and Lynn Tone, Betsy and Wally Turner, Ann Van Ness, Christopher English Walling and Judy Schafft, Mrs. Robert Wickham, and Barbara Wolf.|
|The dinner emphasized the numerous projects of historic restoration the Society has supported in the United States – approximately 15-20% of FHS grants go to American monuments and gardens that have a French connection. The evening was also an occasion to celebrate the First Anniversary of the Ambassadors’ Circle which is a distinguished group of benefactors who enjoy privileged opportunities to meet in informal settings with Ambassadors and dignitaries from both countries.
Guided by the belief that the most enduring expression of a culture is to pass on its highest achievements, French Heritage Society, an American not-for profit membership organization, is dedicated to protecting the French architectural legacy both in France and the United States with emphasis on raising funds for preservation and education. FHS ensures that the treasures of our shared heritage survive to inspire future generations to build, dream and create.
|Photographs by ©Dario Acosta 2014 (Opera News); Annie Watt (Lenox Hill & NES); Corby Kaye's Studio Palm Beach (Kravis).|