Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The 60th Anniversary of the Viennese Opera Ball and MCNY's Director's Council Winter Ball

Viennese choreographer Heinz Heidenreich with Debutantes and their escorts at the Diamond Jubilee of the Viennese Opera Ball.
On the evening of Friday, February 20th at the Waldorf, they celebrated the 60th Anniversary of the Viennese Opera Ball. The occasion also marked the historic signing of the Austrian State Treaty by the US, Great Britain, France and Russia.  Among those attending were the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon and Mrs. Ban who were personally invited by Austria's Ambassador Martin Sajdik. The Secretary-General joined a roster of diplomats and dignitaries, including United Nations Ambassadors Samantha Power (US), Vitaly Churkin (Russia), Thomas Mayr-Harting (European Union), Harald Braun (Germany), Katalin Bogyay (Hungary), Alvaro Mendonca e Moura (Portugal), and Kairat Abdrakhmanov (Kazakhstan), to name only a few. In the spirit of the anniversary, Ambassadors Power and Churkin sat side-by-side, huddled in conversation and even laughter late into the night.
Guest of Honor Opening March: Austrian Ambassador and Mrs. Martin Sajdik escort Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Mrs. Ban
Cadets from the US Military Academy at West Point Present the Colors
MSNBC's Thomas Roberts and opera icon Sherrill Milnes joined the songstress Alyson Cambridge as co-hosts of the festivities. Men were in white tie or dress uniforms with chests brimming with decorations. There were a number of Austrians attending, including Consul General Georg Heindl, the Vice-Governor and Vice Mayor of Vienna, Ms. Renate Brauner, and Austrian banker Dieter Beintrexler.

This year's Ball benefitted the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS) in Graz. Net proceeds from the Ball will sponsor deserving and talented American students at the 2015 AIMS summer program.
Debutante Presentation
Debutante Carousel
One of the signatures of the Viennese Opera Ball (which is held under the auspices of the US-Austrian Chamber of Commerce) is the horse and carriage featured in the program every year. To mark the 60th anniversary of Austria's sovereignty, Marcie Rudell, the Ball's Executive Producer and Director, added another element: a 4-wheeled (as opposed to 4-legged) mode of transportation, an authentic WWII Willys Jeep. The reason: From 1945 until the Austrian State Treaty was signed 10 years later, "Four Men in a Jeep" was the iconic image of Allied occupation in Vienna. The familiar sight of a sergeant from the US, British, French and Russian Armies sitting together in a Jeep was included in both the 1949 Orson Welles and Joseph Cotton classic, "The Third Man," as well as the 1951 Ralph Meeker "Four in a Jeep." Once the Treaty was signed, Austrians watched as the Jeeps drove out of Vienna, symbolizing Austria's independence.
Met soprano Amy Shoremount-Obra is brought into the Ballroom by Zorro, one of the VOB's favorite steeds
WWII Willys Jeep with Officers from US, British, French and Russian Armed Forces Saluting the Dignitaries
WWII Willys Jeep exits Grand Ballroom -- Ambassador Churkin and Ambassador Powell still applauding, standing and smiling in background
Ms. Rudell enlisted the help of Brigadier General Franz Berndorfer, Military Advisor to the Austrian UN Mission, who in turn got commitments from the Military Advisors to the US (Lieutenant Colonel Gregory Gimenez), British (Colonel Mark Maddick), French (Colonel Christophe Deherre) and Russian (Captain Evgeny Senkin) UN Missions. The Military Advisor to the European Union (Colonel Eugeniusz Szajbel) joined as a fellow Escort with Brigadier General Berndorfer.

These military "descendants" in full dress uniforms all took a turn in the Jeep around the Waldorf's Grand Ballroom floor. One burdensome problem: the laws that govern such things forbid ignition of a motorized vehicle in a building that is not licensed to do so. Solution: The two strong sons of Robert Del Gatto, the Jeep's owner, along with West Point Cadets in their dress grays, pushed the Jeep along! As the Jeep passed Ambassador Churkin and Ambassador Power, they rose to their feet, applauding.
Dressed in vintage military uniforms, dancers represent Russian, French, British and US men in the Jeep
"US" soldier 60 years ago dances to "Chattanooga Choo Choo" for Russian, French and British "Allies"
"Russian" soldier 60 years ago dances to "The Blue Handkerchief" for French, British and US "Allies"
There was a short ballet choreographed by Tiago Fernandes of the Dance With Me USA Studios (owned by Dancing With the Stars brothers, Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy and Tony Dovolani). Following the Jeep's exit, 4 "men" in vintage US, British, French and Russian WWII uniforms took to the floor. Each danced to a song identified with his homeland: "Chattanooga Choo Choo" (US), "White Cliffs of Dover" (British), "C'est Si Bon" (France), and "The Blue Handkerchief" (Russian).

There were sixteen debutantes and their dashing white-tied Escorts, including Cole Rumbough -- grandson of Dina Merrill and the great-grandson of Marjorie Merriweather Post. The gentlemen were choreographed by Viennese dance master, Heinz Heidenreich, and turned into human "swings" for the Debutantes who circled the dance floor in front of 700+ guests!
Chef Peter Betz's special VOB appetizer creation
Chef Charles Romano's special VOB dessert creation
By now the "traditional" horse and carriage is a fixture at the Viennese Opera Ball, but in this Diamond Jubilee year there were two horses and two carriages carrying in the Met Opera stars, Amy Shoremount-Obra (singing the "Jewel Song" from "Faust") and Alyson Cambridge -- who sang her rendition of "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" in tribute to the Diamond Anniversary and was covered with a diamond cowl especially presented by the society-favored designer Zang Toi. Rounding out the trio of Sopranos was Melissa Batallés, who lit up the room with her version of "Glitter and Be Gay."
Omar Sharif, Jr. and Opera legend Sherrill Milnes compete for Alyson Cambridge during "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend"
The bejeweled trio of Sopranos Alyson Cambridge, Melissa Batellés and Amy Shoremount-Obra
At Midnight, guests lined up in rows on the Ballroom dance floor for the wild Quadrille – an Austrian square dance if ever there was one.  At 1AM, guests made there way to the official Tanz Bar parties that continued until 4:00AM in the Jade and Astor rooms, adjacent to the Grand Ballroom, where a late-night Austrian supper—from goulash soup to Viennese pastries awaited. The majority of guests, including many an ambassador and other elder diplomats, boogied till the majestic end of a glittering affair!
Vienna Vice Governor and Vice Mayor Renate Brauner, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Co-host of the Viennese Opera Ball's Diamond Jubile, Thomas Roberts
Omar Sharif Jr. and K. Lee Graham, Miss Teen USA
Marcie Rudell, Austrian Ambassador Martin Sajdik, and Mrs. Tamara Sajdik
US UN Ambassador Samantha Power, Austrian Banker F. Dieter Beintrexler, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Maria Zouves and Sherrill Milnes
Consul General Georg Heindl and Mrs. Neline Heindl toast with Austria's Schlumberger Sparkling Wine
Debi Harnik, F. Dieter Beintrexler, and Renee Landegger
Viennese choreographer Heinz Heidenreich and Alyson Cambridge
Mr. and Mrs. Dominik Habsburg-Lothringen
Alyson Cambridge and Tim Eloe
European Union Ambassador Thomas Mayr-Harting and Mrs. Elisabeth Mayr-Harting
Austrian Consul General Georg Heindl and Mrs. Neline Heindl
Michele and Daniel Heidt
Broadway legend Stewart Lane and Bonnie Comley with daughter, Debutante Leah Lane
Dr. Scarlett Magda and John Vricella
Jonas Schwan and Elizabeth Laura Dente
Owen Kloter and Lara Mizrack
Dr. Scott Maddalo and Bertie Nei
Anton Fredriksson and Miss Teen
Dress rehearsal over, JC Leaders John Vricella and Sarah Esserman in stages of readiness for the Ball Opening
Omar Sharif, Jr. with opera sensation Alyson Cambridge as she vamps "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend"
Patrick Kane and Debutante Alexandria Iqbal
VOB and International Debutante Leah Lane and Cole Rumbough
Midnight Quadrille (including Sarah Esserman, Nathan Holt, Mary Fowler, Donald Lovejoy, and Ian Bone)
Last Wednesday night, the Museum of the City of New York hosted its Director's Council Winter Ball at the Pierre. The black tie evening was attended by 450 guests and raised more than $610,000 to benefit the museum.

The committee for the evening were Director's Council Chairs: Mark Gilbertson, Alexia Hamm Ryan, Celerie Kemble, Sara Ayres, Nicole Hanley Mellon, Calvert Moore, Allison Rockefeller, Sloan Overstrom, Tara Rockefeller, Andrew Roosevelt, and Burwell Schorr. Oscar de la Renta and Taffin were the evening's sponsors.
Mark Gilbertson with the Director's Council Chairmen Nicole Mellon, Tara Rockefeller, Sara Ayres, Alexia Hamm Ryan, Andrew Roosevelt, Burwell Schorr, Allison Rockefeller, Calvert Moore, and Celerie Kemble
Alexia Hamm Ryan, Tara Rockefeller, Allison Rockefeller, Calvert Moore, Burwell Schorr, and Sloan Overstrom
Alex and Eliza Bolen with Alex Reyes
Blair Husain and Jennifer Cacioppo
Celerie Kemble and Starrett Ringbomm
Stephen and Christine Schwarzman
Alexandra Lebenthal
Erika and Jonathan Bearman
Hilary Dick
Andy Oshrin and Michelle Smith
Amy Hoadley and Geoffrey Bradfield
Nancy Sambuca, Kathy Thomas, Danielle Ganek, and Helen Lee Schifter
Louis Rose and Alexandra Rose
Gigi Mortimer and Marco Scarani
George and Calvert Moore
Anjali and Prakash Melwani with Sangeeta Assumell
Claudia Overstrom and Kate Allen
Helen Lee Schifter and Thom Filicia
Heather Mnuchin and Jamie Tisch
Dori Cooperman, Nicole Mellon, Annabella Murphy, and Katherine Kawei
Evelyn Tompkins and Lee Robinson
Jamee and Peter Gregory
Jay and Allison Aston
Greg Calejo, Brooke Harlow, Kevin Lynyak, and Thom Filicia
Kathy Prounis and Mark Gilbertson
Kelly and Gerry Pasciucco
Jonathan Farkas, Somers Farkas, Jennifer Creel, and John Demsey
Heather and Tom Leeds
Mark Gilbertson and The Diet Coke Dancers
Lisa McCarthy and Jill Roosevelt
Kamie Lightburn
Liz Graziolo and Evan Proach
Merrill and Ashton Curtis with Alexia Hamm Ryan
Heather Mnuchin, Mark Gilbertson, and Kathy Thomas
Debbie Bancroft and George Farias
Eric and Caroline Villency
Mary Snow
Paul Parker, Enya Hagan, Kathy Prounis, and Othon Prounis
Mena Junot and Pam Owens
Mark Gilbertson and Claire Gudefin
Pam Owens and Lee Robinson
Renee Rockefeller, Jamie Tisch, and Heather Mnuchin
Randy Kemper and Tony Ingrao
Michael and Tara Rockefeller
Rick Prater, Susan Madden, Ann Spence, and Adam Spence
Sara Ayres and Mary Kathryn Navab
Stephen Apking and Dan Gundrum
Sloan and Claudia Overstrom
Wendy Fentress, Andrew Fentress, Kate Allen, and Kent Sevener
Wendy Carduner and Nathalie Kaplan
Photographs by Patrick McMullan (MCNY)