Thursday, September 28, 2017

Standing ovations

Gina Gershon arrives on the red carpet.
The Metropolitan Opera’s 2017-18 season opened this past Monday, with a new production of Bellini’s Norma, with the power trio of Sondra Radvanovsky, Joyce DiDonato, and Joseph Calleja in the principal roles, under the baton of Carlo Rizzi.

It was a balmy late September evening, a perfect night for an opera gala. Fans were in their fashion best and looking forward to hearing the sensational Sondra Radvanovsky in the title role of — a love triangle that ends in tragedy.

I am not an opera aficionado per se. I love music. I love to sing. I have a decent non-professional voice that had some training long ago, and so I share the thrill of hearing beautiful, magnificente voices. But my knowledge of the repertoires is sketchy to non-existent.
Laurie Tisch John Reynolds Sr., Chris Reynolds, John Reynolds, and Kyle Reynolds
Alissa Grad and Bryan McCalister Thomas Kean and Susan Braddock
However, I have had the pleasure knowing several major opera fans – and they are most definitely “fans.” I’m always impressed by their emotional experience every time they attend. It’s fascinating to watch because they are able to plug into the entire production and its creators including the composers and the conductors. It’s a level of high culture that provides deep satisfaction for those so-engaged. And also a reminder of what we are capable of enjoying. I, not one of them, however, love that about the opera.

Monday’s evening began with a cocktail hour. Members of influence in attendance from the worlds of fashion, film, music, and publishing. It was a Black Tie, be-taffetaed fashion parade -- Oscar de la Renta, Prada, and Dolce & Gabbana among the designers, all on view. The Gala co-chairs were Mercedes Bass, Betsy and Ed Cohen, Judith-Ann Corrente and Willen Kooyker, Marlene Hess and Jim Zirin; Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer and Joseph Neubauer, Ann Ziff; and William and Susan Morris. Corporate Chair was John Cryan.  Mr. Cryan is Chief Executive Officer of Deutsche Bank which underwrote the Opening Night Gala for the 17th consecutive year.
Richard Massey and Tarra Bandet Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall
Veronika Part Charles Holmes and Mary Bray
A notably un-taffeta’d but nevertheless notable attendee was Patti Smith, wearing a simple black suit over a white T-shirt. “This is about as far as I dress up, but it’s nice clothing,” she told WWD, her long gray locks freely draping over her shoulders. “I dress as I dress, but I love to see everyone. I can’t really pull off the gowns, but I like to look at it all.”
Smith comes to the opera for her love of the music and “would be on the stage of the opera house if (she) had been blessed with the vocal capability like that of soprano Sondra Radvanovsky, who plays the tragedy’s titular role.
Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Patti Smith, and Josh Lucas
Smith revealed that it was the music that she gravitated to as a child but admitted that she “just (has) no talent for it.” The Met evenings are something wonderful to her because she grew up loving that music but never in the position to be able to attend. “Believe me,” she reiterated to WWD, “if I could sing like Maria Callas I would be up there doing ‘La Traviata.’ I think I would be great. I know that sounds so conceited, but I just know I would know what to do.” We believe her.
Ofira Sandberg and Camilla Olsson David and Greta Grasso
Rolston Braithwaite Kristina Marinova Lauren Chisholm
Camilla Rockefeller and Ariana Rockefeller Justin Mikita and Jesse Tyler Ferguson
Chris Colls, Alexandra Agoston, and Daniel Benedict
Erin Richards Liza Zaneri
Bryan Batt Keren Craig and Georgina Chapman
Gerard Moss, Linda Mirels, Frances Kirsch, and Natie Kirsh
Mike Woods Dee Dee Sorvino and Paul Sorvino
Yelena Yemchuk and Ebon Moss-Bachrach Anna Chlumsky and Shaun So
Peter Gelb and Mayor Bill de Blasio Andrew Saffir and Gina Gershon
Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Yelena Yemchuk, Jessica Ciencin Henriquez, and Josh Lucas
Barbara and Donald Tober Anne McNally, Zani Gugelmann, and Anh Duong
Josh Lucas and Jessica Ciencin Henriquez Misha Nonoo and Zani Gugelmann
Bill Powers and Cynthia Rowley Sandra Brant and Cynthia Rowley
Jill Hennessy and Jess Weixler Jill Hennessy and Jennifer Esposito
Eric Phillips and Nico Tortorella
Chrissy Barker, Nigel Barker, and Kimberly Hise Jamie Tisch and Sandra Brant
Jemima Kirke and F. Murray Abraham
On the menu at the September 18th Le Cirque Luncheon for The New York Women’s Foundation, hosted by Jean Shafiroff, was a serious discussion about New York’s criminal justice system and the hardships it inflicts on youth, the poor and those facing mental health challenges, particularly women and their families.

This year, Hon. Jonathan Lippman, Chairman of the Independent Commission on NYC Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform and Greg Berman, Director of the Center for Court Innovation, spoke about the changes needed to create an effective and humane criminal justice system in New York that protects public safety while treating the accused and the incarcerated with decency.
Hon. Jonathan Lippman and Director of Center for Court Innovation Greg Berman
Hon. Jonathan Lippman, Board Member Jean Shafiroff, NY State Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright, and Board Member Lorraine Cortes-Vazquez
Guests at the invitation-only event, a prelude to The Foundation’s upcoming Fall Gala on October 2nd at The Plaza, included NYS Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright, Mary McCormick, Marco Maccioni, Rachel Hirschfeld, Bonnie Comley, Natalie Ross and Elizabeth Shafiroff. For more information about the gala or to purchase tickets, visit
Greg Berman and Board Member Merble Reagon
Greg Berman, President & CEO Ana Oliveira, Hon. Jonathan Lippman, and Board Member Michelle Penzer
Ana Oliveira and Board Alumna Antoinette Labelle Elizabeth Shafiroff and Marco Maccioni
Renee Landegger and Natalie Ross
Sara Lee Schupf, Ann Almeida, and Karen Guarasci
Dawne Marie Grannum, Katlean de Monchy, Greg Berman, and Dr. Penny Grant
Nida Khan and Darold Cuba
Bonnie Comley, Jean Shafiroff, and Dr. Penny Grant
Lori Sokol, Paola Bacchini, Dawne Marie Grannum, Natalie Ross, Christine Schott Ledes, Marco Maccioni, and Dr. Penny Grant
O'Sullivan Antiques on East 10th Street was the scene of a lovely cocktail reception given by The Irish Georgian Society on Thursday, September 21st as a prelude to the Gala Dinner at The New York Yacht Club on Wednesday, October 25th. 

Hosting the party were members of the American Board of Directors of the Society including Board President Beth Dater, Chantal O’Sullivan, Annette Lester, Marti Sullivan, Paul Keeler, Liz King and John Sullivan. Also in attendance was Michael Kerrigan, the Executive Director of the Society in the United States.
While mingling with other guests, friends of the Society were treated to stunning examples of Irish Georgian furniture that filled the showroom that board member Chantal O’Sullivan has so carefully curated. She explained, “In the 18th century Dun Laoghaire (formerly Kingstown) was the first port for ships bringing mahogany from Cuba so Irish craftsmen had the best wood.  We find Irish Georgian pieces are freer and more whimsical than the London carvers. You’ll find masks and harps ornaments.  Carvers quietly offered opinions of landlords who commissioned their pieces in the rendering of these faces.  It’s what we love.”

To learn more about the New York Gala Dinner on October 25th, please contact Executive Director Michael Kerrigan at 312-961-3860 or
John Sullivan, Chantal O'Sullivan, Paul Keeler, Annette Lester , Marti Sullivan, and Michael Kerrigan
The Irish Georgian Society promotes awareness and protection of Ireland’s architectural heritage and decorative arts.  It achieves this through conservation projects that have saved many important historic buildings; through education programs that encompass seminars, publications and architectural tours; and through campaigning for the protection of endangered buildings. The Irish Georgian Society, Inc. is a registered 501(c)(3) charitable organization in the United States, which encourages the appreciation and conservation of Ireland’s architecture and the decorative arts.
Catherine Campen, Michael Kerrigan, Suzy Moran, JoLynn Moran, and Marti Sullivan
Catherine Campen, JoLynn Moran, and Suzy Moran
Catherine Campen, Suzy Moran, JoLynn Moran, and Chris McInerney
Paul Keeler and Beth Dater
Kathy Sloane Delia Roche Kelly
Nina Bronya, Paul Keeler, and Chantelle O'Sullivan
Mary Richie Smith
Jean McGlaughlin, Chris McInerney, and Kevin McGlauglin
Maribeth Welsh, Ellen Welsh, and Ellen FitzSimons
Photographs by Patrick McMullan (Met Opera); Annie Watt (Irish Georgian)