Friday, July 20, 2007

The New York – California Axis

A New York sunshower. 6:05 PM.
The New York – California Axis. New York Opera-goers got a thrill over the past week with the first performance of Wagner’s tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen conducted by Russian maestro Valery Gergiev and performed by he legendary Mariinsky Theatre.

Henry and Elizabeth Segerstrom
First performed in Germany in December 2003, it was hailed as a “truly historic and epoch-making event.” After that the Mariinsky Ring has been performed throughout the world – in Cardiff, Las Palmas in the Canaries, in Tokyo, in Moscow and at the Orange County Festival in Southern California.

The first performance was last Saturday night at the Met. Then last Monday night Elizabeth and Henry Segerstrom (see The List) held an exclusive supper at their Upper East Side apartment for fourteen after the performance of the Ring’s Das Rheingold. The supper  was to honor the maestro for his achievement.  Maestro Gergiev toasted his hosts and thanked them for bringing the Ring Cycle first to Orange County (Placido Domingo sang) and now to the Met.

Guests included Robert Wilson, Christophe de Menil, Jon and Susan Rotenstreich,  Ilya and Emila Kabokov, Howard and Sarah Solomon, Nigel Redden, director of Lincoln Center and his wife Arlene Shuler.

Renee Segerstrom
The Segerstroms are a most unusual couple in that they are cultural pioneers (like the Segerstrom heritage) in that part of the world. Mr. Segerstrom is from an old California family who made their fortune in lima beans in Orange County. Someone told me they still regard the lima bean as their good fortune and even possess some gold ones. However, the arrival of the “5” freeway brought about a sea-change on land, and today a great deal of the farmland acquired by Henry Segerstrom’s grandfather in the early 20 century is now the hub of one of the most successful shopping areas in the world, thanks to Henry’s vision: South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa which does more than $2 billion in annual sales. 

The vision continues. Mr. Segerstrom has also, in the past twenty years used much of the largesse generated by the area to build a world class cultural center, first with the support of his first wife Renee Segerstrom who passed away in 2000, and since then with Elizabeth Segerstrom whom he met here in New York a few years ago.

Elizabeth Segerstrom
Elizabeth Segerstrom, a Polish born trained psychiatrist and businesswoman is very active in enhancing the cultural life of Southern Callifornia. Together the couple are frequent visitors to the cultural centers of the world. I saw them a couple of months ago at MoMA for the dinner honoring Richard Serra (who work is on permanent exhibition at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. I saw them again in Paris for the American Friends of Versailles event (NYSD 6.18.07). Friends tell me that Elizabeth Segerstrom gives the most glamorous parties in Southern California and with their combined passion for the arts, the couple have revolutionized cultural life in Southern California.

Monday night’s supper was signature Elizabeth Segerstrom. There were flowers by Raoul inspired by their modern art collection. Supper served at midnight, after the final curtain at the Met. Menu was truffle celery soup or Maine lobster to start, the desert Napoleon "Rings" with kirsch Bavarian cream was for Mr. Gergiev and the Mariinsky Theater. Ben Bourgeois created the wonderful setting for the guests.  It was Mr. Bourgeois who built the ent for the opening of the new Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa last September. Robert Wilson also participated in that evening, designing the “smoking wall” installation that greeted the guests at the gala that night.
Hairspray, the movie opened with a big premiere at the Ziegfeld. John Travolta in the role created by Harvey Fierstein was there with his wife Kelly Preston. Travolta has been a teeny-bopper's star, a yuppie amusement and over all, now a great film actor. You always believe John Travolta, no matter the role he plays, and in this picture evidently (I haven't seen it), you believe him again playing a large, overweight yiddisher (okay, eye-talian) girl of a certain age and a certain ditziness and of a certain large weight. And you believe him. From Vinnie to this and "Get Shorty" in between, Mr. Travolta is the actor's actor. I remember years ago after he made "Saturday Night Fever," Barbara Walters interviewed (in his plane while in flight -- or seemingly so). She asked him at the end, "what does it feel like to be the biggest star in the world?" He looked at her askance, and smiled. You got the feeling he really couldn't relate to the idea (who could in their right mind?). It was the work that counted for him. What else is there?
Elijah Kelley and Amanda Bynes
John Travolta and Kelly Preston
Louis Minnelli and Liza Minnelli
Nikki Blonsky
Pedro Andrade and Lance Bass
Morton Janklow, Linda Janklow, Angela Janklow, and Jeff Stein
Sarah Jayne Jensen, Tiffany Engen, Brittany Snow, and Brooke Engen
Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller
Wendy Keys and Joan Juliet Buck
Eboni Nichols, Starr Domingue, J.P. Ferreri, and Ariel Reid
Emma Jane Holzer and Jane Holzer
L. to r.: John Waters; Stuart Parr and Allison Sarofim; Zac Efron.
Tara Halper and Jaret Keller
Zoe Jackson, Michael Lynne, and David Trichel
Eva and Robert Shaye
Brad Peltz and Peter Seltenright
And while we're on the subject of Hollywood ... a few days ago out in Malibu they had a birthday party for Liane Weintraub. I was thinking about Jamee Gregory's Shopping Diary on Tuesday when she talked about how the California girls looked different from the New York girls. These pictures articulate that. And of course what could be more California (to an Easterner) than Malibu?
Cindy Crawford
Jennifer Smith Hale and Konstantin Kakanias
Ava Weintraub
Deanna Hamro
Peter Bacanovic and Esthella Provas
Kimberly Bini
Robin Duboc and Heather Mnuchin
The luncheon party
Liane Weintraub and Becca Thrash
And then earlier in the week, the place was Lotus, and the Party Hearty for Heart Health hosted by Kristin Chenoweth ...
Michelle Rodriguez, Mario Cantone, and Bethany Frankel
Kristin Chenoweth, Ally Sheedy, and Mario Cantone
Deborah Gibson
Kristin Chenoweth
Jane Krakowski
Deborah Gibson, Steven Bailey, Kristin Chenoweth, Michelle Rodriguez, Ted Lange, Ally Sheedy, Mario Cantone, and Jane Krakowski

Photographs by ©Patrick McMullan
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