The ladies dress for it

Looking north from West Broadway and Franklin. 7:30 PM. Photo: Jeffrey Hirsch.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013. Sunny and somewhat chilly for May in New York. Chillier in the evening.

Last night at the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center, the American Ballet Theatre held its Opening Night Spring Gala. This is one of those big beautiful social events on the Spring calendar. Black tie, and the ladies dress for it.
Honorary Chairs were Michele Obama, Caroline Kennedy and Blaine Trump. President Obama happened to be in town but I don’t know if the First Lady made it up to Lincoln Center. I don’t know if  any of honorary chairs were there; I didn’t see them (which means nothing).

Co-chairs for the evening were Sloan Lindemann Barnett, Nina Rennert Davidson, Karin Luter, Kalliope Karella Rena, Christine Schwarzman, Tracy Snyder and Monica Wambold. These are the girls who sell the tickets (tables) and raise the money to pay for everything including the ballet. At least five of them have multi-billionaire husbands or fathers and the rest of them have access to big funds. This is how the opera and ballet survive in New York.
The program was a reflection of that. They opened with the Act III Excerpt of “Onegin,” based on a poem by Pushkin with music by Tchaikovsky. A scene at the ball with members of St. Petersburg nobility. Very grand, and beautiful and Tchaikovsky’s music of haunting nostalgia. Diana Vishneva and James Whiteside were the principals.

This was followed by “Cortege” (world premiere) with choreography by Ratmond Lukens and music by Rimsky-Korsakov and the company was made up of the ABT Studio company and the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School of Ballet at ABT students  (Level 7). Then came “Le Corsaire (Act II Pas de Deux and Coda) danced by Xiomara Reyes and Ivan Vasiliev. Powerful and impassioned.
During intermission I happened to be having a glass of champagne by the bar, when I noticed I was also standing alongside Roman Abramovich who was with a very attractive young brunette woman. Soon after, another Russian tycoon who is a also a New Yorker, Len Blavatnik, came by to say hello to the man who spent more than a half billion dollars on one of his (three) yachts.

Both men were dressed very casually -- open collar shirt, jacket and pants and fairly innocuous looking, all things (and site) considered. Not the sort of costume you’d expect from men of great wealth attending the ballet on a gala opening. But then, they are Russians and their relationship to the ballet is potentially much greater and more intimate than that of us Americans.
Mr. Abramovich went mainly unnoticed but he was enjoying himself looking around at the company he was keeping. At one point a young man came up with a camera and asked if he could take a picture. Abramovich and his lady friend pleasantly agreed. Then the young man asked if the lady friend would take a picture of him with Abramovich, who found the whole thing amusing and went along.

Someone told me that Uma Thurman was there as well as Sigourney Weaver, Nigel Barker, Ashlee Simpson, etc. The list was light on celebrity otherwise, but heavy on the social movers and shakers who are really the ones who support the ABT and make it possible.
Also on the program: Sir Frederick Ashton’s “Sylvia” (The Hunt Scene) with music by Leo Delibes, danced by Gillian Murphy and the corps of ABT ballerinas.  Also “Apotheose” (another world premiere) with choreography by Marcelo Gomes and danced by Julie Kent and Roberto Bolle. Then “Sleeping Beauty (At III  Pas de Deux and Coda), danced by Hee Seo and David Hallberg; and finally George Balachine’s “Symphony in C” with music by Georges Bizet, in 4 movements – danced by Paloma Herrera, James Whiteside; Veronika Part, Cory Stearns; Xiomara Reyes, Danil Simkin; Sarah Lane and Jared Matthews.

The program got underway about 6:50 and ended about 9:20, with one brief intermission. Then the gala guests moved on to the big tent set up in Damrosch Park for the dinner dance. This too had a big crowd. The theme was black and white (this always reminds me of Cole Porter’s “That Black and White Baby of Mine ...” (“She thinks black and white, she even drinks Black and White, That black and white baby of mine ....”) It was a beautiful evening in New York.
Catching up around town. Last Thursday while I was at the Rockefeller University Women&Science Lecture and luncheon, Ann Nitze – the art gallerist who divides her time between New York and our nation’s capital – held her annual terrace lunch The purple and white wisteria were in full bloom and the champagne flowed.

Among the guests were a number of museum directors and art collectors in town for the auctions and fairs this week. There were guests from Mumbai, London, Tokyo, Vienna, San Francisco, Miami, and Santa Fe to catch up with old friends in New York. Mrs. Nitze, a fan of the Royal Academy of Art in London was particularly happy to greet the director Christopher LeBrun. The RA had recently exhibited the work of Mariko Mori who was also another guest at the Nitze lunch.
Christopher Le Brun, Mariko Mori, Ann Nitze, Richard Miller, and Kathleen Hearst.
Ann Nitze and Emily Frick. David Beer.
Richard Gaddes, Karen Loud, and Joe Goldfrank.
Rashmi Poddar with Dr. William Haseltine and Maria Eugenia Maury Haseltine.
Toni Bloomburg, Zibby Tozer, and Farran Tozer Brown.
Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia, Patricia Kluge, and Bill Moses.
Mariko Mori, Evelyn Tompkins, and Keiko Nishida.
Ian Wardropper, Ann Nitze, and Richard Gaddes.
April Gow and CeCe Black.
Margo Langenberg, Jaime Figg, and Elbrun Kimmelman.
Bonnie Burnham and Elizabeth Belfer.
Inmaculada Habsburg and Marife Hernandez. Brad Livingstone Black and Evelyn Tompkins.
Mariko Mori, Billy Rayner, and Ann McNulty.
Princess Mimi Romanoff and Christopher Walling.
Christopher Mason, Tiffany Dubin, and Tony Bechara.
Judy Taubman and Christopher Forbes.
Jill Sackler, Sana Sabbagh, and Shelby White.
Ann Nitze, Fred Koch, and Princess Mimi Romanoff.
Richard Oldenburg.
George Herrick, Sandy Whitman, and Nannette Herrick.
Edward Gallagher, Mel Oldenberg, and John Herring.
Mimi Stafford and Bill Bernhard.
Annabelle Mariaca, Raul Suarez, and Judy Taubman.
Bonnie Burnham, Stephanie Stokes, and Rashmi Poddar.
Pauline Metcalf and Louis Bofferding.
Also late last week: Marie Eugenia and Bill Haseltine gave a book launch party for their pall Stephanie Stokes and her “Elegant Rooms That Work, Fantasy & Function in Interior Design” (Rizzoli). Xavier Guerrand-Hermès wrote what Stephanie thought was an adorable foreward. Stephanie has classic good taste and is a Master (no other word for it) at space economy (finding space where you thought none existed) and organization.

From the 86th floor of the Haseltine apartment, the sunset over Manhattan was memorably stunning; and if you’re terrified of heights, memorably terrifying. Nevertheless friends of the guest of honor and her hosts came in from all over the world including Edouard Guerrand-Hermès from Paris, Muna Rihani Al-Nasser from Quatar, Malu Edwards form Chile, Keiko Nishida, wife of the Japanese Ambassador to the UN, Patricia Arias, wife of the Spanish Ambassador to the UN, and others. Among others attending were Carolyne Roehm and Katherine Mezzacappa, Boulie and Jim Marlas, Konrad Keessee, Ann Nitze, and Margo Langenberg, the Kopelmans, Patty Tang and Jeanne Lawrence, and Sachiko Goodman and Nina Richter, whose Walnut library in Bronxville is featured in the book. Sandy Gilbert and David Morton from Rizzoli were also in attendance.
Stephanie Stokes, Dr. William Haseltine, and Maria Eugenia Maury Haseltine.
Nina Richter and Stephanie Stokes. John Jakobson.
Guy Robinson, Elizabeth Stribling, Dr. William Haseltine, Arie Kopelman, and Coco Kopelman.
Micky Hurley, Malu Custer Edwards, and Maria Eugenia Maury Haseltine.
Mai Hallingby and Donald Smith. Margo Langenberg, Konrad Keesee, and Ann Nitze.
Sandy Gilbert and David Morton.
Marie Nugent-Head and James Marlas.
Edouard Guerrand-Hermes, Alex Gregory, and Mrs. and Dr. Haseltine.
Jaki Sitterle and Ed Lobrano.
Katherine Mezzacappa, Carolyne Roehm, Sandy Gilbert, and David Morton.

Photographs by DPC/NYSD (ABT); Annie Watt (Stokes, Nitze)

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