Monday, July 24, 2017

Then comes the beauty

All is quiet on Fifth Avenue. 6:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Monday, July 24, 2017. Friday’s heat followed us into the weekend but it rained late Saturday night and left us with some cooler temperatures (high 70s) for an overcast but comfortable Sunday completed with some heavy rains moving through.

The city was very quiet. How could I tell? Blocks of open parking spaces east and west. For a moment I wondered if I was missing something (like: get outta town). But I like New York like this. Quiet, not too hot; the terrace door is open, the avenue’s only sound is the muffled roar of 20,000 air conditioners which after awhile blend into the mise en scene I call my nabe.

On Saturday I went to Sette Mezzo to dine with my old friend Philip Carlson. Philip and I have been having a conversation (off and on) for the last fifty years. That is astounding especially because we talk so much it all seems brand new.
Philip in 1965 as drawn by Bob Schulenberg.
We met when we were actors (I’ve probably written this here before) and that’s when we started talking. My acting career ran out of gas quickly. His went from off-Broadway to Hollywood to New York and talent agentry. He loved launching or discovering talent. He loves talent. He’s written a book about it (this I know I’ve written here before) called “Breaking and Entering” (A Manual for the Working Actor: From Auditions to Agents to a Career). If you know anybody who is starting a career or wants to start a career, give them this book. It’s not a “how-to,” it’s a textbook for serious actors. And it’s interesting even if you’re not interested in that, because it’s about show business, the theatre, stars, cars and bars. There’s no business like it; you get that from Phil’s book.
Philip with Jennifer Rockwood holding a copy of his book. Click to order.
There. Now that I’ve plugged Phil’s book again, at dinner I was plugging “The Murrow Boys; Pioneers on the Front Lines of Broadcast Journalism” by Stanley Cloud and Lynne Olson. Lynn has written about the era (pre- and post-World War II), including the compelling “Citizens of London.” “Murrow Boys” preceded, and was published in 1996. I don’t know how I missed it. This book is more timely than when it was twenty years ago. It’s even fresher.

It’s about the genesis of Edward R. Murrow and his “Boys” (Eric Severeid, William Shirer, Larry LeSueur, Charles Collingwood, Howard K.Smith, Winston Burdette, David Schoenbrun) — the guys he hired (all young men, first timers in the medium ) — to be foreign correspondents all over Europe in World War II. It was the beginning of Broadcast Journalism. They were there in the danger zones. Murrow’s instructions were to remember they were describing a foreign land and actual war to people living across America, far from but on the spot with those little radios. They became the new boys on the street. All of it draws you in because Cloud and Olson do what these early radio journalists did; they make it personal, as if you are in the room with them. And you even find yourself learning a lot about yourself.

NYSD was busy though. Wall to wall. JH and Danielle went to a luncheon for the American Friends of the Paris Opera & Ballet. They are here, as is the Bolshoi, and this was quite the weekend for ballet lovers. JH, incidentally, I can see is becoming quite a ballet aficionado. He was culturally reared in the classic sense by his mother and father (and grandparents also) who always had a box at the opera. The earlier the better when introducing a child or young person to opera and ballet. In JH’s case, his wife Danielle loves the ballet and has been going since she was a young girl. I, on the other hand, am a mere duffer in both — although I love music and am in awe of the dancers’ abilities (and flexibility) at the ballet.

Besides the ballet, JH started his weekend with an evening at theatre, guests of his parents. They saw Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 and afterwards went over to Sushi of Gari 46 for a birthday dinner with his ma. I don’t think he calls her “ma.” Happy birthday Rochelle!
The cast of Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 taking their bows.
After the show: Rochelle blowing out her birthday candle as David, her husband of 45 years!, looks on with admiration.
Then on Friday, the fun with the ballet began. Here’s JH's report with the high five and the lowdown:

Friday in New York was a big day for ballet. Over at the French Consulate, under the patronage of Anne-Claire Legendre, Consul General of France, the American Friends of the Paris Opera & Ballet hosted an intimate luncheon around Aurélie Dupont, former Etoile and current Directrice of the Paris Opera Ballet. The occasion was to honor the appearance of the Paris Opera Ballet in the 50th anniversary celebration of Balanchine's “Jewels” at the Lincoln Center Festival. “Jewels” originally premiered 50 years ago at the New York State Theater and this performance marked the first time the Paris Opera Ballet, New York City Ballet, and the Bolshoi have ever danced together on stage. A big deal in the world of ballet.
Cocktails were held on the second floor landing of the French Consulate at 934 Fifth Avenue. The house was built in 1926 by Walker and Gillette for financier Charles Mitchell. While living at 934 Fifth (up until 1933) Mitchell served as informal advisor to American presidents Warren G. Harding and Herbert Hoover. His wife, Elizabeth Mitchell, hosted numerous musical evenings at the house and George Gerswhin, Fritz Kreisler, Rudolph Ganz, Ignacy Padrewski or José Iturbi would regularly give recitals in the “Pink Room” where the lunch was held. It was not a happy ending for Mr. Mitchell for he was one of the men whose policies as head of First National City Bank (now Citibank) helped facilitate the speculation which led to the Crash of 1929.
As if Aurélie doesn't already have enough on her plate, she was here last week dancing at the Rose Theater with Saburo Teshigawara and Rihoko Sato in "Sleeping Water." No rest for the weary.
Ten patrons of the Paris Opera Ballet traveled from Paris to attend to the lunch as part of a three-day Patrons trip. The consensus: They all LOVE New York. And we love Paris, so the feeling is mutual. The Friends of the Paris Opera Ballet are, bar none, the best when it comes to creating this kind of cultural exchange between New Yorkers and Parisians.

Guests included AFPOB Chairman Olivia Flatto, Vice Chairman Marina Couloucoundis, the luncheon's underwriter Denise Littlefield Sobel, Shen Wei, Nigel Redden, Judith Hoffman, Muna Rihani Al-Nasser, Andrew Litton, Etoile Mathias Heymann, Cecelia Bacon, Pedro Torres, Maureen Footer, Janna Bullock, and Joanna Fisher.
Muna Rihani Al-Nasser, Aurélie Dupont, Andrew Litton, and Olivia Flatto.
Judith Hoffman, Denise Littlefield Sobel, Marina Couloucoundis, and Jean-Yves Kaced.
Denise Littlefield Sobel, Hal Witt, Mary Cronson, and Joanna Fisher.
Arnaud Dreyfus and Flavien Moglia.
Flavien Moglia, Etienne Binant, and Jean-Yves Kaced.
Cecelia Bacon, Pedro Torres, and Maureen Footer.
Janna Bullock, Joanna Fisher, and Xin Fu Rassinoux.
Olivia Flatto, Aurélie Dupont, and Nigel Redden.
Chantal Martin, Ondine Diakhate, Laure Vienot-Tronche, and Pierre Lafarge.
Jean-Yves Kaced, Aminata Sissoko, Pierre Lafarge, Claudie Diakhate, Alison Chekhar, and Mathieu Ganio
Olivia Flatto, Debora Spar, Aurélie Dupont, Shen Wei, and Anne-Claire Legendre, Consul General of France of New York.
Anne-Claire Legendre, Denise Littlefield Sobel, Jeff Hirsch, Muna Rihani Al-Nasser, and Marie-France Kern.
Jean-Yves Kaced, Aminata Sissoko, and Etienne Binant.
Janna Bullock and Corice Arman.
Andrea and Ken Brodlieb.
Frederique Rey, Claudie Diakhate, Ariana Muessel, Pierre Lafarge, and Chantal Martin.
Mathias Heymann and Danielle Hirsch.
Olivia Flatto and Aurélie Dupont doing conducting a little Q&A for the benefit of the guests.
The luncheon was held in the "Pink Room" for about 60 guests.
The delicious raspberry tart for dessert. That's Muna Rihani Al-Nasser's iPhone case complementing the theme of the lunch perfectly ("Jewels") as well as the gold leaf atop the tart.
Each table had a framed photograph of Aurélie Dupont dancing the lead role in a different ballet.
Later that evening, Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) took a parcel of best seats and brought their board and donors to the Koch Theater as the Paris Opera Ballet, New York City Ballet, and the Bolshoi came together on stage for the second of five performances of Jewels. On this night, The Paris Opera Ballet danced Emeralds, the Bolshoi Rubies, and New York City Ballet Diamonds.

This rarely seen "gem" of a ballet pays homage to three distinct styles of dance and Balanchine's life and loves. Emeralds, set to Fauré, evokes French elegance and romance. Fueled by Stravinsky, Rubies captures the exuberance of Jazz Age America. And Diamonds, set to Tchaikovsky's lush Third Symphony, encapsulates the grandeur of Imperial Russia.
The Paris Opera Ballet taking their bows following their performance of "Emeralds."
Danseur Étoiles Hugo Marchand and Dorothée Gilbert.
The Bolshoi taking their bows following their performance of "Rubies."
Ekaterina Krysanova and Artem Ovcharenko.
The New York City Ballet taking their bows following their performance of "Diamonds."
Tyler Angle and Sara Mearns.
Exiting the David Koch Theater where Jewels first premiered 50 years ago.
Walking through the lobby ...
... and into the Josie Robertson Plaza.
On Thursday night, The Paris Opera Ballet, The New York City Ballet, and the Bolshoi took their bows together on stage.
Immediately following the performance of "Jewels," many of the dancers and YAGP alumni attended a reception at Susan Gutfreund's Fifth Avenue home.

There were quite a few celebratory events over the course of the weekend celebrating this historic occasion, but Susan's party may have been the best of the parties. Not only were dancers there from all three companies invited, but also stars of ABT (including Calvin Royal III and Marcelo Gomez) and elsewhere (like Ricardo Rhodes, Principal Dancer, Sarasota Ballet), plus former dancers like the divine Allegra Kent. Susan went out of her way to ensure that all the young dancer felt at home, greeting each in their own language (this included Albanian for NYCB's Spartak Hoxha).

YAGP is the world's largest global network of dance. It fulfills its mission of dance education through scholarship auditions, master classes, alumni services, performances, films plus educational and outreach activities like this magnificent evening.
Emma Powers, Allegra Kent, and Susan Gutfreund.
Olivia Flatto and Aurélie Dupont.
Joshua Lenihan, Howard Paley, and Richard Osterweil.
Christopher Grant, Spartak Hoxha, Andee Dooley, and Susan Gutfreund.
Ricardo Rhodes, Calvin Royal III, Jacek Mysinski, and Marcelo Gomes.
James Bort and Dorothée Gilbert.
Christopher and Amy Astley.
Judith M. Hoffman, Joanna Fisher, and Susan Gutfreund.
Jeff and Danielle Hirsch with George Vanderploeg.
Harrison Ball, Megan LaCrone, Semyon Chudin, and Alvina Chudin.
Skylar Brandt, Gabe Stone Shayer, Susan Gutfreund, and April Giangeruso.
Susan Gutfreund, Benny Tabatabai, and Xiaoshan Ren.
David Weinreb, Ana Laspetkovski, Susan Gutfreund, Judith M. Hoffman, and Ralph Rucci.
Gabe Stone Shayer, Regina Kudoyarova, Yuri Vodolaga, and Gary Brandt.
Sergei Ivonin and Kristina Allegra.
Elizabeth Orlov, Millicent Powers, and Natalie Powers.
Josh Lenin and Ellen Levitt.
Regina Kudoyarova, Elizabeth Orlov, Natalie Orlov, Judith M. Hoffman, Vicky Reiss, and Allegra Kent.
Allen London, Maggie Brush, Lucille Corrier, and Margot London.
Marcelo Gomes, Ricky Rhodes, Jacek Mysinski, Calvin Royal III, , Olga Smirnova, Gabe Stone Shayer, Harrison Ball, Skylar Brandt, April Giangeruso, Megan LeCrone, Alvina Chudin and Semyon Chudin. Susan made many new friends and when she returned to the Koch Theater for the Saturday matinee she was greeted backstage with hugs from more than a dozen dancers.

Photographs by Paul Bruinooge/PMC

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