A Luncheon to Celebrate the Paris Opera’s 2024/2025 Season at the French Consulate

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A conversation over lunch with José Martinez, Alexander Neef, and Olivia Tournay Flatto.

The American Friends of the Paris Opera & Ballet recently hosted an exclusive luncheon at the French Consulate in New York, unveiling the highly anticipated 2024/2025 season of the Paris Opera. The event, held under the auspices of chairman Olivia Tournay Flatto, brought together a distinguished group of patrons and supporters for an afternoon of culture.

With over 350 years of history, the Paris Opera is renowned for its exceptional programming at both the Palais Garnier and the Bastille Opera House. These iconic theaters, celebrated for their unique architecture, host over 400 performances annually. The Paris Opera’s rich array of ballet, opera, and concert programs, alongside special offerings for younger audiences, underscores its mission to make lyrical and choreographic heritage accessible to all, promote contemporary works, and contribute to the professional development of artists.

21-José Martinez, Alexander Neef, Olivia Tournay Flatto
José Martinez, Alexander Neef, and Olivia Tournay Flatto.

The luncheon featured insightful presentations from key figures of the Paris Opera. Alexander Neef, the Paris Opera General Director, shared his vision for the upcoming season, highlighting the institution’s commitment to excellence and innovation. José Martinez, the Paris Opera Ballet Director, offered a captivating overview of the ballet productions planned for the season, reflecting his passion for dance and dedication to nurturing new talent.

Olivia Tournay Flatto, alongside Jean-Yves Kaced, head of the Paris Opera Philanthropy in Europe, addressed the attendees, emphasizing the crucial role of philanthropy in sustaining the arts. Their speeches reinforced the importance of collective support to ensure the Paris Opera continues to thrive and reach new audiences. With nearly 900,000 spectators each year, the Paris Opera remains dedicated to welcoming new audiences through innovative projects designed to enhance appreciation and discovery of opera and dance.

22-Laurent Brunet
Laurent Brunet.

The American Friends of the Paris Opera & Ballet, a not-for-profit association established in 1984 at the request of Rudolf Nureyev, played a pivotal role in organizing this elegant luncheon. Nureyev, then Director of the Paris Opera Ballet, envisioned organizing tours of the United States, which led to the creation of AFPOB, one of the earliest associations of American friends. Since its inception, AFPOB has facilitated numerous tours by the Paris Opera, the Opera Ballet, and the Académie, as well as U.S. appearances by artists affiliated with the Paris Opera.

One of AFPOB’s core objectives is to build cultural bridges between the Paris Opera and American audiences and artists, promoting Franco-American friendship and cultural exchange. Through a vibrant program of artistic and educational exchanges, patrons’ trips, and special events, AFPOB continues to share the treasures of the Paris Opera with American audiences, fostering cultural and artistic exchanges between the United States and France.

2-Alexander Neef Olivia Tournay Flatto
Alexander Neef and Olivia Tournay Flatto.

The luncheon was a resounding success leaving attendees excited for the upcoming season, including AFPOB trustees Serena Lese, Marie-France Kern, Sana Sabbagh, Marina Couloucoundis, Catherine Juracich, Andrew Martin-Weber, Maureen Footer, and Hal Witt, as well as philanthropists Elizabeth Eveillard, Denise Littlefield Sobel, Sarah Billinghurst Solomon, AFPOB Executive Director Jeanne Hoefliger, and Laurent Brunet, Director of the Chancellerie in New York

Additional guests included Allyson Tang, Nabil Chartouni, B Michael, Grimanesa Amorós , Helen Y. Little, Melissa Wegner, Susan Gutfreund, Ursula Haulte-Striker, Sylvia Owen, Robert Turner, Annie and Barbara Labatt, Alexandra Landegger, Tom Gold, Christina de Marval, Stanford Makishi, David Foster, Sandra Nunnerley, Sergey Gordeev, Jovani Furlan, Ben Rodriguez, Nicole Salmasi, Danika Gould, and Catherine Baumann.

Jeanne Hoefliger, Catherine Juracich; Olivia Tournay Flatto José Martinez
L. to r.: Jeanne Hoefliger and Catherine Juracich; Olivia Tournay Flatto and José Martinez.
4-Hal Witt, Denise Littlefield Sobel, Allyson Tang
Hal Witt, Denise Littlefield Sobel, and Allyson Tang.
Peter Speliopoulos, Elizabeth Eveillard, and Robert Turner.
6-Beejan Land, Nicole Salmasi, Andrew Martin-Weber
Beejan Land, Nicole Salmasi, and Andrew Martin-Weber.
8-Jean-Yves Kaced, Olivia Tournay Flatto, Marina Aaron, Herve Aaron
Jean-Yves Kaced, Olivia Tournay Flatto, Marina Aaron, and Herve Aaron.
14-Olivia Tournay Flatto, B Michael; 9-Liesl Landegger, Alexandra Landegger
L. to r.: Olivia Tournay Flatto and B Michael; Liesl Landegger and Alexandra Landegger.
10-Kiki Spenfieri, Christina De-Marval, Jeanne Hoefliger, Grimanesa Amoros, Ben Rodriguez-Cubenas
Kiki Spenfieri, Christina De-Marval, Jeanne Hoefliger, Grimanesa Amoros, and Ben Rodriguez-Cubenas.
11- Jeffrey Hirsch, Tom Gold, Danielle Hirsch
Jeffrey Hirsch, Tom Gold, and Danielle Hirsch.
12-Sergey Gordeev, Jovani Furlan
Sergey Gordeev and Jovani Furlan.
12bis-Nicole Salmasi, Catherine Juracich, Danika Gould, Gaelle Benchetrit, Catherine Baumann
Nicole Salmasi, Catherine Juracich, Danika Gould, Gaelle Benchetrit, and Catherine Baumann.
13bis-Stanford Makishi, Sandra Nunnerley, Giacinta McNaught-Davis, Hal Witt
Stanford Makishi, Sandra Nunnerley, Giacinta McNaught-Davis, and Hal Witt.
13-Melissa Wegner, Francesca Condeluci; 19-Olivia Tournay Flatto, Sana Sabbagh
L. to r.: Melissa Wegner and Francesca Condeluci; Olivia Tournay Flatto and Sana Sabbagh.
15-Robert Turner, Marie-France Kern
Robert Turner and Marie-France Kern.
16-Catherine Juracich, Mohamed Bouabdallah
Catherine Juracich, Mohamed Bouabdallah.
17-José Martinez, Maureen Footer
José Martinez and Maureen Footer.
18-Olivia Tournay Flatto, Annie Labatt
Olivia Tournay Flatto and Annie Labatt.
20-Sylvia Owen, Susan Gutfreund.jpg
Sylvia Owen and Susan Gutfreund.

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