Friday, January 5, 2024. Cold and mainly cloudy, yesterday in New York with the midday temps touching 40 and the forecast for now today, Friday.
The remarkable Alice Mason, the formerly prominent real estate broker here in New York, passed away yesterday at 100 years and two months. It was Alice’s intention, long ago before, that she wanted to live for a century. And indeed she did.
Aside from her social reputation for her dinner parties for sixty, sitdown in her apartment on East 72nd Street ten times a year, she profoundly affected the private real estate market in New York, and was a prominent fundraiser in Democratic Presidential campaigns, beginning with Jimmy Carter in 1975/76 raising $250,000. From ten couples at a dinner party at her apartment. She did the same for Bill and Hillary Clinton in 1992.
I first met Alice about three decades ago, through Judy Green who was a longtime friend of hers. I came to know her because she invited me to many of her dinners. Over time we occasionally met for lunch, and toward the end of her career in business she shared a great deal of her life story with me, assuming I could use it for reference when I wrote about her life. It was a remarkable life for a little girl from Philadelphia, daughter of a family named Christmas with a father who was a prominent black dentist. We will be posting Alice’s story on Monday’s Diary.
Meanwhile, as our holiday begins to wind down, on New Year’s Eve, the Metropolitan Opera ushered in a New Year’s Eve gala evening that began with the new production premiere of Bizet’s Carmen, followed by dinner, along with dancing, and fireworks on the Mercedes T. Bass Grand Tier.
Shortly before midnight, Met Opera General Manager Peter Gelb introduced the cast and creative, and then began the countdown to midnight – at which point confetti rained down on the partygoers, and the fireworks display began on the Met’s outdoor balcony.
The evening was chaired by Adrienne Arsht, (her fifth time as NYE gala chair); the other underwriters were the Berry Charitable Foundation, and Elizabeth and Jean-Marie Eveillard.
Carmen starred the 27-year-old mezzo-soprano Aigul Akhmetshina, the youngest person ever to sing the role in a new production at the Met. Sharing the stage with her as her lover Don José was tenor Rafael Davila, replacing an ill colleague on short notice; Angel Blue as Micaëla, and Kyle Ketelsen as Escamillo.
The production was directed by Carrie Cracknell also making her Met debut, and the performance was conducted by the Daniele Rustioni.
Nearly 500 guests attended the post-performance festivities; and the performance itself was sold out. Total money raised was $1.8 million.
Notable guests included Met Opera General Manager Peter Gelb, conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson, Ann Ziff, Mercedes Bass, Graham Berwind, Lynn Nesbit, Barbara Tober, Denise Sobel. Arsht’s guests included Broadway stars Jason Danieley, Danny Burstein, George Dvorsky, plus Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry, and the Cuban-American composer Tania León.
A silver color scheme marked the décor, with silver damask cloths, glittering votives, centerpieces of white hydrangeas, silver roses and silvery ferns, with one notable pop of red roses (for Carmen) and one red chair for the host at each table. Festive silver favors were distributed at midnight.
The great American songbook was in full swing at Marc Rosen’s holiday cocktail party in the waning days of ’23 with Lee Glantz at the Steinway.
Wearing a 25-year-old Sulka silk paisley jacket he found in back of his closet, Marc thanked friends from different areas of his life that had supported and sustained him over the last two years since his wife Arlene Dahl had passed.
Wishing everyone a Happy New Year, he toasted the group which included: Susan Gutfreund, Gale Hayman, Peter Bacanovic, Roberta and Arthur Houghton, Aeros Wang, Cornelia Bregman, Jamie Saatvitne and Daniel Chow, Eganam and Alison Segbefia, Matthew Tirchwell, Cheri Kaufman and Bill Schlight, Ned Kelly, Elizabeth Kabler and Peter Psaras, Edward Thome and Drew Butler.
Catching up; just before the big holiday. The Belmont Child Care Association, Inc. (BCCA) celebrated the holidays with its Mistletoe Madness Holiday Luncheon on December 19th at a private club in town where BCCA proudly recognized its 2023 Honoree, Kathleen Noonan, Tiffany & Co. Senior Account Manager.
Guests enjoyed a fashion presentation from philanthropist and designer, Ala von Auersperg, and the musical stylings of jazz duo Andrew Andron and Raul Reyes Bueno. Fashion historian, John Tiffany, provided insight into the 1973 Fashion Battle at the Palace of Versailles and guests learned more about Ala von Auersperg as the designer joined Tiffany on stage for a Q&A.
BCCA’s mission is to provide a safe, supportive, and academically inspiring environment for the children of parents working in the Thoroughbred racing backstretch area located at New York’s historic Belmont Park, Aqueduct Racetrack, and Saratoga Race Course. They are committed to promoting early childhood education, molding young minds, and encouraging the fulfillment of dreams.
BCCA operates an early childhood education and development program for children year-round at Anna House, Belmont Park, and during the Summer race meet at Faith’s House, Saratoga Race Course.
Anna House is open 365 days/year for children between the ages of 6 weeks to 5 years old, opening at 5 a.m. so parents can get to the barns on time.
BCCA provides after-school tutoring and enrichment programs, and before-school drop-off for elementary and middle school students, making it a continual resource for the children of the backstretch.
Visit www.belmontchildcare.org to learn more about BCCA’s one-of-a-kind programs.
And, the last of the ’23 events. The New England Society in the City of New York hosted the 218th Assembly and Dinner Dance at a private club in Manhattan. This event is a festive celebration of the season – all proceeds go to supporting our Scholarship Program to help underprivileged NYC kids attend their dream colleges.
Among the guests were honorees, Niles Parker, the Executive Director of the Nantucket Historical Association, and Robert Wolterstoff, The Susan E. Lynch Executive Director of the Bruce Museum in Greenwich. Over 80 guests enjoyed dinner and dancing to Alex Donner’s Band. The Annual JP Morgan Award for distinguished service to the New England Society was awarded this year to lifetime member, Alex Donner.
Since NES was founded in 1805 members and friends have gathered for an annual celebration. Some of NES’ esteemed past members are John F. Kennedy, J. P. Morgan, Theodore Roosevelt, John D. Rockefeller, Charles Tiffany.