A little opera, some scrumptious culinary delights and a touch of jazz made last week’s party schedule oh-so-much fun.
Opéra Louisiane invited guests to its Halloween Opera Ball to don their “fiendish finest” the night of Oct. 23. The City Club looked like a scene out of “Phantom of the Opera” or maybe Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” as everyone seemed inspired by the challenge. Master of ceremonies for the evening was swashbuckling Artistic Director Michael Borowitz.
Entertaining those guests were guest artist soprano Cassandra Black, as Lady Macbeth. Opéra Louisiane’s Resident Artist Quartet ( A lexander Henderson, McKenzie Miller, Zoie Reams and Travis Richter) summoned witches from Verdi’s chilling opera. The night’s agenda also included dancing, a champagne toast and a fabulous live auction.
Day of the Mentor
Earlier that day, I had lunch at Cortana Mall with a host of Little Buddies and their mentors at Big Buddy’s 17th annual Day of the Mentor luncheon. The luncheon is the finale of a day that begins with breakfast followed by a visit to the mentor’s workplace.
Needless to say, there was lots of excitement in the air as everyone gathered together to share the day’s experience. Specifically, Alex Juan, executive director of the USS Kidd, and her Little Buddy, Catalina Penna, and Chris King and his Little Buddy, Russell Celestin, talked about how much fun they had.
Also causing quite a bit of excitement was Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation Executive Director Michael Tipton’s presentation of a $50,000 Angels of Change grant to Big Buddy Executive Director Gaylynne Mack as part of its 20th anniversary. The money will be used to help establish a Youth Development Center.
Power of Women
The following day’s party hopping started with the Capital Area United Way’s Celebrate the Power of Women reception at the Crowne Plaza. Featured speaker for the evening was LSU Gymnastics coach D-D Breaux.
Members of its Women’s Leadership Council and guests got to hear Breaux’s inspiring words and also honor three very special women with a new round of awards. Taking home these debut honors were local attorney Mary Terrell Joseph, Legacy of Service Award; Lechana Rankins, Woman of Inspiration Award; and Volunteers of America CEO Jane Shank, Leadership Excellence Award.
Art & Soul
From the Crowne Plaza, I headed to B’nai Israel Synagogue for its night of Art & Soul. Along with a silent auction of amazing art , including a stunning black-and-white dahlia (I think) by buddy David Humphreys, the festivities included a wine tasting, signature cocktails, delicious smelling hors d’oeuvres and an amazing performance by local jazz legend Bill Grimes and his quartet. Adding a little spice to the performance was vocalist Stephanie Jordan, of New Orleans.
Proceeds from the event support the synagogue’s music programs.
Taste of the South
I didn’t sample the hors d’oeuvres at Art & Soul because I was saving all my calories for the Baton Rouge chapter of the Louisiana Restaurant Association’s second annual Taste of the South event at L’Auberge Casino & Hotel. This year’s event featured four New Orleans chefs demonstrating how to cook the dishes the 100-plus guests were served.
We started off with GW Fins’ chef Tenney Flynn preparing fresh Gulf barbecue shrimp, followed by chef Cody Carroll’s dish of sac-a-lait, smoked oysters and white sweet potato bisque with sugar-cured pork jowl and aged goat cheddar. The entrée of filet mignon with roasted onion Yukon gold mashed potatoes, asparagus and marchands de vin finished with a Bérnaise sauce was prepared by chef Gus Martin from Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse. La Petite Grocery chef Austin Breckenridge created the night’s dessert of chocolate marquis with sea salt brittle. Each course was accompanied by a carefully selected wine. For the recipes prepared by the chefs, check out EatPlayLive on Nov. 12.
In between the courses, emcee chef Greg Reggio conducted a live auction. The one-of-a-kind dinners and one amazing outdoor trip earned an impressive $11,600 for the chapter’s ProStart program and education foundation. The sale of a cooler handmade from wooden wine boxes by Todd Husers, of Prairieville, added another $150 to the coffers.
Guests needed waders to make it to last Sunday’s fête hosted by the Charity Ball Association to welcome its newest members. Graciously opening their home for the soggy get-together were Jean and Marc Couvillion. Welcoming guests with the hosts were President Lisa Mayeaux, party chairwoman Amber Saia and her co-chair, Mary Stabiler.
The honorees included Leslie and Scott Berg, Lynn and Beau Box, Kristen and Craig Greene, Leigh and Jason Greene, Ashley and Cary Guglielmo, Joanne and Charles Harvey, Caroline and Ben Lemann, Stacey and Tom Moore, Jennifer and Sean Reilly, Kristen and Mark Spring, Karen and Anthony Stephens, Anna and Mackie Wall and Mary and Neal Weller.
In the middle of all this excitement, I got to join some friends in celebrating their latest exciting venture. Laurie Aronson, dad Richard Lipsey, Brett Furr, Gordon McKernan and David Weinstein hosted an open house Oct. 21 for the new Baton Rouge Jet Center, located on Chuck Yeager Avenue out by Metro Airport. What a welcoming spot this is for folks flying in and out of Baton Rouge in private planes.
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