Four men — two long gone from the world of art and poetry, and another brace for whom opera is the whirl — stirred up recent socializing. In shortened form, they were Edgar, Robbie (for the deceased), Michael and Bryan. With surnames, Messrs. Degas, Burns, Adams and Hymel.
The Private Impressionist
“Works on Paper by the Artist and His Circle” subtitled the exhibit that is showing in the Newcomb Art Gallery, Tulane University, and will run through May 24. It is free and open to the public. The fuller, and major, title is “Edgar Degas: The Private Impressionist.” In the featured drawings, prints, sculpture, and photographs, the personality of Degas, who spent months in New Orleans, comes through, as well as his artistic skill. Works by other well-known artists are also exhibited.
The Landau Traveling Exhibitions, in association with Denenberg Fine Arts (both in California), organized the exhibit. Support was provided by Tulane University’s Office of Academic Affairs and Provost.
On a recent Wednesday evening, a gallery members’/VIP reception took place for an hour, after which the general public was invited. The evening began with an exhibition tour by Robert Flynn Johnson, curator emeritus, San Francisco Fine Arts Museums, whose collection is presented. The exhibition was brought to Tulane in conjunction with “Degas in New Orleans & France,” a course taught by assistant professor Michelle Foa.
With a distinctive nod to Degas’ Gallic roots, there was a selection of French wines and cheeses, quiches, and palmiers served on café tables with red French tulips, and musical renditions by French performers of yore, such as Josephine Baker, Maurice Chevalier and Edith Piaf.
Among those mingling about, and eyeing the 35 works by Degas (plus those by his circle), were Ogden Museum of Southern Art deputy director Libra LaGrone and TU professor of practice Casius Pealer; Raymond Hinz, cultural attache deputy from the French Consulate General; TU professor of architecture Errol Barron; Degas House owner David Villarrubia, who is now calling attention to the DH as a museum; Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities director Miranda Restovic; New Orleans Museum of Art curatorial assistant Anne Roberts; Dr. Henry and Audrey Threefoot; jazz trumpeter Clive Wilson; and artist Mark Bercier. Also from Tulane were Ginny Wise (development) and mom Carol Wise, dean emeritus Martha Sullivan, art historian Elizabeth Boone and professor of French Felicia McCarren, and, with the above Michelle Foa, Jeremy Jernegan, professor or art, ceramics.
The Caledonian Society of New Orleans held the 41st annual Burns Supper at the Southern Yacht Club in honor of Robert Burns, 1759-1796, “Scottish poet, bard and patron extraordinaire.” A non-profit organization, the Caledonian Society is open to all interested in the preservation of the ancient Scottish way of life and has as its purpose “to study, preserve, teach and present the culture, history, heraldry, pageantry, music, literature, crafts and all the arts of Scotland and the Isles.” At the gala dinner almost all of that fused formally and festively.
White Jacobite roses with heather and thistle, and arranged by Lance von Uhde III, decorated the premises, as did a portrait of Burns and clan shields. Piping came from members of the Pipes and Drums of New Orleans/Kilts of Many Colours and included Robert Grubb, Cameron Hall, and Pam Rossi. Further notables were society President Wendy Grubb, mistress of ceremonies Christyn Elliott with husband Michael, David Grissett for the Burns’ Grace, and the above piper Cameron Hall, who led the procession of the Haggis. Richard B. McConnell III, accompanied by Laurie, gave the Address to the Haggis, and after dinner (which included serving the Haggis prepared by Wendy Grubb), Lillian B. Bowles, joined by Ricks, gave the Immortal Memory. Always a note of levity, there was the Toast to the Lassies and the Response to the Laddies, given, in turn, by Wayne Gordon and Virginia Dowager Urquhart of Urquhart.
The program continued with Margaret Fridley’s reading of the list of departed members and Robert Grubb’s piping of “Flowers of the Forest,” followed by Scottish country and ballroom dancing with music by the New Orleans Strathspey & Reel Society.
Figuring in the Caledonian camaraderie, as well, were society Treasurer Louis Greer, Secretary Glenn Raby, Scott Bond, Christopher Tidmore, native Scot Judy Dauterive and Neville, Gerry Ward, Richard and Amie Seba, Catherine Cahn, Florence Jumonville, Greg Duhe, Joe and Ann Campbell, a Baton Rouge foursome in Tom and Catherine Mungall and Michael and Laurie Compton, and dozens more, who, at the conclusion, formed a circle for the singing of “Auld Lang Syne.”
Auditions and Adulation
Suspense and excitement were to the operatic fore when a dozen singers between the ages of 21 and 29, winners of the districts of New Orleans, Houston and Puerto Rico, competed at Loyola’s Roussel Hall in the Gulf Coast Regional Final of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Support group Amici was to the fore. The judges were Metropolitan Opera Judge Christopher McBeth and associate judges Jane Bunnell, Carroll Freeman and Joshua Major, who gave a master class the following day at Loyola underwritten by Ellen Frohnmayer in memory of her husband, professor Phil Frohnmayer.
For the regional final, Roussel Hall was set with a Steinway concert grand piano and flowers by Federico’s Family Florist. After each one sang, there was a long session when the judges huddled to decide among Emily Louise Robinson, Andres Cascante, Chary Williams, Casey Candebat, Carmenchu Dominguez Alvarado, Ricardo Rivera, Kaitlyn Strobbe, Leroy Y. Davis, Johnathan Riesen, Michael Adams, Teresa Castillo and Christopher Besch. Michael Borowitz and Jose Melendez were the pianists. Meriting top laurels were Michael Adams, the winner, who will compete in the semi-finals in New York City on March 15 (the grand finals are a week later); Leroy Davis, second place; and tied for third, Casey Candebat and Ricardo Rivera. With the exception of tenor Candebat, all are baritones. “This is perhaps the most competitive auditions we’ve ever had,” said a devotee, whose words attested to the wealth of young talent and how hard it was for the judges to decide.
From Loyola, it was on to the Tara-inspired home on St. Charles Avenue of Chickie and John Martin for a cocktail-buffet chaired by Eileen (Mrs. A.J.) Capritto. Noted were GCR Co-Chairman Diane (Mrs. Charles L.) Dupin, co-directors Eleanor and Philip Straub, Amici President Claire (Mrs. Harry C.) Stahel, and bass baritone Marc Embree.
Also, Dr. Charles Dupin, Harry Stahel, A.J. Capritto, Melissa and Bruce Gordon, Michelle and Kimball Schlafly, Ada Sofia Esteves, Joe and Aysen Young, Michael Harold, Judy and Elroy Eckhardt, Leo and Effie Ehrhardt, Robert Pope, JoAnn Adams, Virginia Dare Ruffin, Ellen (Mrs. Dermot) McGlinchey, Anita and William Drezdzon (in from Chicago, but they now also have a pad in New Orleans), Mary Reidy, and Diane and George Fee. All extended hearty congratulations to the 12 contestants and wished Michael Adams a grand success in New York.
An Afternoon with Bryan Hymel
Almost all of the above from the auditions/Amici ado were in attendance at “An Afternoon with Bryan Hymel,” which started with a private reception for Loyola Society members and special friends of the College of Music and Fine Arts (whose dean is Dr. Anthony DeCuir) on the second floor of Loyola’s beautifully re-done Monroe Hall. Folks then moved into the adjacent refurbished Nunemaker Auditorium for the special musical performance by tenor Hymel, a Loyola alumnus who has sung to great acclaim at the Metropolitan Opera (and elsewhere), and accompanist Carol Rausch. He got thunderous standing ovations for his arias. Post-performance, he autographed his new album, “Heroique: French Opera Arias.” “Bravos” never stopped.