Prince Orlofsky’s Ball

“This is a beautiful example of an elegant evening with friends,” said one ball-goer as she observed the black-tie assembly in the gorgeous, newly renovated Orpheum Theater. “And so appropriately staged to benefit the Opera,” she added. Opulence was to the fore.

Indeed it was. For the 47th annual Opera Ball, the fete forces titled it “Prince Orlofsky’s Ball,” drawing from a gala moment of the most recently staged production of the New Orleans Opera Association, “Die Fledermaus.” Masks figured prominently in both balls.

Cast in leadership roles were the Opera Ball chaircouple, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred E. Stacey IV, with Sonda catching every eye in a stunning gown with gold glints, no doubt reminiscent of the Klimt painting of “The Woman in Gold” that was featured on the gala’s invitation and recalled the thrilling glory of Vienna, where the above opera occurred.

Teamed with the Staceys to chair the ball was Skarlett Roa. The two ladies, Sonda and Skarlett, are respectively from the hosting Women’s Guild of the New Orleans Opera Association and the Junior Committee. The annual ball is the guild’s main fundraiser with proceeds slated to support the Opera Association’s stage productions and educational programs. History plays a part too: New Orleans is the first city of opera in the country.

Further leadership came from Women’s Guild President Betsy (Mrs. Patrick) Dowling; Mmes. John L. Eckholdt and Bruce A. Gordon, Virginia and Melissa, as vice presidents of fundraising; Junior Committee Chairwomen Torry Dean and Summer Duperon; New Orleans Opera President Dr. Ranney Mize; general and artistic director Maestro Robert Lyall; Opera Ball advisers Mmes. John P. Fleming and John W. Hall, Erin and Carol; and auction Chairwomen Mmes. John Empey (Deborah “Debbie” Alciatore-Empey) and M. Kimball Schlafly (Michelle). Many had attended the two pre-event parties: The Benefactor Party at the lakefront home of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Buchler and the Patron Party at the Orpheum, right before the gala ball.

Thanked as the top “Die Fledermaus” sponsors were Joanne Mantis, First NBC, and Mr. Joseph Young Jr. and Dr. Aysen Young. Additional sponsors rated profuse gratitude.

A top-notch auction lured many of the “Orlofsky” set, who then sat for a gourmet dinner by Horst Pfeifer of Bella Luna Catering. Table decorations alternated tall and lower centerpieces, respectively in silver vases and Revere bowls, of red roses and white flowers, greenery, and tiny white branches. Recalled were arrangements from balls of the early 19th century.

Further features were the live auction “winners,” Dee Long (a David Yurman bracelet) and Bill Coe (a pearl and diamond ring, as well as the “Live Event” painting done that night by artist Shannon Mullen). All the while there was general milling, thanks to spouses of the above, along with Charles and Diane Dupin, Byron and Suzanne Scott, Tom and Betty Davidson, Ronald and Cindy Mistrot, A.J. and Eileen Capritto, Bruce and Jane Miller, Margie Breeden, the Ralph Coxes, Elroy and Judy Eckhardt, Knowles French, Joann Wisdom, Jean Rice, Jerry and Annette Hudson, Brett and Cheryl Bauman, Bob and Ann Anderson, Cherry Bordelon, Jackie Elliott, Don and Teresa Guzzetta, Thomas and Fay Wartelle, William and Dee Long, Holley Haag with Patrick Quinn, Al and Penny Baumer, Mary de La Barre, Kathy Christian, Diane Johnston, Henri and Terence Hall, John and Pat Kelly and countless others, many masked.

Unmasked for musical merriment were the throngs who flocked to the dance floor for the generational-gamut sounds of Jubilation. “Jump, Jive an’ Wail” attracted an energetic lot, as did “Mack the Knife.” With the splendid ambiance and attire, punctuated by liveliness and festivity, a nod of approbation by the opera’s Prince Orlofsky would have been a sure thing.

Courtly Celebration

One of the liveliest yule fetes is the anniversary party given by and at the New Orleans Lawn Tennis Club. For the 139th anniversary ado, Robert Olivier hosted the president’s reception for one hour before the members’ merrymaking. That reception recognizes past club presidents, as well as current members of the board of governors and their spouses.

Paul LaCour was credited with the lovely decorations that included “old time” tennis scenes painted on canvas and draped from the vaulted ceiling of the ballroom, along with lighted swags of garland centered by Christmas wreaths. Once again, Saffron Catering purveyed, regaling taste buds with corn and crab bisque, crusted beef tenderloin, marinated mozzarella “pearls” with sliced tomatoes, and an array of desserts. “Try this one,” said a party-goer indicating the sticky toffee pudding cake.

Headliners were the above club President Robert Olivier with Barbara, immediate past President Ben Banta and Kathleen, Vice President Eric Holden and Lisa, Secretary Mason Couvillon and Jennifer, and board members Judge Karen Herman, Robert Redfearn Jr. with Cheryl, John Jeremiah with Lisa, Shaw Thompson with Ann, and Jeff Scurlock with Kathryn.

Noted, too, were David and Caroline Kearney, Rhett and Madhavi King, Neil and Hannah Kohlman, Milton and Marley Morris, Claiborne and Jeanie Perrilliat, Rob and Joanne Marier, Lee and Virginia Barba, Michael and Meredith Pinkerton, Samuel and Michele Prokop, Gary and Lisa Zoller, and scores more. Making his rounds, too, was club manager Lee Stall.

Now for the music! When this annual bash gets going, almost no one stays seated. Kermit Ruffins & the BBQ Swingers did their dance floor wizardry in the second floor ballroom and rounded up the revelers.

A Nod to Noel

Betsy and Dr. Mark Henson opened the doors of their home for the annual Christmas Social of the Metairie Woman’s Club.

Greeting guests with the host couple was club President Fran Puig. Special thanks tapped party Chairwoman Linda Sharp, who was joined by Ed. Martin Wine Cellar, Toulouse Catering and member-provided dishes fed the festive flock, who enjoyed beef tenderloin, spinach and berry salad, chicken pasta, and various dips and cheeses.

Host Mark Henson reaped raves for this delicious Christmas chocolate cake, a special attraction within the suite of sweets. Exchanging news of the season were past MWC Presidents Ginger Crawford, Virginia Cullens, Jerri Klein with Burt, Coleen Landry with Elgin, Mary Membreno, Iona Myers, Sue Rooney with daughter Peggy, Melanie Rose, and Evelyn Smith.

They caught up on the latest of President-elect Carrel Epling, Caroline Bartolotta, Rubye and Bob Evans, the above Jackie Elliott, Irene Klinger, Marion Lacoste, Jean McGovern, June Prados with Wilfred, and Stephanie Tufaro.

All admired the home in its Christmas finery. Garlands, wreaths, candles and greens made the social seasonally splendid.