Oh! What Nights!

Three super socials occurred on the same evening, and within blocks of one another, thanks to the Ogden Museum of Southern Arts’ annual gala, the Good Shepherd School’s feat of feet, and the Opera Gala. A good time was the order of the lively evening.

Hail to Pamela and Alfred!

“O What a Night!,” the Ogden’s on-site bash was presented by Hearst and WDSU-TV and honored spouses Pamela J. Joyner and Alfred J. Giuffrida with the Opus Award. Their collection, “Solidary & Solitary,” which was presented by The Helis Foundation and is organized by the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and The Baltimore Museum of Art, had an opening reception at the Ogden two days before the gala. That same night, the gala’s Patron Party Preview unfolded at the stunning Allison Kendrick residence in the Garden District. Whitney Bank was the presenter.

Back to the bash! Teamed to chair “O” were Alexa Georges and husband Jerry Armatis. More headliners were art auctioneer Robbie Gordy of Christie’s, who rated raves for the movement of the 20 lots — with choice works by Ida Kohlmeyer, Lin Emery, George Dunbar, Simon Gunning, John Alexander, James Michalopoulos, and Hunt Slonem, among other generous donors — in the live auction that reaped exciting "$ales"; Kristen Essig and Michael Stoltzfus, of Coquette, who purveyed during the New Orleans Auction Galleries-sponsored silent auction and cocktail reception in the Patrick F. Taylor Library; Justin Devillier (La Petite Grocery and Balise) for the dinner fare; and Ware M. Porter, Ware & Co. for the décor. The New Orleans Advocate was a top sponsor.

After a round of drinks and hors d’oeuvres in the Taylor Library, guests went through the “tunnel” to the Ogden Museum’s Stephen Goldring Hall and then continued to the tented area next door. They entered through an archway bursting with balloons. Once within, everyone ogled the lush colors of magenta, tangerine and blush with accents in a variety of reds and pinks. Additionally, there were hundreds of paper lanterns suspended from the tent’s roof, hand-dyed tablecloths, and centerpiece flowers, such as roses, in clear square vases. In response to the many compliments, the designing brass said, “We wanted a bit of whimsy.” Trumpeter and singer Jeremy Davenport provided the pre-dinner entertainment.

Additional luminaries were Ogden executive director William Pittman Andrews, the much-praised board chairwoman Kendrick with Megan and Taylor Kendrick, Roger Ogden, Bill Goldring and Julie Breeden, David Kerstein, Charlie Urstadt and David Bernard, Joel Vilmenay, Sula Kim, emcee Charles Divins, Anna Beth (Mrs. John) Goodman, Jane Scott Hodges and husband Philip, Gregory Holt and Lucy Burnett, Coleman Adler, Tiffany Adler and Jep Epstein, Mayor Mitch and Cheryl Landrieu, Rita LeBlanc, Karen and Henry Coaxum, Henry and Pat Shane, Melissa Gibbs, Meaghan and Joe Bonavita, Jonathan Ferrara, Jim Mounger, Paul Leaman Jr. and Marilyn Dittmann, Marian Wallis, Jimmy Coleman, Gary Solomon Jr. with Seth Bloom, Grover and Bitsie Mouton, and siblings Mathilde Villere Currence and Lamar Villere, whose mother, Fran, was the Opus honoree in 2016. Existing since 2013 is The Fran and George Villere Endowment Fund.

Post-program, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band kicked into musical action. Scores hit the floor and danced “O What a Night” away.

Cause for further jubilation is the more than $900,000 that was raised for the museum.

Starry Steps

“Dancing with the Stars: Around the World” headlined the gala at the New Orleans Marriott to benefit Good Shepherd School, the dream of the dynamic founder the Rev. Harry Thomson, SJ. Emceeing were Shelley Brown (Fox 8 News) and Travers Mackel (WDSU News). The program started with a welcome by GSS board Chairman Ronnie Briggs (with wife Gwen), a recognition of alums Tamera Coney and Myan Sandifer (2017 college graduates), and Archbiship Gregory Aymond’s opening prayer. Thomas Moran Jr., GSS CEO, made remarks, Komenka Ethnic Dance Ensemble performed, and the competitive dancing ensued.

Paired as dancers and their choreographers were: John and Deborah Blancher, Annie Cuccia; Meg Gatto and Roy Glapion, Eleni Korominas; Amanda Shaw and Tom Gregory, Brianna and Alex Nowlin; Hillary Gibbs Alread and Max Gruenig, Kate Rohm; Chandra Chifici and Joe Helm, Gina Iserman; Amy Winchester and Stanton McNeely, Stephani Kammer; Laurie Pierce Martin and Wayne Pierce, Janell Wattigny; Theresa Truxillo and Paul Spitzfaden, Fran Moran; Christina Mahtook and Vance Vaucresson, Laura Stein; and Kevyn and Pat Winters, Ashley Iserman and Amal Hamdan. Among those applauding them were board members Carmie and Mike Winters, event coordinator Jamie Roy from GSS, and Lindsey Wands from Title Sponsor Whitney Bank.

The Mirror Ball Champions — the dancers who brought in the most votes and money — were Alread and Gibbs, while Truxillo and Spitzfaden were hailed as the Fan Favorites. Huzzahs, all!

Revelry on the River

Inspired by the site, The Westin Canal Place, “Revelry on the River” titled the Opera Gala. Adding a fanciful fillip, the organizing Women’s Guild of the New Orleans Opera encouraged cocktail attire to suit the sub-theme, “The Roaring Twenties.” More features were the one-hour patron celebration, the gala, “flowing Champagne, spirits and heavy hors d’oeuvres,” and dancing on the open balcony to the scintillating sounds of Phil Melancon and the Jimmy Maxwell Orchestra. Entertaining, too, were the recent winners of the vocal Wood Competition, Abigail Roques and Rafael Robelo. Their talent showed why they won.

Mastheaders were gala Chairwoman Amy L. Carbonette Cioll, Women’s Guild President Penny Baumer with Al, and Vice President Karen Villavaso. Noted, too, on the invitation were the names of NOO President James C. “Jay” Gulotta and Opera general and artistic director Robert Lyall.

Suzanne Long spearheaded decorations, which included an eye-catching ice sculpture depicting the Opera Association’s 75th anniversary. Others milling were Ann Duffy and John Skinner, Jane and Bruce Miller, Kathy Christian, Marlene Duronslet, Barbara Ballard with Bill Hudson, Maryflynn Thomas, Suzanne and Byron Scott, Cherry Bordelon, Irene Klinger, Laura Franklin, Madeline Carbonette, Chad and Vanessa Berg, Christine and Price LeBlanc, and from the Association, the above Robert Lyall and Baty Landis, liaison to Association Support Groups.

The patrons numbered 27 and the gala committee 28 women, with most in attendance. Dozens donned flapper-style modes and pearl sautoirs for their rounds of riparian “Revelry.”