Standing Tall!

White Sails in the Sunset

The celebration reached a special — and sweet moment — when a cake was cut: In one small area, raison d’etre and revelry blended. Confected in the shape of a ship by Sucre chef Tariq Hanna, the cake was modeled after the logo of the visiting tall ships with main sails in blue, white and red (or bleu, blanc and rouge). Champagne in a toasting moment sponsored by Hancock Whitney Bank; a “Happy Birthday, New Orleans” performance by the Victory Belles; an impressive fireworks display; and the opportunity to visit the four tall ships docked near Woldenberg Park on the banks of the Mississippi River thrilled revelers.

The visit of the ships, which set anchor to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Crescent City and were considered “cutting-edge vessels for traveling the world” in the 19th century, was a gift to the city and its residents and visitors. Deck tours at certain times were free and open to the public, student groups visited, and on a Saturday evening during Tall Ships New Orleans 2018 and NOLA Navy Week, the ticketed Tall Ships Tricentennial gala unfolded. During the patron party, the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts Jazz Ensemble entertained the crowds, who mingled on board the 1877 Tall Ship “Elissa” as they nibbled on passed small bites. (The preceding night, guests of The New Orleans Advocate gathered for an “Evening Aboard The Historic ‘Elissa.’ ”)

During the official Tricentennial tout, the main event, hors d‘oeuvres were served throughout the space and on board the ships; along the perimeter of the venue, restaurant partners enticed with specialty dishes in chafing dishes; and, as spirited drinks, Sailor Jerry Rum and Hudson Bourbon were a hit. High top tables throughout the area with blue tablecloths and gold and white overlays, long tables bedecked with assorted white floral arrangements, and gifts of etched glasses with the Tall Ships added to the ambiance and attractions.

Headlining the Ship set were James M. “Jim” Huger, president of the Tall Ships Host Committee, and wife Stephanie; committee Secretary John Werner with Kate; committee Vice President Gary Lorio with Carolyn; and host committee members Ned and Sarah DeJarnette, Lee Finkelstein with Andrea, Angele Romig with Greg, Charles “Chuck” Lapeyre with Amy, Oscar Gwin, John Charpentier, and Hartley Crunk with Blair. And, Tall Ships volunteers head Billy Marchal with Bebe, Alex Beard for a painting presentation, Poco and Liz Sloss, Hyma Moore, Capt. Michael and Britton Miller, Jay and Sally Lapeyre, Jacquee Carvin, Judith Oudt, Ben and Sweet Dupuy, Claude and Laurie Williams, Danny and Mary Clare Conwill, and Betsie Gambel, who had just sailed on the Dutch schooner, “Oosterschelde.”

The evening featured music from the Storyville Stompers brass band, as well as Louisiana Spice. Landlubbers could dance the night away, but for that evening, everyone become a sailor at heart.

Clothes Encounters of the Community Kind

At the recent Prix d’Elegance awards luncheon, which was presented by the Men and Women of Fashion and directed proceeds to the New Orleans Ballet Association and the Ballet Resource and Volunteer Organization, the Grand Ballroom of the New Orleans Hilton Riverside was the location. At least 700 attendees sat and socialized.

New Orleans Silversmiths was the top sponsor, in the Haute Couture category, while the next one, En Vogue, listed the names of Marilyn V. Dittmann and Carol V. Hall (the luncheon chairwomen sisters, who were joined by Paul Leaman and John Hall), Marian Gibbs (with Larry), Michael C. Hollis, Leo Palazzo, Henry and Pat Shane, and the Patrick Taylor Foundation. Leon L. “Lee” Giorgio and Deborah Alciatore-Empey are the respective presidents of the Men and the Women of Fashion boards. Further luminaries were emcees Angela Hill (an awardee in 1982, the first year women were so honored) and Richard Buchsbaum; ballet association executive director Jenny Hamilton; and representatives from Chatta Box and Jeff’s Haberdashery, which put on the Spring 2018 Collections fashion show. To music by Claude Debussy, students from New Orleans Recreation Department/New Orleans Ballet Association Center for Dance performed.

More features were the tasty lunch of spring greens salad, Barolo braised short ribs of beef, and chef Lupita’s classic doberge; the Rubensteins and Lee Michaels raffles — Helen Flammer won the former raffle; the Dunn and Sonnier centerpieces; and the live bidding with Cheryl and Brett Bauman as auctioneers. Guests were astounded at the price reaped for the “Elegant Dinner for 12” at the Martine Chaisson Gallery with catering by Kenny LaCour and The Dakota Restaurant that went for almost three times its valued price of $5,900; and the Ballet Art Caftan that was valued at $1,500 and sold for $2,500. Among those applauding the auction action were Women of Fashion board Chairwoman Teresa Guzzetta, Men of Fashion board Chairman R.K. Hoddinott III, ballet assocation board Chairman John Duck, Ballet Resource and Volunteer Organization President Sandra Chaisson, Kenny and Lesley Rubenstein, Jay and Bonnie Aronson, Jacquee Carvin (still getting compliments on daughter Jessica’s nuptials with Joseph Luchenta), Charlotte Bollinger, Lena Torres, Toni and Devon Becnel, and Martine and Juan Linares.

Each year, the “Prix” highlight is the presentation of the Best Dressed 20. In the men’s category, the runway was coursed by Jerry Bologna, Ryan E. Burks, Judge Kevin Centanni, Tom Drummond, Matthew S. Emory, Michael C. Hollis, J. Bart Kelly III, Leo Palazzo, Dr. Byron C. Scott and Stephen Sonnier. The honored women were Debbie Buchler, Renee Carrere, Sharon Lo Drucker, Nicole L. Ferrier, Melissa Gibbs, Lana W. Konrad, Joyce W. Laporte, Kathy Pastorek, Charlotte Reiss and Pamela M. Williams. Mary Katherine Lonatro-Tusa and Henry Shane were the Hall of Fame Award recipients. Applause, applause!

Opera at 75

“Celebrating Our History — Looking to Our Future” bannered the gala event that closed the 2017-18 season of the New Orleans Opera Association and paid homage to “75 Years of Opera” of the New Orleans Opera. Flanked by socializing, the celebration at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts took the form of a concert with favorite opera arias and a few Broadway hits.

Robert Lyall, the opera's general and artistic director, conducted the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, and Raymond Aceto, Luretta Bybee, Casey Candebat, Leslie Castay, Cherita Covington, Ivan Griffin, Paul Groves, Kathleen Halm, Daveda Karanas, Angela Mannino, Sarah Jane McMahon, Lucas Meachem, Chauncey Packer, New Orleans Black Chorale, New Orleans Opera Chorus and Xavier University Chorus sang. Throughout the two acts, the stage was filled with vocal power.

Prior to the concert, which was punctuated with a tribute to Lyall for his two-decade anniversary with the company, and the emceeing of Norman Robinson, Soiree patrons mingled on the Norman Treigle Plaza in front of the theater. The Country Club purveyed. Post-concert, members of the Mastersigners gathered on the stage for a “meet and greet” with a number of the stars. All enjoyed the catering of Another Broken Egg.

Noted were opera assocation board President James “Jay” Gulotta Jr. and spouse Susan G. Talley, immediate past President R. Ranney Mize with Emel, Vice President Larry Pugh with Nina, Treasurer Emmet Geary Jr., Secretary Mark G. Otts, development officer Dwayne O. Littauer, Ted and Louise Martin, James Robert Pope, Haydee and Dr. Nicolas Bazan (with colleagues from Rome, Gerry Melino and Sonia Melino, both Ph.D.), Drs. Jasmine Ellison and Hernan Bazan, Meredith and Rawley Penick, Drs. Terry and Rand Voorhies, Debby Hirsch Wood, Henry Bernstein, Scott and Lorraine Chotin, Betty Brooks, Adrea Heebe, Janet and Scott Howard, then-Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey, and the Opera’s executive director Timothy Todd Simmons with his wife, soprano Kathleen Halm Simmons. Plus, a slew of proud families of the performers. For everyone, the Opera’s diamond anniversary sparkled.