The Festive Season Met Opera, NYC Ballet, The Phil, Saks & Studio 54

by R. Couri Hay


Bill de Blasio surprised many by appearing at the 133rd opening of the Metropolitan Opera. The mayor told the glittering crowd, “When we all have social media attention spans, the energy and the concentration that you put into the opera is more than rewarded.” The night showcased a stunning new production of Bellini’s bel canto tragedy Norma, staring the dazzling sopranos Sondra Radvanovsky and Joyce DiDonato and tenor Joseph Calleja. Anyone who loves classical music will enjoy this performance, made possible by a gift from gala chair Veronica Atkins. Supporters included Mercedes Bass, Daisy Soros, Ariana Rockefeller, and Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis. Also present were Jerry Hall, Georgina Chapman, Jamie Tisch, Nancy Chemtob, F. Murray Abraham and Valery Jour. The event raised $4.9 million. Metopera.org


Prabal Gurung, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Jill Kargman, Nicky Hilton Rothschild, Peter Martins and FIT director Valerie Steele led the parade of fashionistas to the opening of the New York CIty Ballet. Sarah Jessica Parker, who attended with her husband, Matthew Broderick, co chaired the fashion focused night, which has raised $13 million since 2012. Participating designers have included Alexander McQueen, Dries Van Noten, Carolina Herrera, Olivier Theyskens and Valentino. This  year, designer Tsumori Chisato’s witty surrealist costumes for Justin Peck’s inspired Pulcinella Variations stole the night. Parker said, “I admire these dancers for their lean, sculpted muscles and limber bodies.” The committee included Princess Maria-Olympia of Greece, Mario Testino, Amy Astley and Diane von Furstenberg. Among those sipping the divine Dom Ruinart champagne were the stars of The Americans, Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, as well as Andy Cohen, Fe Fendi,  Judith Hoffman, Youth America Grand Prix’s Larissa Saveliev, Jean Shafiroff, dancers Zachary Catazaro, Tiler Peck and Lauren Lovette, and art consultants Libbie Mugrabi and Kenny Ackerman. nycballet.com


Alec and Hilaria Baldwin walked the red carpet at the 176th opening of the New York Philharmonic. Baldwin who is both a board member and radio host of the Phil’s concerts, said, “When I go to the movies, I’m often disappointed, but when I go to the Philharmonic I’m never disappointed. We would go twice a week if we could, but it’s hard because we have two young children.” Leading the applause for Mahler’s celestial Fifth Symphony were Jenny and John Paulson, Karen and Richard LeFrak, Sharon Bush, skin care visionaries Rochelle and June Jacobs and the Phil’s chairman, Oscar Schafer. nyphil.org


The ladies who lunch for a good cause were out in full regalia for the launch of Audrey Gruss’ new perfume, Hope at Saks Fifth Avenue. Hilary Geary Ross, Sharon Loeb, Muffie Miller, Jamee Gregory, Barbara Bancroft, Candace Bushnell, Susan Gutfreund, Yaz Hernández, Serena Boardman, Lorraine Bracco, Coralie Charriol Paul, Jackie Drake, Nicole Miller, Jessica Gruss, Liz Peek and Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos sat at tables festooned with lilyof- the valley, tuberose, jasmine and gardenias—the flowers that make up the perfume’s primar notes. Gruss announced that 100 percent of the profits from the fragrance will go to the Hope for Depression Research Foundation, which she founded 11 years ago. “My mother, whose name was Hope, suffered from depression, but loved white flowers and the sense of joy they brought her,” Gruss told the crowd. “This glorious fragrance stands on its own, but the charitable message empowers you to give back with a product that keeps on giving.” hopefordepression.org.


Cornelia Guest, Patrick McMullan and other denizens of disco’s glamorous nights of yore hosted a book party for Mark Fleischman’s Inside Studio 54. It was a mix of old and new that saw Village People cowboy Randy Jones jump on a banquette and sing “YMCA” as Mariah Kennedy Cuomo struck a pose and millennial beauties Meredith  and Whitney Schott ruled the dance floor, while Carolina Herrera’s husband, Reinaldo, gossiped with George Wayne. The explosive exposé by Fleischman—who bought the club from Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell after they were sent to the big house for hiding garbage bags full of cash in the club’s ceiling— gives the inside dope on Andy Warhol, Liza Minnelli, Robert De Niro, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Roy Cohn, Robin Williams, John Belushi and all the other VIPs from that decadent era. “Drugs and celebrities were what made Studio 54 fabulous,” Fleischman recalled. He ran the club until 1986, eventually adopting a healthy lifestyle he learned at Rancho La Puerta Spa in Tecate, Mexico. The book is a wistful look back that will strike a chord with the revelers who remember partying under the moon with a spoon—and with everyone who wishes they had. rarebirdbooks.com


Bill and Melinda Gates’ daughter Jennifer glided over the jumps to win $25,000 at the Rolex Central Park Horse Show at Wollman Rink. Kent Farrington, the number one show jumper in the world, took home the $216,000 Grand Prix purse and donated a substantial part of it to Direct Relief, which helps families impacted by natural disasters. Farrington said, “I’m a resident of Florida. I was lucky to dodge a bullet but a lot of people weren’t as fortunate. I wanted to do something for them.” The glamorous event, which has attracted everyone from Bruce Springsteen to model Ashley Moore, was founded by Mark Bellissimo four years ago and features some of the world’s best dressage riders and show jumpers. Among those applauding the riders were Martha Stewart and Michael Bloomberg. cphs.coth.com


Dianne Bernhard hosted a book party for Race To Judgment, Frederic Block’s novel, at the 21 Club. The tome fictionalizes mob related cases the judge has overseen during his 23 years on the bench. fredericblock.com