Summer Lyric Theater’s artistic director Michael Howard serenades guests at the “Candide” opening night party.

A sleepover at Chrétien Point Plantation for Charlotte Clark (second from the left) included Nicole Milburn, Lilly Aguillard, Helene Paxton, Catherine Mills, Lauren Redfearn and William Clark.

Michael Allday, NOFF executive director Lindsay Ross and John Desplas at the French Film Festival dinner at Herbsaint.

The Prytania Theatre—site of the French Film Festival’s wine tasting and screenings.

Hurricanes, fireworks, festivals with banners and flags flying, patriotism showing, music mellow or hip, celebrations galore … Nothing, not the heat, humidity—or slight insanity it brings—seems to faze anyone here. New Orleanians work, party, play and just keep rollin’ along.

All Ears
The Swamp, as I like to call this place, was alive with the sounds of music all June and July. The Summer Lyric Theater at Tulane University’s salute to Leonard Bernstein started with a sensational production of “Candide.” Master classes with the likes of singer Barbara Cook, Charles Bornstein, Craig Urquhart and others oh-so-talented were to follow, but were rescheduled due to tropical storms and hurricanes. The theater also produced “West Side Story” then “Wonderful Town,” which New York certainly is. So much Lenny, so little time.
George and Sharron Massey welcomed cast, crew and folks dear to Summer Lyric and Tulane’s Music Department to their Prytania Street manse—a first—for the opening night party for “Candide.” Artistic director Michael Howard sat down at Sharron’s piano and the cast gathered ‘round to sing and have fun after wine and mounds of pâté and cheese.
Days later, Julia Newsham welcomed AMICI members to the home of Dr. Quinn Peeper, where the group celebrated the triumph of Lisette Orosesa, a soprano from Louisiana, who won the Metropolitan Opera Auditions finals in NYC. Quinn, who has joined the Lazarus Group of OB/GYN, dashed in late wearing surgical scrubs and changed just in time to hear singer Bryan Hymel, another Met finalist, finish his pre-luncheon arias. Bryan also performed at Temple Sinai in late July. If you missed it, email him athymelrecital@gmail.com and you’ll get notice of his next performance.

Birthday Wishes
There was a rockin’ good time had by many at Lisa Kelly’s party for husband, real-estate investor, Jim, at Lucy’s. It was his 40th and the place was livelier than usual, if you can believe it.
Several parents had attorney W. Scarth Clark and wife Mollee to thank for a super bit of baby sitting. The Clarks hosted a super sleepover, taking over Chrétien Point Plantation, once home to Scarth’s ancestors, for the birthday celebration of 9-year-old daughter Charlotte. There was swimming, a chocolate fountain, a play performed by the girls—complete with period pinafores made by Charlotte’s grandmother Sue—and a terrifying moment when the lights went out! Who needs ghost stories when thunder and lightening do the trick? Among those at the plantation (now a bed and breakfast) with the birthday girl and little brother William S., were Sacred Heart’s Lilly Aguillard, Nicole Milburn, Catherine Mills, Helene Paxton and Lauren Redfearn.
An asset for Saks Fifth Avenue and one of the cities most charming lights, Cristina Wysocki, celebrated a mid-summer birthday with a splendid party hosted by pal and designer John Chrestia, who filled his home with bowers of white flowers and glorious food for the occasion. Friends and family came from as far away as El Salvador to salute the country’s best export!
A bit quieter, but just as meaningful, was the small gathering of family and a few friends of Lucille Gray, who marked a spry 102 in mid-July. The pretty little cocktail party was hosted by son and daughter-in-law Matt and Blanche Gray in the house Lucille has called home for decades. Cheers!
It was “Garden Party Attire, Hats and Gloves” at the English Speaking Union’s annual jazz brunch celebration of the Queen’s Birthday Party at the New Orleans Country Club. Some 90 people turned up well turned out in festive hats galore. Brenda would have approved.
It’s been a summer of red, white and blue: the Union Jack party just mentioned, though the flag was at half-mast in July for the sad events in London; the Stars and Stripes standing up locally to (as of press date!) one tropical storm and a brush of a hurricane; and the French flag out for Bastille Day. One of the reasons everyone here loves the French—besides the food and wine—is their ability to make merry in July in the most amusing ways. The Alliance Francaise hosted a cabaret in the Casino in City Park that would have made Toulouse-Lautrec want to come. Francophiles were there to parler francais, not to mention the singing and dancing. (Don’t ask who can can-can!) Tastes of heaven from René and Le Citron bistrots, Maurice French Pastries, Louis XVI, Café Degas, La Côté Brasserie, La Louisiane and others.
The New Orleans Film Festival along with the Consulate General de France hosted a French Film Fest, July 8 to 10 at the Prytania Theatre. The festivities kicked off with a Provencal wine dinner (that was a benefit for NOFF) at Herbsaint restaurant on July 7 that featured French delicacies paired with French wines. Ooh, la, la!

The White Glove Treatment
One of the first parties of the “unofficial season” was the Bachelors Club cocktail party at the New Orleans Country Club for this year’s debs. The group’s president Jean Paul LeGarde and vice president Claiborne Perrilliat, sent invites to Julia Coutin, Elizabeth Dietz, Julie Guider, Dominique Haydel, Jane Hardy, Christine Kerber, Virginia Jensen, Avrill LaCour, Kelly Leary, Eily McMillan, Hartley Meric, Michelle Newlin, Abbie Robinson, Ashley Ruckert, Margaret Schully, Anne Louise Sewell, Kathleen Settoon, Sudie Sutter, Bebe Terrell, CeeCee Toso, Ashley Tufts, Hilah Verlander, Katie White, Cammie Watts and Ashley Wood … I think I got them all! Now you all can start playing the Carnival royalty game.
Finally, kudos to designer Gerrie Bremermann, who had one of her projects on the cover of House Beautiful in July; Architectural Digest’s July issue showcased a home in N.O. with René Fransen’s landscape design and architect Errol Barron’s work; and Tara Shaw made the cover of the May-June Veranda with her home design for Emeril and Alden Lagasse; and Earl Barthé for receiving the National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellowship for decorative building craftsman.
Debs, “White Linen Night” and all sorts of stuff at the 3 Ring Circus on Clio Street … August is here. •