It is Carnival … at least for the next week. But before the balls and queens’ suppers really got under way, there were parties requiring serious jewelry, designer duds and very pretty pumps.
The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra celebrated its 20th anniversary with a gala at the Ritz-Carlton. Seen sipping champagne and hobnobbing with orchestra members were Maestro Carlos Miguel Prieto, Mistress of Ceremonies Angela Hill (no slouch when it comes to baubles), Tom and Gayle Benson, the Frank Purvises, Anne and King Milling, Pam and Ralph Lupin … it was a sea of diamonds, emeralds and pearls. Evergreen’s Matilda Stream talked plantations with Houmas House’s Kevin Kelly, who may have big news coming down the Mississippi. Board member Bonnie Boyd introduced herself to the legendary Chris Owens (rumored to have bought four tables, proving she has diverse musical tastes). Also in attendance was musician and artist Patti Adams, who performs with the orchestra and designed the sets for The Magic Flute as well as this year’s Opera Ball invitations. While several were honored, a delightful ovation was delivered to Jackie Clarkson. She celebrated her 75th birthday with LPO supporters – the orchestra played and the room sang “Happy Birthday.”
The New Orleans Opera presented Bizet’s rarely seen The Pearl Fishers with a brilliant cast (the principals have all sung at The Met, my dears). The ladies took their cues and pulled out their gumball-sized South Sea pearls. Louise Martin looked particularly pretty and not just because husband Ted is the opera’s president. Betty Davidson, Carolyn Wogan, Barbara Waller, Marjorie Gehl, Ann Anderson, Julia Newsham and others donned theater suits. Gladys LeBreton, her tickets a Christmas gift from her grandchildren, attended with daughter-in-law Rosey. Keene and Christel Kelly used the performance to introduce their son to opera. Mrs. James Noe who, with her husband, has been a generous and devoted friend of the opera, was presented with a bouquet of roses pre-performance along with a standing ovation from the audience.
The next night a black-tie salute to New Orleans Museum of Art’s Director Emeritus John Bullard sent the ladies back to their safes to pull out more dazzling bijoux. The event was organized by new director Susan M. Taylor as well as many others, including Sandra Draughn Freeman, Prescott and Sarah Dunbar, David Edwards, the Landrieus (Moon, mayor when Bullard began his tenure, and Mitch, who closes the cycle), with their wives as well as Beverly Muller, Joel Weinstock and others near and dear. Clearly Bullard has made a more than a few friends during his 37-year tenure, as the city’s brightest lights filled the museum and greeted almost all at the front door.
Betty Moran filled Bullard’s table, where partner Bob Cousins held forth with white orchids. Nina Dhurandhar, recently returned from a wedding in Mumbai, wore a stunning sari. Then there was Susan Brennan in red; Rosemonde Capomazza di Campolattaro in magenta; Judy Oudt in white lace; Anita Georges in azalea silk; and Dana Hansel with a new “do.” Saks Fifth Avenue’s Cristina Wysocki, Barbara Amedee and artist husband Wayne, artists George Dureau and George Rodrigue with wife Wendy, photographer Tina Freeman and husband Philip Woollam swapping “John” stories with curator Bill Fagaly, architect Lee Ledbetter, mother and daughter combo Mimi and Alexandra Stafford were also in attendance. Ralph Brennan’s team keeps the likes of Mimi and Claude Schlesinger, Sylvia and John Laborde, Rene Fransen, Ed Bonin and Robert Young happy with baby lamb chops, thinly sliced tuna and more. To say John Bullard has fans is an understatement – in a bit of frivolity, NOMA’s staff passed out several hundred fans with Bullard’s likeness on them. At times it was a sea of Bullards in the room.