Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
In the drawing room of the French Embassy Monday night, the teases and toasts abounded. Todd Duncan, Washingnton's own world-famous musician and the man of the hour, embraced Luna Diamond, complimenting her dress and hairdo.
"That's because I looked different the evening a month ago when I gave a party for Shirley Verrett," Diamond explained. Turning to Vi-Curtis Hinton, Duncan began to tell everyone about her "limousine," which she quickly explained was a 1976 dark green Cadillac.
Clarifications aside, both women were blushing at the sassiness of their 74-year-old friend. Monday night the Washington Performing Arts Society (WPAS), precisely, the women's committee, formally announced its tribute next month in honor of Duncan's 75th birthday.
Duncan was not only the first "Porgy" of George Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess," followed by years by international success and prominence as one of the principal voice teachers in this area - but he was also the first president of the Performing Arts Society.
With most of the 100 guests standing in a semi-circle, Patrick Hayes, WPAS founder, proposed the first of many toasts to the French ambassador, Francois de Laboulaye. Then glasses of burgundy were raised for Duncan, who spoke of his "pain" at learning French but said it turned into a love affair, and "helped give something to an ordinary guy like me."
Everyone including Roger Stevens, chairman of the board of the Kennedy Carter; Foster Shannon, past president of the Washington Board of Trade; securities analust Kenneth Crosby, chairman of the board of WPAS, disagreed with that self-description.
As the committee annouced another Duncan-related party for next week, his wife, Gladys Duncan, who has been a civic leader here, commented, "I'm really enjoying this. Like Todd keeps saying, you are only 75 once."