Something To Sing About
The mood going into Saturday's 46th annual Opera Ball was somber: The sad news that Ronald Reagan had just died, crowd favorite Smarty Jones missed the Triple Crown by a nose, and the rainy day was wet and miserable.
But in her fifth year as ball chairman, Betty Knight Scripps once again staged a gorgeous party that banished the blues and ended with a spirited, late-night singalong led by tenor (and Supreme Court justice) Antonin Scalia.
After private black-tie dinners at 23 embassies, 500 guests arrived at the British ambassador's residence to discover a midsummer's night dream: 12,000 roses, a garden pavilion tent with twinkling night stars and painted dance floor, and all manner of queenly English desserts, cheeses and premium ports. The speeches were short and sweet: British Ambassador Sir David Manning paid tribute to Reagan and the soldiers of D-Day; Scripps called the opera "the jewel in the cultural crown of the capital." The evening raised a record $3 million for the Washington National Opera, including $1 million from Scripps's foundation. "Betty, there's no term limit on being ball chairman," hinted opera board chairman Bill Miller. Needless to say, she'll be back next year (but without soon-to-be-ex-husband Jeremy Harvey, for those who keep track of such things).
Anyway, the party lasted into the wee hours. The mood was so relaxed that guests gathered around the piano well after midnight to sing show tunes. Company tenors got the ball rolling; pretty soon Scalia was belting out a very respectable version of "Some Enchanted Evening." And, in fact, it was.
Songs in the Key of Goodbye
Girlfriend power was front and center at Friday's farewell for Spanish Ambassador Javier Ruperez and his wife, Rakela. The change in Spain's government means the couple are headed to New York, where Ruperez will head a counterterrorism task force at the United Nations.
The first of many goodbye parties was hosted Friday night at the McLean residence of Jordanian Ambassador Karim Kawar and his wife, Luma. "It's one farewell I don't want to have," she said. "It's very emotional for me."
The two women became close friends over the past two years. "Luma and I were born on the same day, July 20," Rakela said in a toast to her friend. "We tend to think alike. I think it's really a blessing when two couples get along so well. The only regret I have is that you didn't get to Washington sooner."
Before things got too mushy, the dinner guests moved to the rec room for dancing and karaoke. The bad news: No one could really sing. The good news: Everyone sang anyway. The best news: New York is only three hours away.
When too Many Cooks Are Just Right
At first glance, the invitation from Share Our Strength, the international anti-hunger organization, to a lavish five-course dinner prepared by top chefs seemed counterintuitive, at best. "I like to eat," co-chair David Bradt said candidly. "That's one of the reasons to come here, but also because of what SOS does."
Galileo's Roberto Donna, Equinox's Todd Gray, Citronelle's Michel Richard and Ristorante Tosca's Cesare Lenfranconi served up delectable treats at Hotel Monaco Wednesday night -- and donated the food and labor for the 20th annual fundraiser, which brought in a record $170,000. "This kind of event benefits everyone," said Ortanique's Scott Houghton. "It's a great opportunity for us to meet other people in our industry and network, but also for us to share our talents to help the cause of hunger."
We'll eat to that.
With Laura Thomas