Singing & Dancing In the Rain Forest

Brazil provided the theme, and Washington the heat and humidity, which turned Friday's Opera Ball into a tropical fantasy -- emphasis on tropical.

Imagine 500 guests in gowns and tuxedos. Picture them dancing under a large tent with palm trees, exotic flowers, fruit drinks and fake natives. Stir in thick, soupy air and you're having a ball -- South American style.

"We Latinos know how to party," said Venezuelan-born Hilda Ochoa-Brillembourg. "This is definitely a rain forest. The heat doesn't matter. If you're going to sweat, you might as well enjoy what you're doing."

This was the first time in the ball's history that a Latin country hosted the annual fundraiser for the Washington National Opera. After intimate (and air-conditioned) dinners at embassies about town, the guests gathered at the historic 1908 mansion on Massachusetts Avenue that serves as the residence of Brazilian Ambassador Roberto Abdenur and wife Maria Izabel. An enormous tent erected behind the house proved to be the the hot spot (literally and figuratively) of the night. Philanthropist Betty Knight Scripps, chairing the glamorous $3 million ball for her sixth consecutive year, kept her cool with some serious ice -- diamonds and rubies -- around her neck. Ambassadors, by training, never break a sweat. But we noticed a few glistening brows in the crowd, including those of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Sen. Patrick Leahy, incoming Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace, candy heiress Jacqueline Badger Mars, opera board Chairman John Pohanka and opera President Michael Sonnenreich.

A few clever souls discovered champagne and Brazilian music on the second floor of the mansion. Many opera patrons fled the party early, furiously fanning their programs. But the die-hards shed their jackets and sweated up a storm on the dance floor well past midnight. "I love that everyone is so enthusiastic," said Scripps.

Lifestyles of the rich and sticky.

Horsing Around at Polo

The polo season opened Saturday with a game in Poolesville pitting Porsche against the Madison Hotel. But with sponsors like Gucci and Porsche, ladies decked out in chic sundresses and unlimited vodka-spiked lemonade, who had time to watch the game?

"Oh! You have to go get a fabulous cocktail ring!" exclaimed Dorit Sade, social secretary to the ambassador of Israel. The downtown boutique Alex served up oversize fake gems on a silver platter as models pranced around in preppy ensembles to the delight of all the fashionable fillies on hand at the polo grounds. Local jazz pianist Marcus Johnson soothed the sunburned crowd with tunes as team owner Dave Pollin and polo pro Charlie Muldoon led the Madison team to victory. Proceeds from the day, which drew nearly 100 onlookers, went to the Many Hats Institute, an organization dedicated to empowering local youth.

Roll Call at 50: Still Making Itself Heard

Roll Call is over the hill after 50 years of covering the Hill. The newspaper celebrated its golden anniversary Thursday on the top floor of 101 Constitution Ave. NW overlooking the Capitol. Nearly 200 interns, and a few grown-up politicos, including founder Sid Yudain, were greeted by waitresses in poodle skirts offering diner-themed treats like french fries and mini-burgers. "I read Roll Call every single day," said Rep. John Dingell, who celebrates his 50th anniversary serving his home state of Michigan in December. "They're beating me but not by much."

With Laura Thomas