San Francisco Social Diary: Festival del Sole – Napa Valley Part III

In 2013, the annual Festival del Sole once again drew artists and audiences to the Napa Valley with unique venues and a tradition of vintner hospitality.


The annual ten-day Festival del Sole celebrates the fine arts in life, including music, dance, visual art, culinary arts, and wine making, with spectacular events held throughout the Napa Valley.

Part I and Part II of my coverage describe some of the food, music, and wine events. The story continues:


Credit Shahpar and Darioush Khaledi and Tatiana and Gerret Copeland with the clever idea of highlighting the culture of two great dynasties, Persia and Russia, to create one of the most exotic of the Festival’s parties.

The lavish experience took place against the stunning architectural backdrop of the Darioush Winery. Its founder, Darioush Khaledi, was raised in the Shiraz region of Iran, and the building evokes the ancient city of Persepolis, the ceremonial capital of Iran (formerly Persia) from 550–330 BCE.

The entrance of the Darioush Winery, built of Persian straw travertine stone, is flanked by 18-foot columns topped with depictions of bulls.

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San Francisco Social Diary: More Spring Events

A fairytale gala kicked off choreographer Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella ballet, which opened to rave reviews in San Francisco and next heads to New York’s Lincoln Center.


The San Francisco Ballet closed its 2013 season with a gala event for the U.S. premiere of British choreographer Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella.

A collaboration between the San Francisco Ballet and the Dutch National Ballet, the performance was based on the classic folktale with a score by Sergei Prokofiev. It included huge puppets, sets that incorporated video, and costumes by Julian Crouch, whose credits include operas and the Broadway musical The Addams Family.

Wheeldon, who joined the prestigious New York City Ballet corps at 19, began choreographing for the company at 23. He’s won several awards for his work for them and other eminent companies. In 2007, he and dancer Lourdes Lopez co-founded the NYC and London-based ballet company Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company.

Amy Burnett, Stephanie Ejabat, dinner chair Shelby Gans, Suzy Kellems Dominik, Kelli Burrill, Sandy Katzman, Karen Sonneborn, and Elizabeth Fullerton.

Gala co-chair Stephanie Ejabat, designer Riccardo Benavides, and co-chair Suzy Kellems Dominik.

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Shanghai Social Diary: Shanghai Comes to New York

This scene, in a Zhujiajiao garden, is from Chinese composer Tan Dun’s version of the opera The Peony Pavilion. It was recently brought to New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.


I had just returned to New York City from a fall in Shanghai when I was mentally transported back. I was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Avenue, watching The Peony Pavilion, a 16th century Kunqu opera masterpiece.

The opera was performed in conjunction with the Met’s special exhibition, Chinese Gardens: Pavilions, Studios, Retreats, on display through January 6, 2013.

I first learned about this New York production from Shirley Young, Chair of the US-China Cultural Institute (USCCI), which co-produced the Met performance. Shirley and I were part of a group that attended composer Tan Dun’s staging of The Peony Pavilion in a garden in the ancient water town Zhujiajiao, about an hour’s drive from Shanghai.

The Peony Pavilion being performed in the water town of Zhujiajiao.

The performance in Zhujiajiao took place in an ancient Chinese garden.

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