San Francisco Social Diary: 94th Annual San Francisco Opera Gala

For its 94th season, San Francisco Opera’s annual gala featured a French theme to match its opening show Andrea Chénier, including lighting up City Hall like the French flag.

For its 94th season, San Francisco Opera’s annual gala featured a French theme to match its opening show Andrea Chénier, including lighting up City Hall like the French flag.

SAN FRANCISCO OPERA’S 94TH SEASON: GALA EVENING CELEBRATED “LA REVOLUTION ET L’AMOUR”

The San Francisco event you absolutely don’t want to miss is the annual Opera opening night gala in September, a thrilling kickoff for the philanthropic, social, and cultural season. I’ve seen many grand events in cities around the world — and none outclass this one.

In 2016, as always, opera aficionados packed the house, and the audience — bejeweled, begowned, and betuxed (if there isn’t such a word, there should be) — put on a show that for style and beauty was equal to the fabulous performance we saw onstage.

The season began with Italian composer Umberto Giordano’s Andrea Chénier. Musical Director Nicola Luisotti and Director David McVicar led an international roster of performers in the story of a tragic love triangle based loosely on events of the French Revolution.

The beaux arts San Francisco City Hall was built in 1915, with fellow beaux arts masterpiece the Opera House built across the street only 17 years later.

The beaux arts San Francisco City Hall was built in 1915, with fellow beaux arts masterpiece the Opera House built across the street only 17 years later.

The stunning work by set designer Robert Jones and costumer Jenny Tiramani gave the performance a sense of grandeur and luxury reflective of pre-revolution France.

The stunning work by set designer Robert Jones and costumer Jenny Tiramani gave the performance a sense of grandeur and luxury reflective of pre-revolution France.

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San Francisco Social Diary: The First Lady of Napa

The Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville, Napa Valley. The late vintners and philanthropists Margrit and Robert Mondavi were instrumental in transforming Napa Valley into a wine, food, and culture mecca.

The Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville, Napa Valley. The late vintners and philanthropists Margrit and Robert Mondavi were instrumental in transforming Napa Valley into a wine, food, and culture mecca.

NAPA VALLEY – “SALUTE, SANTE, CHEERS, MARGRIT! Tonight we raise our glass to you!” read the invitation from Festival Napa Valley, for a tribute to Margrit Biever Mondavi this past July.

The 91-year-old widow of vintner Robert Mondavi, who is credited with putting California wines on the world map, Margrit was honored for her more than four decades of dedicated work to help fine art, music, food, and wine flourish in the California wine country.

I flew in for the occasion to be with my dear friend, knowing she had been ill and fearing this Festival might be her last. Indeed, just weeks later, on September 2, Margrit’s remarkable life came to an end.

Though each of the ten evening events at Festival 2016 was extraordinary, the one honoring Margrit at the Far Niente Winery was to me the most extraordinary of all.

Margrit Mondavi, one of Napa’s most revered and influential figures, showcased fine food and wine, and encouraged and supported great vintners, chefs, artists, and musicians.

Margrit Mondavi, one of Napa’s most revered and influential figures, showcased fine food and wine, and encouraged and supported great vintners, chefs, artists, and musicians.

Robert and Margrit Mondavi celebrated his 90th birthday in June 2003, five years before he passed away. During their 28-year marriage, they traveled the world to promote California wines.

Robert and Margrit Mondavi celebrated his 90th birthday in June 2003, five years before he passed away. During their 28-year marriage, they traveled the world to promote California wines.

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Shanghai Social Diary in New York: China Institute Celebrates 90th Year Gala

China Institute 90th Anniversary Gala Co-Chair Yue-Sai Kan with Peking Opera actors, who performed in New York City.

China Institute 90th Anniversary Gala Co-Chair Yue-Sai Kan with Peking Opera actors, who performed in New York City.

CHINA INSTITUTE CELEBRATES 90th YEAR GALA
by Jeanne Lawrence

China Institute celebrated its 90th anniversary in New York City with a glittering gala that included a surprise performance by a troupe of Peking Opera performers. Three people were honored for their contribution to increasing understanding and cooperation between the U.S and China: Bob Chapek, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman; Richard Gelfond, IMAX Corporation CEO; and fashion designer Guo Pei.

I was elated at the inclusion of Guo Pei, whom I predicted would become one of the biggest international names in haute couture when I first saw her work.

China Institute President James Heimowitz, Gala Co-Chair Sophia Sheng, Haute Couture Designer Beatrice Pei, and China Institute Board Chair Chien Chung “Didi” Pei.

China Institute President James Heimowitz, Gala Co-Chair Sophia Sheng, Haute Couture Designer Beatrice Pei, and China Institute Board Chair Chien Chung “Didi” Pei.

Guan Wang, the evening’s emcee and chief political correspondent for CCTV America’s Mandarin service, with TV presenter and writer Chiu-Ti Jansen.

Guan Wang, the evening’s emcee and chief political correspondent for CCTV America’s Mandarin service, with TV presenter and writer Chiu-Ti Jansen.

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San Francisco Social Diary: An Art Bash at Stonescape in Napa Valley

Norah and Norman Stone’s art-filled Napa Valley country estate, “Stonescape,” features artist James Turrell’s Stone Sky, which comprises an infinity pool, pavilion, and one of his signature “Skyspaces.”

Norah and Norman Stone’s art-filled Napa Valley country estate, “Stonescape,” features artist James Turrell’s Stone Sky, which comprises an infinity pool, pavilion, and one of his signature “Skyspaces.”

AN ART BASH AT STONESCAPE IN NAPA VALLEY

One of the most creative and buzz-worthy events of the Bay Area summer “high season” is the biennial fete hosted by art collectors and philanthropists Norah and Norman Stone.

The party takes place at Stonescape, their country estate and retreat at the far northern end of the Napa Valley, near the Calistoga hot springs resort founded in the 1860s.

Every few years, the Stones curate a new show from their internationally acclaimed collection of modern and contemporary works and exhibit it in a unique gallery—an “art cave” excavated into the hillside of their Calistoga estate.

Left: Norah and Norman Stone host a biennial summer art bash — which this year coincided with their 30th anniversary celebration — at their Calistoga country estate.Right: The private show, entitled “Convergence,” was exhibited in the Stonescape art cave, labelled a “must-see art museum opened by collectors” by gallerist Jeffrey Deitch.

Left: Norah and Norman Stone host a biennial summer art bash — which this year coincided with their 30th anniversary celebration — at their Calistoga country estate.
Right: The private show, entitled “Convergence,” was exhibited in the Stonescape art cave, labelled a “must-see art museum opened by collectors” by gallerist Jeffrey Deitch.

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San Francisco Social Diary: 2016 Festival Napa Valley, Part II

The 2016 Festival Napa Valley is coming up in July, celebrating music, performance, food, and wine, at stunning venues.

2016 FESTIVAL NAPA VALLEY: THE ELEVENTH SEASON
PART 2

Festival Napa Valley, one of America’s premiere summer destination events, will offer a dazzling roster of cultural and culinary attractions from July 15-24, 2016, its eleventh year. Eminent classical, opera, jazz, and dance artists will perform, and intimate food and wine affairs will be hosted by the region’s top vintners.

Over the years, the Festival has introduced me, along with other visitors, to many artists, local vintners, and wineries that aren’t on the tourist route maps, which has given me an insider’s view of the California wine country lifestyle. If you want to share this experience, have a terrific time, and meet the locals, this is the way to go. Put it on your calendar for this year (and next, as well!).

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