Opera Lafayette’s New York Gala

Yvonna Russell
4 min readMay 12, 2023

Opera Lafayette’s 2nd Annual New York Baroque Music Festival treated to two gorgeous world premiere performances the newly restored opéra-ballet: Rameau’s ‘Io’ and Pierre de la Garde’s long lost ‘Léandre et Héro’. Brava to impresario Artistic Director Ryan Brown for one of the most creative and artistic French Baroque opera festivals. The opening night presented two marvelous fully staged one acts on the triumph of love.

Opera Lafayette Photo Sierra Prasada

‘Léandre et Héro’ tells the story of two lovers, spurned by their parents but encouraged by the gods indulge their love, endure their separation and a storm and are reunited in immortality by Neptune.

Opera Lafayette Photo Sierra Prasada

The opéra-ballet ‘Io’ a magical farce continues the story with the duo of gods Apollon and Jupiter disguised as shepherd scheming to seduce the nymph Io. You must see the eye popping show with Machine Dazzle’s gorgeous costume design to learn the ending.

Opera Lafayette Photo Sierra Prasada

The artful performances and evening, Opera Lafayette’s New York Opening Night was chaired by Barbara Tober on Tuesday May 9, 2023 at El Museo del Barrio in Manhattan.

Opera Lafayette Photo Sierra Prasada

The celebration continued at cocktails at the Rotunda as the black tie crowd went across the street to the Museum of the City of New York. Opera Lafayette co-chairs Nizam Kettaneh and Dorsey Dunn, and Artistic Director Ryan Brown welcomed guests. Madame de Pompadour would approve of the guest list a mix of European royals, New York and Washington society, opera singers, creatives and a few hoi polloi.

Layla Diba, Gigi Fisdell, Meriel Lari and Ann Van Ness Photo Patrick McMullan
Sana Sabbagh, Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia, Barbara de Portago, Layla Diba Photo Patrick McMullan

The opera lovers whom attended H.R.H. Princess Chantal de France and The Baron François-Xavier de Sambucy de Sorgue, as well as Afsaneh Akhtari, Suzi Cordish, Layla Diba, Cornelius Escaravage, Christopher “Kip” Forbes, Michele Gerber Klein, Susan Gutfreund, Maria Eugenia Maury and Bill Haseltine, Joan Hardy Clark, Margaret and Gregory Hedberg, Sylvia Hemingway, Helen Little, Andrew Martin-Weber, Ann Van Ness, Barbara de Portago, Sana Sabbagh, Daisy Soros, and Prince Dmitri of Yugoslavia.

Margaret Hedberg, Kip Forbes and Princess Chantel D’Orleans Photo Patrick McMullan

Creatives from the opera company also attended the formal dinner Emmanuelle De Nigri, Douglas Williams, Machine Dazzle,Adam Thompson, Nick Olcott, Justin Jonathan Taylor and Avi Stein.

Barbara Tober and Machine Dazzle Photo Patrick McMullan

Lincoln Center CEO & President Henry Timms was honored before dinner. Resplendent in a butterfly Oscar de la Renta evening gown the charming host Barbara Tober presented him with the Opera Lafayette Leadership in the Arts Award.

Luciana De Oliveira Hall and Henry Timms Photo Patrick McMullan

The gala dinner served in the Marble Court at the Museum of the City of New York of white asparagus salad with pistachio encrusted goat cheese in orange honey vinaigrette, classic Coq au Vin with sides of artisan bread. The repasse was complimented by a wine selection of Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon from Decoy and Livio Felluga Pinot Grigio.

Ann Van Ness, Meriel Lari and Gigi Fisdell Photo Patrick McMullan

The musical interlude was a performance by mezzo-soprano Sarah Mesko accompanied by Justin Taylor on harpsichord. Dessert was a delicious chocolate & creme brûlée tart with vanilla ice cream.

Eric Simpson, Barbara Tober, Ryan Brown and Emmanuelle de Negri Photo Patrick McMullan

The full festival schedule of The Era of Madame de Pompadour included In The Salons of Versailles and ‘Pergolesi’.

Michele Gerber Klein, Margaret Hedberg, Kip Forbes Photo Patrick McMullan

Opera Lafayette premieres newly restored operatic works of the 17th and 19th century with dance, period costumes and rising stars singers, dancers and musicians with period instruments to capture a period of storytelling.

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Yvonna Russell

Writer. I cover the arts, good causes and style. Will work for coffee, wine and Manolo Blahniks.