Bohemian Rhapsodies

Missives from the Jet Set

I’ll Take SAT Words for 100, Please, Alex

(Top Left: Dinner on the Wang Theatre stage at the BLO gala; Top Right: The after-party at the BLO gala, Bottom Left: Kurt Gress at the BLO gala, Bottom Middle: Willa and Taylor Bodman at the BLO gala, Bottom Right: Steve Akin at the BLO gala)

The opera might not be over till the fat lady sings, but opera season doesn’t begin until Boston Lyric Opera hosts its Opening Night Gala.

The black-tie evening began with an elegant dinner on the stage of the Wang Theatre, after which everyone crossed the street to see the company’s superbly imaginative take on La Bohème at the Shubert Theatre. Then it was back to the Wang for Champagne, desserts, dancing and other bohemian behavior.

Prominent among the throng: the evening’s honoree, Steve Akin, and his beautiful bride, Jane, equestrienne extraordinaire Diana Rockefeller, social arbiter Wendy Shattuck, opera buffs Sam Parkinson and Kurt Gress, the dashing Davin Wedel and David Paul, statuesque beauty
Willa Bodman and her other half, Taylor, the hippie-chic Doris Yaffe, genius composer Tod Machover, new board chair Michael Puzo, and one woman who had yet to be served an entree at dinner and was asked by her hostess, “Are you neglected…or just vegetarian?”

However, the evening’s funniest exchange came when one attendee started a sentence by saying, “Years ago, a friend of mine from Brooklyn married a woman from Michigan,” at which point someone interrupted to say, “What?!? I thought there were miscegenation laws back then.”

Ars Longa, Party Brevis

(Top Left: Michael Winston, Claudia Robaina, Amanda Accardi and Mitch Weiss at ARTcetera, Top Right: Carl Sciortino, Alli Achtmeyer and Bryan Rafanelli at ARTcetera, Bottom: Sofia Ostrer and Adriana Ardila Hassan at ARTcetera)

Whether you were in the market for a modern masterpiece or simply wanted to rub elbows with the in-crowd, the Park Plaza Castle was the place to be when the AIDS Action Committee hosted its biannual contemporary art auction on steroids, ARTcetera.

The turnout was stellar—not surprising given that the cochairs were party planner to the rich and famous Bryan Rafanelli and stunning blond supersocialite Alli Achtmeyer—and it included the likes of Venezuelan stunner Claudia Robaina and the ruggedly handsome Michael Winston, Miami-based artist Brian Burkhardt, media scion Pat Purcell Jr., incorrigible scamp Paul Karger, P-town museum head Chris McCarthy, the deCordova’s John Ravenal, the always adorable Douglas Spencer and one person who vowed to stop bidding on things after his second cocktail, adding, “My in-laws’ house is the graveyard for artwork we’ve bought while I was drunk.”

The evening raised more than $700,000 for a cause that’s vitally important, but lest it sound snooty, know that the following was overheard by the bar: “I was a tuna fisherman that summer when you were waitressing.”

Know Thyself

(Matthew Teitelbaum, H.R.H. Princess Beatrix and Ronni Baer at the MFA’s opening reception for Class Distinctions)

Riddle: When is a queen no longer a queen? Answer: When she’s reigned over a magnificent kingdom for 33 years and steps down to let her hair down, which is what H.R.H. Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands did at the opening of the Museum of Fine Arts’ exhibition Class Distinctions: Dutch Painting in the Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer.

The former monarch (from whom the ladies of Boston could learn a thing or 12) was perfectly charming, looked comme il faut and seemed to enjoy herself immensely while touring the exhibit, without much in the way of protocol and puffery.

That said, there was a dinner afterward in the Koch Gallery, and one benefactor said, “We all have to be seated before she enters the room,” to which her husband replied, “With you here, that means we’ll never get dinner.”

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