September 2007

Special Events25 Sep 2007 05:09 pm

by Diane Malone
24th Sept 2007

    mary louise parker willem dafoe blythe danner

  jane fonda digonis                                          
   The stars came out on September 24th, when Mary Zimmerman, Tony Award-winning theatrical and opera director, opened the Metropolitan Opera season with a new production of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor.
   This star-studded celebration of opera marks the second opening night season with General Manager Peter Gelb at the helm. The event was broadcasted live on large screens for audiences at Lincoln Center Plaza and Times Square. With a cast that included soprano Natalie Dessay and Marcello Giordiani, with James Levine conducting, the anticipation of thousands of opera goers was high. From the ticket holders to the free to the public live screenings, opera was in the city air for the evening. 

placido domingo caroline digonis

   The gala event attracted an array of celebrities, from first timers to the ones that have attended and supported the Metropolitan Opera for many years. Jane Fonda seemed to be a first since she was quoted “I’m frankly not too big on opera”, while Barbara Walters has attended the Met Opera for several years. Met Opera Patron Mercedes Bass, also a longtime supporter of the Met, was walking the red carpet posing for photographers and enjoying herself along with her husband Sid. Opera legend Marilyn Horne was a pleasant surprise, looking in good health and warmly greeting the crowd before meeting up with her opera colleague Roberta Peters. Someone called to her “didn’t you use to be Marilyn Horne”, at which point the friendly mannered Horne laughed it off and showed her style. On the other hand, John McEnroe tried to tease the awaiting photographers saying “You’re not the real photographers”, at which point he got the return from a photographer saying “Well you’re not a real tennis player”. At that point he existed swiftly into the Met. Jane Fonda tried to dodge the photographers as well and got a stinging “Hanoi Jane” thrown at her from one of them. Barbara Walters enjoyed herself wearing long white opera gloves while Placido Domingo came with his wife Marta and gave several quick interviews. Placido Domingo mentioned that he will be celebrating his 39th year performing with the Met Opera in a few days.

marilyn horne caroline digonis met opera

   Among the attendees were Mary-Louise Parker, Placido Domingo, Willem Dafoe, Blythe Danner, Jane Fonda, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Walter Cronkite, Joanna Simon, Barbara Walters, Bianca Jagger, Cady Huffman, Anna Netrebko, John McEnroe, Patty Smyth, Vera Farmiga, Marilyn Horne, Zac Posen, Deborah Norville, Morley Safer and Georgette Mosbacher.   
   The evening concluded with a post-performance dinner in Damrosch Park, located alongside the Metropolitan Opera House, for a little over 1,000 supporting guests. The intimate party setting, which was tent enclosed, was decorated with white tables, a large lit chandelier moon, fancy centerpieces and elements that mimic the opera’s forest theme. 

        anna netrebko walter cronkite walters digonis

All Photos: (C) Caroline P. Digonis 2007 





Special Events19 Sep 2007 05:31 pm

by Diane Malone
18 Sept 2007

 quincy jones stevie wonder ben vereen

  What does a Country singer, an R&B singer and an Opera singer all have in common? On September 18th they all shared a musical message and that message was the echoes of the late Martin Luther King, Jr. to “bring people together in harmony” and respect individual differences. The star-studded benefit “Dream Concert” did just that, bringing together many different genres of musicians, politicians, and people to raise funds for the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial in Washington, DC. The once-in-a-lifetime three-hour benefit concert was held at Radio City Music Hall and marked an historical occasion helping to close the financial gap of the 81 Million that the Build The Dream Foundation already raised and the 100 Million that is needed to complete the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial. 
garth brooks  Among the celebrity lineup was legend Aretha Franklin, Garth Brooks, Queen Latifah, Ben Vereen, Joss Stone, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, opera diva Jessye Norman, Stevie Wonder, John Legend, Pat Monahan, Carlos Santana, Kirk Franklin, Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Thicke, Quincy Jones, Bebe Winans, Cece Winans, and Russell Simmons. The evening was filled with an eclectic mix of performers, presenters, and supporters, some giving brief speeches such as Quincy Jones who was one of the co-chairmen of the event. 
  Themes were also evident among the performers choice of song, from Garth Brook’s “We Shall Be Free” to the fantastic opera diva Jessye Norman who performed a grand “America the Beautiful”. Legend Aretha Franklin belted out her signature trademark “Respect” while Stevie Wonder roused the audience with his closing performances of “Superstition” and “Happy Birthday” to Dr. King.

kirk franklin caroline digonis

  Stevie Wonder was also given an acknowledgment award for his efforts helping to raise funds towards the memorial. Stevie Wonder, receiving a standing ovation, reminded the audience of Dr. Kings message for racial harmony and the continued efforts that people must make towards this goal.
  The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial is scheduled to be completed in 2009 and will stand between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials in Washington, DC.


All photos: (c) Caroline P. Digonis 2007


Restaurants04 Sep 2007 11:11 pm

by Lucy Foster
5 Sept 2007

Location: 187 Columbia St., at the corner of Columbia and Degraw Street in Brooklyn, NY 11231

   Alma’s is a three-story restaurant, situated on the waterfront, that serves fancy Mexican food and includes a bar, indoor dining, and a rooftop patio with beautiful views of the Manhattan skyline. The rooftop patio is open year round and does not require reservations for the breezy terrace atmosphere. The terrace is even heated in the winter months for your dining pleasure. Alma is considered to have one of the best views of Manhattan in rooftop dining. 
    The menu ranges from Mexican standards to more sophisticated dishes. I have tried several dishes and found all of them a tasty surprise. In particular, I’ve enjoyed the shrimp that is small but tasty and is served with a flavorful dressing that includes sprinkles of jalapeƱo, lime and cilantro. The grilled shrimp dish is also a very satisfying choice. If you really want to get full try the huitlacoche lasagne, made with layers of lasagne filled with cheddar cheese and huitlacoche for $16.00. There’s plenty of side dishes for your dining experience for about $5.00 each that are also made with spicy details. The desserts are equally satisfying as well and some are prepared at local bakery shops in the area. I’ve enjoyed the key lime pie a few times now and it goes well following a seafood dish. The coconut cheesecake is made at Helen’s Fabulous Cheesecake Bakery that is located nearby Alma’s restaurant. I’m going to purchase two or three of these coconut cheesecakes around Thanksgiving for family and friends to enjoy. It’s really worth the trip since Helen’s Fabulous Cheesecake Bakery is located on 126 Union Street, just around the corner from Alma’s. The service at Alma’s restaurant is very friendly and inviting. My whole meal was under $25.00 and I took my time enjoying the views of Manhattan.
   Their website has directions to the restaurant. I would recommend the Southbound B61 bus since it stops right on the block.