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A Holiday Party at the Bronx Museum and an Opera in Springs

Originally Posted: December 28, 2005

Lauren Ezersky and Maggie Norris at the Bronx Museum cocktail
party. Photo by Jimi Celeste of Partick McMullan Photography
courtesy of R. Couri Hay CPR.

The Bronx Museum of the Arts tossed a cocktail party at the prestigious Marlborough Gallery on 57th Street to thank all the people over the past year that have supported its mission to serve the culturally diverse populations of the Bronx, New York, and the international art world by collecting contemporary work by artists of African, Asian, and Latin American descent, and those artists with strong ties to the Bronx.

It was a festive affair hosted by Michèle Gerber Klein, Janis Gardner Cecil, Anton Perich and Tama Janowitz with Grey Goose vodka, Best Cellars wine and a menu of hors d'oeuvres by Gillie Holme that included shots of curried butternut squash soup, steak tartar on basil leaves, African globe grapes with foie gras, followed by blocks of crumbled Belgian bittersweet chocolate. On the walls of the gallery were fascinating and gorgeous large paintings of meditative tropical scenes by Latin American artist Tomás Sánchez. Unfortunately -or fortunately for Tomás, they all had red sold dots on them.

The crowd included artists and artistic types -many who really dressed up for the occasion: Hunt Slonim, Colette, Brian Ermanski, Nicola L., Doug Siegel, Heidi Calvert, Edward Butler, Amber Ray, Michel Auder, DeeDee Luxe, Jacob Fuglsang Mikkelsen and Leemour Pelli.

Also Katherine Narducci, who plays Charmaine Bucco on The Sopranos, Simone Klabin, society bandleader Alex Donner, designers Alvin Valley, Joe Cheng and Maggie Norris, Behind the Velvet Rope's Lauren Ezersky, downtown queen Contessa Zapak, composer Tristan Perich, Dana Buckley, Philippa Feigen and Jonathan Malkin, Heather Cohane, Secrets of Charm designers Sharon and Estée Elkayam, Dean Swanson, Ally Anderson and Jock Spivey, Ruth Fleischmann, Mark Langrish, Bonnie Bien, Michael Bongiovi, Heide Neuhof, Bill Madden, Patricia Burnham, Niko Elmaleh, Mary Gallagher, Chambliss Giobbi Giobbi, Philip and Susan Marx Kivitz, Cormac McEnery, Marysol, Robert Rubin, Lauren Rosati, Dawn Sandoval, curator Lydia Yee, Jason Grant, Cesarina Ferro, Emma Snowdon-Jones, R. Douglass Rice, Charles Wilcox, Beverly Michael and BXMA's Sergio Bessa, Shirley Solomon, Diana Cabo and Lynn Pono.

The adorable cast of the Springs opera. Photo courtesy of Ellen
Watson Photography.

History, opera, choreography ... and kids? In today's cyber fast 3-D hip hop culture, can these unlikely forces mingle for the common good? If you're one of 40 fourth grade students at Springs School in East Hampton, New York, the answer is a resounding musical high note, "Aye!"

On December 19 and 20, in conjunction with the Metropolitan Opera Guild's Creating Original Opera Program, 40 members of Springs School's Brave and Brilliant Opera Company produced "Days in Bonac," a lively, colorful 45-minute program inspired by the lore of Springs days gone-by.

For the ninth consecutive year, Springs School will produce the only student-directed opera on Long Island. Nine and ten-year old students drive every aspect of the Springs Opera Company and opera "jobs" are carried out under the supervision of faculty directors trained by the Metropolitan Opera Guild (MOG).

In an East End hamlet famous for its abundance of world-renowned artists, budding student "Pollacks" design and develop engaging sets and brilliant costumes, manage high tech lighting and staging and rehearse all scenes. Student writers choose a topic, author the libretto, compose the score, choreograph all moves and manage publicity, programs and fundraising.

"Sure, it's nerve-wracking to help our students muscle through their regular studies and state tests plus ace the arts," said Mr. Casale, "but for our students, the Springs Opera is an inspiring and invigorating introduction to the performing arts that lasts a lifetime. At Springs, we look at educating 'the whole child,' and we believe arts and literacy work hand-in-hand. So after nearly a decade producing the fourth grade opera, our faculty has this nailed."

Traditionally hosted in the Springs gymnasium, the 2005 production will premiere at the John Drew Theatre at Guild Hall, Main Street, East Hampton. With a Metropolitan Opera Guild educational program entirely unique to Long Island, the Opera company consistently receives rave reviews from the community for its kaleidoscope of clever lyrics and scripts, dynamic sets and awesome student theatrics.

"The Metropolitan Opera's Creating Original Opera is a nationally recognized program that seeks to engage teachers, MOG teaching artists and students in an in-depth multi-arts program," said Debra Evans, Director of Education for the Metropolitan Opera Guild. "We will be travelling to Springs this year to see how the school has integrated the performing arts into their core curriculum."

Springs teachers working on the opera include Colleen McGowan (writers, costume/set design), Sue Ellen O'Connor (writers, public relations, film crew), Valerie Policastro (makeup/set design), Melissa Sharkey (director, performers/managers), Kyril Bromley (arranger) and Margaret Thompson (composers/performers/ coordinator).

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