+ Scene stealer
The big names were out in force for Sarasota-Manatee Jewish Federation’s “A Night to Celebrate Israel” Jan. 12, at Van Wezel. Co-Chairs Len and Helen Glaser and Jack andSusie Steenberger organized a major gifts and sponsor dinner that attracted 250 guests and recognized a long list of supporters. Then, a capacity crowd of 1,700 filled Van Wezel to see former federation President Dr. Lewis Hananinterview Natan Sharansky, a deputy prime minister of Israel, followed by a performance by Israeli pop star Noa. With all that, the highlight for many guests was a dinnertime piano interlude by 9-year-old piano prodigy Maya Tamir.
+ Something new under the sun
… And in the most unexpected place — the silent-auction table. A new system called BidPal will make its first Sarasota appearance at Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida’s annual dinner celebration. BidPal preprograms an iPod Touch for each guest who can then use it to bid, to keep tabs on who else is bidding — and even make donations. It even sends notifications when you are outbid. BidPal sounds as fun as it is high tech. Try it out at the Planned Parenthood event Tuesday, March 1, at the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium. Sally Yanowitz is back for her second year as co-chairwoman, joined by Judy Cahn and Betty Schoenbaum. Tickets are $150; call 365-3913, Ext. 1124.
+ And the winner is …
Now begins the run-up to the 2011 Greenfield Prize of the Hermitage Artist Retreat. This year, the $30,000 award will go to a nationally significant playwright, and the winner will be announced at a patron party Jan. 22. The guest speaker at the March 27 dinner will be Oskar Eustis, artistic director of New York’s Public Theatre. According to Chairwoman Flora Major, attendance will be limited to maintain the intimacy and special character of the event. Tickets are being offered first to past attendees and patrons. For more information, contact The Hermitage at 475-2098 or go online atwww.HermitageArtistRetreat.org.
A big night for white … Two different florists served up two similar centerpieces for the Perlman & Pearls and Sunshine from Darkness galas, both Jan. 8. White hydrangeas and white dendrobium orchids starred at both parties … No such thing as a free lunch … but 375 people showed up last week for Sarasota Ballet’s On Pointe luncheon. “It was insanity at Michael’s,” according to one observer ..
+ Black Tie Affair
2011 Winter Opening Night Gala • 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 5 • The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota • Ticket $225 • Reservations 366-8450, Ext. 402
It seems like only yesterday. The Opera Ball held Dec. 22, 2001, was the first event to take place at the just completed Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota. It was a “can’t miss” if ever there were one, an important first in Sarasota hospitality and a new benefit for the opera — a second gala, in addition to opening night. The Opera Ball continued at the Ritz-Carlton until 2005 when it was suspended to focus resources on the capital campaign, and the opening-night celebration in a tent downtown once again became the opera’s only major gala. Now, Executive Director Susan Danis says, “I think everyone loved the tent experience, but they are ready for a change. Given all the changes downtown … we thought it best to reinvent opening night once again and move it to the Ritz.” The 2011 Winter Opening Night Gala follows the performance of “La bohème.” (Guests will valet at the Opera House, travel to the Ritz in luxury coaches and retrieve their vehicles there.) It fuses the grand traditions of opening night, and the opera ball and has all the markings of another “can’t miss.”