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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The 62nd Annual Viennese Opera Ball at the Waldorf=Astoria, New York

          ”Man sollte die leichten dinge ernst und die ernsten dinge leight nehmen.” 
(One should take the light things seriously, and the serious things light.)
Zsa Zsa Gabor 

             Since 1955, the Viennese Opera Ball (VOB) has celebrated Austrian-American cultural and economic relations in New York City, with utmost festive elegance, while benefitting a worthy cause. 

          This year, the 62nd Viennese Opera Ball, under new artistic leadership of Daniel Serafin, uniquely celebrated the 150th anniversary of the secret national anthem waltz of Vienna, Johann Strauss Jr.'s The Blue Danube, while duely honoring Composer Leonard Bernstein - A New Yorker in Vienna, a Jewish Museum Vienna project co-ordinated with US Friends of the Jewish Museum of Vienna, for perhaps the very last, ultimate, White Tie Gala in the history of the Grand Ballroom, under the glorious, gorgeous blue lights, at the Waldorf=Astoria, New York, on February 10, 2017.  

Former US Ambassador to Austria, H.E. Alexa  Wesner
Below, the playing of the National Anthems of USA and Austria by Strauss Festival Orchestra Vienna. In attendance H.E. Alexa Westner, President Obama's U.S. Ambasador to Austria, Actress Keira Chaplin and event Co-Chairs Silvia Freiser and Michael Pecnik.
Actress/Producer Kiera Chaplin
National Anthem of USA/ AUSTRIA
        The 62nd Viennese Opera Ball was presented by the Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Austria, H.E. Sebastian Kurz. 

Eva Chickerling with VOB Co-Chairs  Silvia Frieser and Michael Pecnik

MET tenor Stephen Costello, tenor Massimo Giordanosoprano Sarah Joy Miller and Vienna State Opera's soprano Kristin Lewis joined in song on the floor of the Grand Ballroom. Costello performed Guiseppe Verdi's "La donna e mobile", Giordano performed Salvatore Cardillo and Riccardo Cordiferro's "Core 'Ngrato" (Ungrateful Heart), as the women swooned. Miller sang "Quando me'm vo'"(Musetta's Waltz),  from Puccini's "La Boheme", while Lewis sang George Gershwin's Porgy & Bess "Summertime." Finally, Costello sang "Dein its main gazes", from the 1929 operetta "The Land of Smiles", before guests took to the dance floor for a Midnight Quadrille by Choreographer Thomas Kraml. Later, at the Tanzmar, percussionist Ali Jackson, resident artist at Jazz Lincoln Center played on, befitting a Leonard Bernstein tribute.

Debs waltzing in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf=Astoria

The Strauss Festival Orchestra Vienna plays "Blue Danube Waltz,"  the unofficial anthem of Vienna.

           72 years has passed since the MGM’s making of Lana Turner and Ginger Rodgers’ Week-End At the Waldorf, a remake of 1932’s film Grand Hotel, where anything can happen during a magical weekend at the Waldorf; a celebrity can fall for a war-torn war correspondent, a dying soldier can find purpose to live, a man of little means can become a millionaire over night, and a dog is treated like royalty. 

Dancing in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf=Astoria
    At the Waldorf=Astoria, one can take an adventure, into another time and place. One step into the iconic landmark Art Deco laden hotel, and you are transported back to that time where anything can happen and social classes have no confinements. The Waldorf’s Grand Ballroom has housed hundreds of White Tie Galas, notables such as Winston Churchill, Robert Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller have all been in attendance.

    The Waldorf=Astoria will be closing it’s doors to the public for at least 3 years to undergo massive renovations in the conversion of 1,400 hotel rooms to luxary condominiums. Under Waldorf’s new ownership, Anbang Insurance Group Co., based in Beijing, it is suggested that only 300-500 hotel rooms will remain and will be re-opened in 2020. Anbang purchased the Landmark U.S. hotel for $1.95 billion in 2015. Hilton Worldwide Holdings will continue to manage the property.

Daniel Serafin helps Anabelle Gray Siklos

   Perhaps, we as Americans can learn a little more from the Austrians' sense of celebration and light -- and Zsa Zsa, who would have been 100 years old February 6, 2017. Let us take the heavy things lightly and take the light things seriously. One way, I know now is, Waltzing. Waltzing is good for the soul, heart and mind. So glad VOB is home to New York, a place where, for sure, we have to lighten up a bit, stop thinking, get dressed up and just waltz for a few hours. 

NY Editor, Ariane Von Kamp
Ariane Von Kamp is the NY Editor of International Lux Magazine. She is a LA based writer in NY. Ariane has had her play produced Off-Broadway, Trials Of The Fire, about an Austrian Psychologist who falls in love with a patient. Her book The Sublime, a Treatise on the Nature of the Sublime is available at Barnes& She has worked at Randon House Books, written for Lifestyles Magazine, Celebrity Services International and has written extensively for TV. She is currently working on a feature screenplay, The Dog Who Knew Too Much.  Ariane is a member of SAG/AFTRA, WGA-E, ATAS and NATAS, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Photog, Hope Lourie Killcoyne
Photographer Hope Lourie Killcoyne’s career began as a writer/producer in television at NBC Network News. She then worked at Channel 13/PBS, where she wrote and produced award-winning promos. A few years later, her first children’s book, "The Lost Village of Central Park,” led to a career shift—educational publishing—first as managing editor at Silver Moon Press; then as executive editor at Britannica Educational Publishing. As of 2015, she has been a freelance writer and photographer, working chiefly for the Writers Guild of America, East. With a camera as her constant companion, Killcoyne has won regional, national, and international awards for her environmental portraiture.

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