- The Washington Times - Monday, June 11, 2001

There was plenty of green at the Washington Operas "Midsummer Night" Ball Friday night, and not just because thickets of birch trees dominated the scene in the enormous party tent at Swedish Ambassador Jan Eliassons residence.
No doubt about it, big, big money was the news of the night, and ball organizers didnt fail to deliver on deadline.
"I am pleased to announce that the Washington Opera Ball has raised a record-breaking $2 million," announced chairwoman Betty Scripps Harvey, who set the goal and helped things along rather nicely with a hefty $500,000 jump start from her family foundation. Add an equal amount contributed by opera chairman James V. Kimsey, $75,000 from philanthropist Catherine B. Reynolds, plus scores of sponsors at $5,000 to $25,000 levels, and it wasnt too hard to do the rest. (With so much top-heavy support, the $1,000-per-couple minimum-price tickets seemed like icing on the cake.)
The black-tie ball is one of the spring seasons most glamorous affairs, and the capitals, alas, rather limited number of best-dressed-list denizens can be counted upon to make dazzling appearances, despite the majoritys propensity to dress down in cocktail frocks and silky pantsuit ensembles.
Anne Bujon de lEstang, wife of the French ambassador, was her usual standout in a ruffled, off-the-shoulder silk taffeta ball gown by Christian LaCroix in a "shocking" coral hue. Ditto Mary Ourisman in a black and white striped Ralph Lauren skirt and black decollete top worn with arty jewelry. Grega Daly drew admiring glances in a fabulous multicolored LaCroix creation that recalled a masterwork by Joan Miro.
As Nina Auchincloss Straight observed: "Im glad someone is keeping haute couture alive and well in Washington."
After smallish dinners at 27 different embassies, about 600 guests converged on Mr. Eliassons Nebraska Avenue NW residence for desserts and dancing around 10:30 p.m. (most of them, unfortunately for the limoless, at the same time). Swedens Princess Christina, the youngest sister of King Karl XVI Gustav, was the most exalted guest in a crowd that included a majority of the Supreme Court (Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony Kennedy, Sandra Day OConnor and Antonin Scalia) and a number of Senate solons (John Breaux, Ted Stevens, Robert Bennett and Richard C. Shelby) trying to recuperate after a trying week.
"Most people realize that these things happen," Mr. Shelby said in response to questions about the recent switchover from Republican to Democratic control in the upper house. "Im hoping it will be a wake-up call for us," the Alabama Republican said, "because we need to energize our base and get a lot of good candidates in order to take recontrol after the 2002 election."
Also trying to relax was embattled Smithsonian Institution Secretary Lawrence M. Small, still smarting over criticism that he had abdicated organizational control of the National Museum of American Historys proposed new "Spirit of America" exhibition in order to please Mrs. Reynolds, the projects $38 million donor.
"The Smithsonian is relinquishing no control," Mr. Small said as Mike Carneys orchestra struck up "Quando, Quando" to a lively merengue beat. While Mrs. Reynolds does get to suggest 10 of the 15-member panel supervising the exhibit, "every one of them," he pointed out, "needs to be approved by the Smithsonians Board of Regents."
:Most guests conversational gambits followed far more innocuous lines: upcoming trips, opening up summer homes (Does everyone go to Aspen, Newport, Nantucket, Marthas Vineyard or Maine?) and, of course, the balls exquisite appointments by New York floral designer Philip Baloun. How thoughtful of him to focus on the Swedish traditional colors of blue and yellow in the massive arrangements of blue delphiniums and yellow roses complemented by white peonies.
Dancing continued until well past midnight, with the Swedes outlasting many of their guests. Mr. Eliasson and his wife, Kerstin, had a Lindy routine that looked nearly perfect and even Princess Christina was seen twirling in her royal pearls on the dance floor after picking the winner of a door prize trip for two to Stockholm.
Also among the guests (all at the top donor levels, to be sure) were: Hilda and Arturo Brillembourg, Raoul and Jean-Marie Fernandez, Mel and Suellen Estrin, Gregory Earls, Evelyn Nef, Daniel and Tanya Snyder, Britty Cudlip (with John Damgard), Ina Ginsburg, Monica and Hermen Greenberg, Evan and Cindy Jones, John F. Mars, John McLaughlin and Cristina Vidal, Hal and Carmen Petrowitz, Philip and Nina Pillsbury, Albert and Shirley Small, and Paul and Patricia Stern.

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