Early evening showers on Thursday, May 27, brought out men in topcoats with umbrellas. They escorted guests—some flying in from South America, the Caribbean and Europe—from their black cars to a white carpet running up the entrance of Cipriani 42nd Street and onto the venue’s marble floors. A 13-piece orchestra, all dressed in white dinner jackets, played a mixture of Latin dance music late into the night. (For more photos from the event, see Snapping Around).
The occasion was El Museo del Barrio’s 2010 annual black-tie gala, where world-renowned opera singer and conductor Plácido Domingo was presented with a special lifetime achievement award by leading fashion designer Oscar de la Renta. Barbara Walters was the gala’s Master of Ceremonies but regretfully could not attend, due to her recovery from heart surgery. “Dear, Plácido, only an injured heart would keep me from being with you tonight,” Walters said in her remarks read by De la Renta.
“You are the musical genius of our time,” said Walter’s personal message to Domingo, which was read by De la Renta after dinner. “That glorious voice. Who else can sing both as a tenor or baritone and conduct a symphony orchestra and administer an opera company and teach and encourage and inspire? You are superb in every capacity. In addition to your millions of fans, there are all those with you tonight thanking you for your devotion to the Museum.”
The event raised $1.1 million dollars for El Museo’s art education and community outreach programs. The seven o’clock cocktail hour included a silent auction, which offered jewelry, beach getaways and a limited edition print of Lovers by Puerto Rican-born artist Enoc Perez.
Domingo, born in Spain and raised in Mexico, has served as Chair of El Museo’s Board of Trustees for more than a decade. He is one of the most accomplished opera singers in the world, with a career spanning more than five decades. During the 1990s and early 2000s, Domingo performed concerts as one of The Three Tenors, a famous group consisting of him, Spanish singer José Carreras and Italian singer Luciano Pavarotti. Domingo has supported the education of young artists worldwide and has helped raise millions for victims of Mexico’s 1985 earthquake and natural disasters in Guerrero, Yucatán, El Salvador and New Orleans.
Guests included well-known philanthropists, and fashion designers, such as Narciso Rodriguez, Angel Sanchez and Maria Cornejo. Other attendees included: Moises de la Renta, Laura and Dick Parsons, Estrellita and Daniel Brodsky, Claudia Cisneros, Christian Cota, Jane and Calvin Catritz, Barbaralee Diamonstein and Carl Spielvogel, Olga and Tony Duke, Donald and Adelle Hall, Eleanor and Michael Kennedy, Alexandra Lebenthal and Jay Diamond, Ambassador John L. Loeb, Liz and Jeff Peek, Candy Price, Gillian and Sylvester Miniter, Silvia Ortiz, Enoc Perez, Jane and Reed Rubin, John and Gaily Beinecke, and many more.
The gala’s stellar honorary committee included José Solís Betancourt, Rubén Blades, María Cornejo, Francisco Costa, Christian Cota, Benicio del Toro, Alex González, Carolina and Reinaldo Herrera, Marilyn Horne, Carlos Mota, Candy Pratts Price, Brian Reyes, Narciso Rodríguez, Angel Sánchez, and Isabel + Rubén Toledo.
El Museo del Barrio, founded in 1969 and located on Manhattan’s Museum Mile, is the only museum dedicated to Latino, Latin American and Caribbean art. Its permanent collection of 6,500 objects spans 800 years and represents several mediums, including drawings, paintings, sculptures, installations and video. (Read Abby’s earlier story on El Museo del Barrio).
Photo credits: Nick Hunt/Patrick McMullan; William Lopez