There is a new artistic director driving Opera Naples after the sudden departure of its founder, Steffanie Pearce. Ramon Tebar, music director of Florida Grand Opera and artistic director of the Palm Beach Symphony, is already in place. Tebar was the first Spanish conductor to be appointed to an American opera company when he took his post at Florida Grand Opera … Give the Heights Foundation points for creative fundraising. In the name of getting rid of an invasive fish that is threatening our ecosystem, it staged Feast on the Beast in May, where teams caught lionfish and local chefs cooked it up for the guests. The money raised helped send kids to camp and the exercise did wonders for preserving the reefs … Congratulations to Dwyane Bergmann and Luis Insignares. The couple welcomed their twin sons, Carter and Coleman, into this world on Feb. 22. Bergmann is a well-known interior designer and Insignares is a high-profile Lee County attorney. “Being new parents involves emotion beyond description,” Bergmann told me …
NEW PARTY SPOT
This farm is a fairy tale of what every farm should be.
—Sarah Grueneberg, visitor at the farm and executive chef at Angelina’s Ristorante
Former columnist and sommelier Rose O’Dell King is turning her Rosy Tomorrows Heritage Farm into the latest party hot spot. She opens up to the public on Market Days and invites the area’s top chefs to create lunch. Chef Gloria M. Jordan d’Cabral of La Trattoria Cafe Napoli was spotted there in early May, creating culinary delights with the freshest ingredients possible for a crowd of fans including Stephanie Davis, Terry and Mimi Tincher, and Lisa Marazzi. Her operation is drawing rave reviews from foodies. They’re flocking to the 88-acre North Fort Myers farm, where King and her husband, Gary, a former Chico’s executive, are raising 100 percent grass-fed cows, pastured heritage-breed pigs and poultry.
… Three galas celebrated big anniversaries this past season. Old Bags and New Friends Help the Shelter Celebrate its 25th Anniversary: Heart-stopping, previously loved and new designer handbags were auctioned off at the Old Bags Luncheon benefitting The Shelter for Abused Women & Children. On hand was fashion designer Carmen Marc Valvo, who, with Saks Fifth Avenue, previewed his Fall 2014 Couture and Fur Collection. Community Leadership is 25 Years Strong: The Leadership Collier Foundation reconnected more than 400 civic and business leaders who gathered to commemorate its 25th anniversary. A Naples private airplane hangar was the backdrop and retired Marine Gen. Peter Pace, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, delivered the inspirational keynote address. Two Anniversaries and One Memorable Evening: The 10th anniversary of Magic Under the Mangroves raised a record-breaking $1.3 million for the Conservancy Nature Center, which celebrated its 50th year. One auction item—a spectacular 4.82-carat fancy yellow diamond ring—was created in honor of the Conservancy’s Golden Anniversary … Guest speaker Jenny Schatzle certainly got the crowd’s attention when she took off her red dress at Southwest Florida’s Go Red for Woman Luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point in May. The celebrity personal trainer had workout clothes underneath—and a message. She was aiming to encourage women to exercise so they can help keep their hearts healthy. “When are we going to start leading by example?” she asked the crowd. At the same event, man-about-town Andrew Sicnolf and his father, Jim, gave moving testimony about how heart disease robbed them of their mother/wife when Andrew was just 12 year old. Guests included Judy Marla Williams, Lindsay Logue and Lou Pontius … Those crazy ladies with Impact Initiative took the party out onto the open seas with a Pirate Cruise in April. More than 60 members and their spouses boarded the Pieces of Eight Pirate Ship on the 25th and were soon rolling down the isles as hostess Stefanie Ink and the crew regaled them with some bawdy pirate jokes. The night raised money for The Optimal Healing Environment Program, a more holistic way of delivering health care at Cape Coral Hospital. Impact Initiative is an all-women grassroots organization dedicated to building better health care in our community … Our Naples neighbor Judge Judy (Sheindlin) had her own prime-time special on CBS in May. We learned that it all began for her on TV when Morley Safer did a 60 Minutes segment about her days as a New York Family Court judge. Hollywood producers saw this jurist with a tart sense of humor and knew they could create a show around her. The rest, as they say, is history, and her show has been the No. 1-rated courtroom program for nearly 1,000 weeks.
A sampling of money raised for local charities
The Choice Affair (Planned Parenthood): $300,000
Fete du Cirque (Opera Naples): $350,000
Mending Broken Hearts Luncheon (The Shelter for Abused Women & Children): $700,000
Storybook Ball (Ronald McDonald House): $150,000
Wine, Women and Shoes (Cancer Alliance of Naples): $250,000