A Spear-headed Festive Luncheon

Tommie Spear gathered 13 of her many Montecito friends for an elegant sit-down luncheon at her Solimar Beach place. Spear is a decorator by profession and her home is a testament to her skills, filled with antiques and prints from Provence. She can also claim writer in her credits; her book, “A Star To Steer Her By,” was published in 2006. It is based on a true story of a sailing odyssey she took with her late husband, Kelly.

Spear didn’t look like a tough sailor as she hosted this perfect luncheon. It reminded me of the saying, “The most important thing about a meal is who you eat it with.” I was joined by Beverlie Latimer, Anna Robinson, Joyce Rogers, Barbara Benin (past owner of a favorite boutique on Coast Village Road), Val Bennett, Barbie Burgess, Greta Hansen, Mary Conrad, Melinda Mars, Joanne Kendall, Gail Barnard and Norma Lagomarcino. It was a chatty time in our busy lives to see old friends and wish them well.

The Grand Tour

Hania Tallmadge’s book, “A Grand Tour of Asia – 1910,” a collection of hand-tinted photographs taken that year and presented in a facsimile edition of the original album, was published recently. Author Beverly Jackson sponsored a book signing at Tecolote Book Shop in Upper Village to honor the release. (Jackson has written several coffee table books on China and she lectures throughout the United States.)

Montecito’s favorite bartender Fernando Velez kept with the theme of the book and was dressed in a mandarin jacket, passing out champagne and chocolate fortune cookies. Tallmadge and Jackson were in full Asian dress sitting at a table covered with an oriental cloth. I caught artist Fred Gowland having his book signed.

Congratulations Hania and here’s wishing you many book sales!

Hot Flashes

Jorgen Kjaempe hangs out a lot at the Santa Barbara Yacht Club with his sailboat, Hot Flash. It was only appropriate that his wife, June, had him “Sailing Into The Big 70,” as the invitations read for his birthday party at their Montecito home.

Many of the guests knew each other and had attended June and Jorgen’s wedding 20 years ago at the Biltmore. Maybe that’s why the party was so much fun and noisy, as people wandered throughout the crowded house sipping, munching and meeting again – people such as Jeney and Jim McCoy (the ice cream man), Judy and Brian Robertson, Greta Hanson and Tom Sherby, Sue and Bill Wagner, Melinda and Dean Mars, Karen and Phil Van Horn, Judy and George Writer, Eileen and Monty Amyx, and Bobbie and Dick Dohan.

Seventy is looking younger every year! Here’s to many more.

Opera at Marjorie Luke

Local boy makes good! Internationally renowned tenor Eduardo Villa went to school in Santa Barbara – Dos Pueblos High School, four years in the Marines and back to Santa Barbara City College where one of his instructors discovered his talent. Villa won the Metropolitan Opera House Contest and was off to Europe for 15 years. Besides singing in Munich and other opera houses, he recently sang in Linda Hedgepeth’s living room with Villa’s first vocal coach, Sharon Currier, accompanying him. It was so impromptu Currier had to go home for the music to “Granada.” Villa also speaks French, German, Spanish and Italian.

Hedgepeth’s grand old Upper Eastside home was the venue for a reception honoring Villa, who had volunteered to do a benefit concert for the Diabetes Resource Center and UCSB opera program at Marjorie Luke Theatre. His mom still lives in Santa Barbara, so he came early to visit.

I was there back in 1976 when Villa sang in “Jesus Christ Superstar” at the County Bowl. This evening, he told me a cute story that happened after he became famous. “The tenor got sick and I was called to fill in on the opera Luisa Miller before I had a costume,” Villa said. “I ended up wearing Plácido Domingo’s pants, Luciano Pavarotti’s coat and José Carreras’s vest. I didn’t sing with the three tenors, but I wore their clothes.”

There must have been 100 people crowding the dining room table, the butler’s pantry and the living room, with its grand piano where Villa thrilled us with a teaser for the upcoming concert. Dr. Michael Fisher, president of the Diabetes Resource Center for Santa Barbara county, and Steven Kronauer, Ph.D., acting chairman of the UCSB voice department, were happily greeting guests. Kronauer and Villa met while they were both with the Munich Opera.

Diabetes Resource Center Executive Director Marilyn Zellet and Richard Weiss were instrumental in organizing the reception. Other opera fans in attendance were Ana Zaferris, administrative assistant to State Street Ballet (hostess Hedgepeth is vice president of the ballet), Michael Millhollan, Patricia Dixon and Tim Putz, Dolores Hsu, Ida and Bruce Rickborn and Symphony League President Diane Calvert with husband, John.