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A Great Evening of Rotary Fellowship and Royal Varuna Hospitality

An Operatic Extravaganza: A Night To Remember

A Great Evening of Rotary Fellowship and Royal Varuna Hospitality

Peter Cummins

It was a dual celebration at the Royal Varuna Yacht Club recently: Asia’s first Francophile - and, newest - Rotary Club, the Rotary Club Pattaya Marina, sounding nautical enough to hold its charter night at the Varuna seaside clubhouse. But there was something even more marine-oriented: The two guests of honour were sailors from one of Europe’s best-known yacht clubs, the Yacht Club de La-Baule, located in Bretagne, France. Dominique and Benoit Eraud, relatives of Pierre-Yves Eraud, president-elect of Rotary Club Pattaya Marina, were the epitome of Gallic charm and enjoyed the blend of Rotarians and yachties to the utmost.

Francois Baley receives the Paul Harris Fellow pin from President Nic.

Belgian, Nic Demet, the founder of the Rotary Pattaya Marina, has also been a man of the sea, being more on the mechanical side, however, as a purveyor of power boats and outboard engines.

Nic, a long-time member of the Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya had also invited members of the many clubs installed around the Eastern Seaboard and the Jomtien-Pattaya area.

As MC Peter Malhotra, a man never lost for words in any language, informed the gathering (in English, this time), of some 80 people at Varuna, the French are a people who know how to celebrate life and, seeing that all there were wining and dining with the utmost enjoyment, it somewhat proved Peter’s point.

Charter President Nicholas Demet introduces his board members to the District Governor Elect Jin Srikasikorn.

Starting out with a splendid ‘Sundowner’ at the Royal Varuna seafront bar, with a magnificent sunset and a warm southerly blowing in, the evening was off to a splendid start.

A movie presentation was then held in the clubhouse, as a tribute to the victims of the December 26 tsunami in the south of Thailand and to whom the Rotary Club Pattaya Marina had made a very large contribution, raising over one million baht in a very short time from the members of the fledgling club. Rotary Club Pattaya Marina targeted the fishing community in Bahn Nam Kem, providing funds and new fishing boats, vehicles and equipment, to allow the suffering people to take up their lives again.

President Nic is honoured with a plaque of appreciation, thanking him for forming a French speaking Rotary Club.

Then followed a toast to Rotary International, celebrating its 100th anniversary, being founded in Chicago on February 23, 1905. French-speaking Nic Demet made his address in his native language and said that he is proud and happy to be the charter president of the very first French speaking Rotary Club - not only in Thailand, but in all of Asia.

Madame Frederique Eraud is thanked for her support of the club’s efforts to help the tsunami victims.

President Nic then introduced his board to the audience: Charter vice-President Dr. Olivier Meyer, President-Elect Pierre-Yves Eraud, Treasurer Yves Echement, Secretary Bruno Amouroux, Club Service Director and Webmaster Franck Genot, Community Service Director Desire Dillen, International Service Director Pierre de Brugerolle and Vocational Service Director Daniel Dandoy.

The evening also saw the presentation of the highest Rotary International Award: A Paul Harris (Rotary Founder) Fellowship was given to Francois Balley, the commodore of the Yacht Club de la Baule, who was granted this honour for his generous cash contribution to Rotary.

President Judy Hoppe, Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya and Peter Cummins receive a cheque for 50,000 baht in support of the tsunami victims through the PC Classic.

Other awards were given to several different members and various clubs, as well as to individuals who assisted Rotary Marina in different ways.

President-Elect of Rotary Club Pattaya Marina Pierre-Yves Eraud, who will become president in July, organized an auction, with photographs of France’s best-known photographer and film-director, Alain Juno, who took this photographs on location, right after the tsunami.

Finally, President Nic Demet donated 50,000 baht to Judy Hoppe, president, Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya as a contribution to the 11th Pattaya Mail PC Classic Royal Cliff Beach International Regatta which was held on March 26, 2005. As in previous years, through Rotary, all proceeds from the regatta will be donated to the needy and disadvantaged of the region, especially children.

President Elect Pierre-Yves Eraud did a splendid job as auctioneer…all in French of course.

Then, it was back to yacht club business for a moment as Royal Varuna Commodore Don McKenzie, in the traditional manner between yacht clubs, exchanged club burgees with Frederique and Benoit Heraud, representing the Yacht Club de La-Baule.

Peter Cummins, in his ‘inimitable’ French, then passed on a letter from Santi Kanchanapundhu, incumbent flag commodore, Royal Varuna, to Benoit, for transmissioun to Commodore Balley, requesting reciprocal agreements between the two clubs.

And, as he left the marvellous evening of fellowship, camaraderie and goodwill between many Rotary Clubs and two yacht clubs, Peter (Cummins) was amazed to find that he was the proud owner of a French-built CTT (Cyclo de tout terrain) otherwise known as a mountain bike.

Peter (C), being quite inebriated at this stage, and when Pierre the Auctioneer called up the last item for auction, starting at 4,000 baht, Peter was merely trying to scratch his head when the machine was ‘knocked down’ to him at 5,000 baht of which he was quickly relieved.

A very surprised Royal Varunian wheeled the bike away saying, “It was an incredible bargain,” later adding that “when I am sober, I SHALL ride it!”

An Operatic Extravaganza: A Night To Remember

by Peter Cummins

Whenever the Royal Cliff Beach Resort presents special events, they are, indeed, very special and, on this occasion, with a backdrop of medieval splendour, the night of Italian Opera was perfect. The large attendance in the Grand Ballroom of the Royal Cliff Grand was enraptured with the sparkling performances of the two stars who not only sang with brilliance, but they also acted out vignettes from their operatic repertoire.

Jenny Miller and David Barrel mesmerized the audience into a fantasy realm of song and romance.

Taking place on Sunday, March 27, the Cliff’s “A Grand Night at the Opera” featured British Baritone David Barrel and Prima Donna of opera, soprano Jenny Miller who, with the brilliant Thai pianist, Peerapong Surawan, produced a perfect blend.

Panga Vathanakul, managing director of the Royal Cliff welcomed her personal guests of honor, the Russian Ambassador to Thailand H.E. Yevgdny V. Anasiev and his charming wife, who were delighted with the evening.

Many hearts went out to Jenny as she laughed, played and cried.

Of course, it was the Royal Cliff and, as could be expected, the evening was preceded by a great four-course dinner, prepared by Walter Thenisch and his team of experts.

Royal Cliff deputy managing director, Ranjith Chandrasiri welcomed the many guests and thanked the sponsors, Pattaya Mail, Pattaya Blatt and, of course, the Royal Cliff who had made the evening possible.

A magnificent moving performance by Jenny and David.

The singers opened with the ever-popular “Drinking Song” from Verdi’s La Traviata, more than 100 years old, first presented in Venice in 1853. I’ll drink to that!

Then followed a mini-opereatta, “Voi Lo Sapete”, a soprano aria from Jenny, from Cavalliera Rusticana, also a century old, followed by a soprano’s aria “Voi Lo sapete” of Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusiticana with David finding his incredible range, going tenor for a rendition of “Vesti la Giubba” from I Pagliacci.

Then a duet in French mesmerized the audience as the couple sang and acted out a scene from Bizet’s Carmen, in two arias, finishing with the emotive “Flower Song” (“La fleur que tu m’avais jetee”).

Of course, no evening of opera could be complete without the heart-rending love duet “Vogliatemi bene” from Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, with Jenny very convincing as Cio-Cio–San, complete with kimono. First performed in Milan in 1904, at 101 years old, this was the ‘baby’ of the programme.

Ranjith Chandarasiri, Panga Vathankul, Peter Malhotra and Alexander Haeusler congratulate and thank the stars for their extraordinary performances.

After an intermission, Jenny and David acted out scenes from Act II, with Jenny’s rendition of the aria “Ecco l’orrido campo” from Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera, followed by the love duet “Ma dall’arido stelo, Teco io sto! Gran Dio!”

Puccini’s immortal Tosca was next, featuring David as the tragic Mario and Jenny as the equally tragic Flora Tosca. The aria “E lucevan le stele” signifies Mario’s incarceration and, when Flora ‘breaks in’ to the prison, the love duet “Ah, Franchigia a Floria Tosca, nuvole leggere” was so moving that there was total silence in the audience – not even the rustle of clothing.

“Nessun Dorma” from Puccini‘s “Turandot”, set in the Forbidden City in China, and the final duet, “Love Unspoken” from Lehar’s “The Merry Widow” brought the audience to its feet, with curtain calls and several songs not on the programme, finishing the splendid evening with “Bess, you are my woman now” (a duet in English), from Gershwin’s Broadway hit, “Porgy and Bess”.

At the end of the concert, MD Panga presented a typical Thai appreciation of floral bouquets to the three artists and a token of appreciation to Peter Malhotra, managing director of the Pattaya Mail Publishing Company, for his support.

Thus, the final curtain came down on yet another great cultural event. As the old adage goes, the people of Pattaya, Jomtien and the Eastern Seaboard, voted “with their feet” by attending this beautiful evening, holding out the promise of more such events.