OPERA TAKES OFF: Aspen has long been a destination for the jet set, and now Harley Baldwin, Aspen’s unofficial ambassador, has upped the resort town’s glamour quotient by instituting an annual opera gala. Among the 200 expected guests at Monday night’s first NetJets Opera Gala are Queen Noor, Mercedes Bass, Carolyne Roehm and Evelyn and Leonard Lauder. The evening will kick off with cocktails on the terrace of Baldwin’s 6,000-square-foot apartment overlooking Aspen Mountain, to be followed by a performance of Verdi’s “Rigoletto” at the 19th-century opera house and dinner at the Caribou Club, which Baldwin owns. “Hiking boots to dancing pumps in this town is not insane,” insists Baldwin, who adds the audience is in for a surprise during the first act — an appearance by him in a dancing scene.

HORSE PLAY: Marylou Whitney didn’t arrive by pumpkin cart or hot air balloon, as she has in years past, to her annual Whitney Gala, held at the Canfield Casino in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. But Whitney and husband John Hendrickson immediately got into the evening’s “Night in Mexico” theme with sombreros and followed a burro, a mariachi band and Mexican dancers into the crowd of 400, which included star horse trainer Nick Zito, Susan Lucci, Sheryl Schwartz and Phyllis George.

This story first appeared in the August 12, 2004 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

It’s been a banner year for the couple, who won the Belmont Stakes with their horse, Birdstone, over Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones. Hendrickson knew little about racing and breeding when he met Whitney 11 years ago at a dinner party in Alaska. Today, he is a superb horseman. “I try to get results and I try to connect the dots. I have a boss from 9 to 5,” he said. “After 5, I’m the boss.”

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