Thursday, July 21, 2022

Thrilling New Style and Design Book: ‘French Chateau Style Inside France’s Most Exquisite Country Houses’ by Catherine Scotto and with photography by Marie Pierre Morel

Welcome to The Style Saloniste, now celebrating its fifteenth year.

This has been an exciting trip—and on Travels with THE STYLE SALONISTE, I’ve taken you with me to rare places like Jaipur and Chettinad, as well as Paris and London and Sicily (Noto, Siracusa) and Rome and Naples and Venice and Brazil and Ecuador and Peru. And to Morocco (La Mamounia and Royal Mansour) …New York, Delhi and of course, Egypt. Great Egypt. Sailing on the Nile on SS Sudan.

Fourteen Years and Counting
I wish to send special thanks and gratitude to art director BRIAN DITTMAR, who has teamed with me from the start to create THE STYLE SALONISTE.

I am the writer, editor, fact-checker, photo editor, factotum, and founder. Brian first created the elegant and timeless header/logo that still looks classic—and each week his beautiful art direction makes my text and photos look chic and crisp and beautifully cohesive and balanced. Thank you, Brian. Your design judgment is impeccable. It has been a great pleasure and an exciting adventure working with you … with many more years and posts and ideas together. Long may we continue this journey and exploration. 

Thank you. And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @dianedorranssaeks


Now, on to ‘French Chateau Style Inside France’s Most Exquisite Country Houses’ ...

This poetic and superbly produced book has just been published by Prestel, and it is gorgeous.

This is definitely a book to treasure. It is the newest French style/ design/interiors reference book, inspiration book and a dream travel book, all in one. Most impressive. 

Thirteen ultra-stylish and historic chateaus/ private residences are arrayed in this beautiful book. Each one represents a different style, a dramatic location, a joyful and/or tragic story, and a novelistic ending of renewal, restoration, repair and regeneration. These are beauties from among the purported 44,000 heritage chateaus and sites in France that were in danger of disappearing in a cloud of dust.

Each one of these ravishingly beautiful chateaus…in locations as far-flung as Normandy, Provence, the Loir, the Loire, the romantic Auvergne, the valley of the Garonne, Les Landes, Burgundy, near Mont-Saint-Michel, and the Midi…has an inspiring story. Some have remained in the same family. Others have been saved from certain ruin.

These bold and elegant chateaux (so different from those that are flung open every day as a tourist attraction) are quiet and private and thus intriguing and inspiring. They are all styles, all sizes from grand to petite, and their interiors reflect their times and their origins.

One thing these chateaus do have in common—most of the creative and passionate owners are interior designers, architects, artists, jewelry designers, antique dealers (most of them)…. and they have all been restored and updated sensitively, with style galore.

And you will love the residence of English fashion designer Peter Copping and his partner. His is the most cosy and decorated of all…very compelling. Very charming.

I love them all.

Most of the owners protect and treasure the privacy of their own domains, and few are open to the public. (Some open one day a year…for example.)

Some chateaux in the book started life as mediaeval fortresses. Others from the eighteenth century had more noble origins. Some were family residences of country grandees, while others were collectors who avidly decorated and painted and embellished their large-scale rooms and stone floors. Some have working kitchens, and others are works in progress.

French Chateau Style

Catherine Scotto’s excellent text (beautifully translated from French by Conor Biggs) includes endless information on the history of each chateau, and how and when and why the current owners threw caution to the winds and undertook years of repair and restoration.

And you meet these owners, who are fascinating, voluble and highly motivated.

It’s useful to find the list of chateaus at the back of the book. There are addresses and contacts. As it happens, some are open in summer for guided tours, while others may offer room or studio rentals for artists. One has a rose garden open for six weeks in the spring, while others are not open at all.

Look for all the authentic décor, design and improvisation with art in each room. There are traditional fabrics, tapestries, and rugs.

This is a beautiful, soulful book.

It’s already in #mylifetimelibrary

To acquire this book, check with your local independent bookshops, as well as amazon and other sites. I love to support small privately owned bookshops and always buy books from my treasured local bookshops. If they do not currently stock it, they can easily and quickly order it for you.


‘French Chateau Style Inside France’s Most Exquisite Country Houses’ by Catherine Scotto and with photography by Marie Pierre Morel is published by Prestel Publishing.

Follow along on Instagram: 

I hope you are following me: @dianedorranssaeks

Prestel: @prestel_publishing

Catherine Scotto, the author: @catherinescotto_decositter

Marie Pierre Morel, the photographer: @mariepierremorel

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Travels with The Style Saloniste: Jordan Winery, Alexander Valley

Escape to the California Wine Country: Chic new French guest suites by San Francisco interior designer Maria Khoury Haidamus offer luxury and calm repose.

The Chêne suite is enhanced by antique French furniture acquired by Sally Jordan in the seventies. Chairs were reupholstered in Mokum velvet. Lavish curtains are in a Loro Piana wool, trimmed with Houlès braid. The Mallorquina bed is by Alfonso Marina. The dramatic plaster walls and barrel vault ceiling were handcrafted by Kraftwerk, Santa Rosa.

Come with me this week to one of the most beautiful, private and discreet hideaways in the wine country. Prvately-owned Jordan Winery is situated elegantly among vineyards and miles of wild forests and ancient California oaks and manzanitas just north of Healdsburg. The winery stands at the crown of a hill, surveying the valley and miles of California beauty.

Jordan Winery is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary, very impressive. This is the perfect time to visit, perhaps for a delightful lunch on the terrace, followed by a lovely quiet evening, with the new guest suites a perfect escape.

In the suite bathroom, dramatic sepia Iksel wallpaper depicts an Italian panorama. The double washstand was custom-made. Handcrafted herringbone floor tiles are by Fireclay in central California. The pendant is by Remains lighting. 

Dramatic lined and interlined curtains of Dedar wool are trimmed with an Houlès border. The window seat is upholstered in a Pierre Frey fabric.

Jordan Winery had a shimmering, powerful beginning.

French elegance, hospitality and style have been at the heart of Jordan Winery since it was founded by John and Sally Jordan in northern Sonoma County in 1972.

Sally is a life-long Francophile who admired the grand historic interiors of Bordeaux and Burgundy. She was passionate about the delights of French cuisine, especially when enjoyed with Jordan Winery's award-winning Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Her vision was that guests would be welcomed in spacious French-style suites, with chef-created dining, and rooms of comfort and delight. Jordan wines would be presented and enjoyed within this unique framework.

The couple hired San Francisco architect Bob Arrigoni to create a country chateau devoted to winemaking and entertaining. Included in the plan were three private guest suites overlooking lavish gardens and surrounded by magnolia, olive, persimmon, and sycamore trees and massive centuries-old oaks. A romantic etching of Arrigoni’s masterpiece is on each wine label.

Sally planned the interiors in a grand scale, their boldness emphasized by massive ceiling beams, soaring ceilings, and handsome stone fireplaces. And there was a special surprise for wine enthusiasts: interior French doorways with balconies are poised above views directly into the highly theatrical (and fragrant) barrel rooms.

To furnish the suites, Sally spent several years traveling in France to source noble 18th-century armoires, antique wing chairs, and charming handcrafted occasional tables that give each room individuality and character.

Owner John Jordan decided that with the winery closed to visitors, this year would be an ideal time to refresh and refurbish the suites. San Francisco interior designer, Maria Khoury Haidamus, admired for her knowledge of classic European interiors, was commissioned to update the three suites, now known as Cepage, Vendange, and Chêne.

Peter Fasano ‘Meadow’ wallpaper with a romantic muted wildflower pattern brings the leafy outdoor landscape into a very stylized bathroom design concept. The bed is by Baker. Original hexagonal Provencal terra cotta tiles installed by Sally Jordan were refinished, refreshed, buffed, and given a natural matte glaze. 

A traditional Drummonds soaking tub is framed by a marble embellished wainscot designed by Maria Haidamus.

“My concept from the start was to proceed with great respect for the legacy of Sally Jordan’s original classic French interiors. We wanted to maintain a similar bold scale, this time with a more neutral palette,” said Haidamus, who engaged many northern California sources and specialists to realize the scheme.

“Throughout the project, which took eight months, we celebrated and honored the landscape and the setting in the wine country,” said Haidamus. “We stayed true to our insistence on authenticity with all materials and furnishings. Everything is true to the Jordan aesthetic.”

The designer devised a new color scheme to bring the rooms into the present, paying homage to the landscape of Alexander Valley and the rich soil and rock outcrops of Jordan Winery. She selected natural fabrics in soothing tones of moss, sepia, oak leaf green, sage, and pale taupe.

Working closely with Tony Kitz Gallery, she created a collection of antique carpets and rugs from Turkey, Persia and Morocco. In harmony with the country aesthetic, rugs are in traditional patterns and a soft palette of slate blue, muted burgundy, agate green, some crafted with natural dyes.

Designer Maria Haidamus chose a series of DeSinone-Wayland plates that depict Seine River scenes on antique ceramic designs. The antique hand-carved table was acquired in Bordeaux.

The Vendange living room includes French doors that open to offer a view into the grand winery barrel room. The beamed 19-foot high ceilings and massive central beams, original to the architecture, were given a fresh more pronounced dark finish.

A neoclassical bed by Alfonso Marina from Hewn has subtle gilded details. Blue pillows display Fortuny fabrics. The original French wing chairs were re-upholstered in Mokum grey velvet. Through the French doors the barrel room is visible. 

In addition to tasting Jordan wines, guests enjoy all the pleasures of the vast property. There are pollinator sanctuaries, the apiary, and an enclosed garden with a selection of English-style David Austin roses, a lake, and the chef’s organic vegetable garden.

Breakfast delivered to the suite, or served on the terrace, includes French pastries from Red Bird Bakery in Cotati, house-made confitures, and winery-crafted wild tisanes. Rose and verbena, fresh from the garden, is one exclusive tisane creation. Lunch outdoors includes Parisian-style charcuterie and salads by Chef de Cuisine Jonathan Musto and other culinary talents of the region.

In the evening, surrounded by deep silence, guests can dream that they are indeed in France. They can thank Sally Jordan, her son John Jordan, and now Maria Khoury Haidamus, for their reverie.


R. Brad Knipstein, San Francisco
1474 Alexander Valley Road
Healdsburg, California.

Photo by Diane Dorrans Saeks

Friday, June 10, 2022

San Francisco Opera Summer Season: The Brilliant and Highly Artistic Program Continues with ‘Dream Of The Red Chamber’

San Francisco Opera (now launching a celebration of its hundredth year) has created a wonderfully engaging summer season of two operas, ‘Don Giovanni’ and up next, “Dream of the Red Chamber’ which opens this week.

‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ based on an admired classic of Chinese literature from the 18th century, was first presented by San Francisco Opera in 2016, when it was highly praised and enthusiastically received. It will run this summer at the War Memorial Opera House from June 14—July 3.

Konu Kim as Bai Yu and dancers in an early rehearsal of Bright Sheng's Dream of the Red Chamber — photo Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Soprano Meigui Zhang as Dai Yu in an early rehearsal of Bright Sheng's Dream of the Red Chamber — photo Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera 

Bright Sheng and David Henry Hwang’s opera returns in acclaimed production by director Stan Lai, Academy Award-Winning production designer Tim Yip and lighting designer Gary Marder. It’s an exquisite production that presents palaces and battles and bamboo forests and lakes and private interiors of great intimacy, detail and poetry and heightened authenticity.

Soprano Meigui Zhang as Dai Yu in an early rehearsal of Bright Sheng's Dream of the Red Chamber — photo Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera 

Soprano Meigui Zhang as Dai Yu in an early rehearsal of Bright Sheng's Dream of the Red Chamber — photo Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera 

‘Dream of the Red Chamber

The source novel for Dream of the Red Chamber is arguably comparable in Chinese culture to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in the West. It is widely known and continues to exert a powerful influence on romantic storytelling. The plot of the opera centers around the predestined soulmates Bao Yu, scion of the illustrious Jia family, and the brilliant but frail Dai Yu. Their union is complicated by a scheme to marry Bao Yu to the wealthy Bao Chai of the Xue family.

Soprano Meigui Zhang as Dai Yu in an early rehearsal of Bright Sheng's Dream of the Red Chamber — photo Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera 

Soprano Meigui Zhang as Dai Yu in an early rehearsal of Bright Sheng's Dream of the Red Chamber — photo Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera 

Born in Shanghai shortly before China’s Cultural Revolution, Bright Sheng is one of today’s foremost living composers who, as the MacArthur Foundation proclaimed, “merges diverse musical customs in works that transcend conventional aesthetic boundaries.”

Of his score for Dream of the Red Chamber, the Los Angeles Times observed, “He uses brass, winds and percussion (Western and Chinese) in original and highly imaginative ways.

Pitches bend in ways that sound almost acrobatically impossible. Chinese folk tunes get transformed into rapturously expressive new music, gorgeously colored.” Playwright David Henry Hwang, acclaimed for his many award-winning plays (Chinglish, M. Butterfly) and operatic collaborations (Philip Glass’ The Voyage, Unsuk Chin’s Alice in Wonderland, Howard Shore’s The Fly, Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar and the forthcoming world premiere at Santa Fe Opera of Huang Ruo’s M. Butterfly), worked closely with Sheng on the work’s libretto, creating a three-hour opera from a vast literary epic.

World-renowned theater artist Stan Lai (Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land) returns to direct what the San Francisco Chronicle hailed “a magnificent production.”

The sets and costumes by Academy Award-winning designer Tim Yip (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) created opulent stage pictures, including an “amazing system of backdrops that rise and fall on cue, weaving together bits of rolling Chinese landscape in ways that are both literal and abstract” (Opera News) and lighting designer Gary Marder “bedecks the stage in vivid ornament while maintaining a suitably dreamlike atmosphere” (San Francisco Chronicle).

Guang Yang as Aunt Xue in an early rehearsal of Dream of the Red Chamber — photo Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Francis Jue as the Monk (standing) and Konu Kim as Bao Yu (kneeling) in an early rehearsal of Bright Sheng's Dream of the Red Chamber — photo Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

The genesis of Dream of the Red Chamber began when Pearl Lam Bergad, executive director of the Minneapolis-based Chinese Heritage Foundation, approached then-San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley in 2013 about producing an opera based on the novel. From the beginning, this musical and lyric setting of the timeless Chinese love story was to have an English libretto so it would be readily accessible to non-Chinese speakers. Sheng and Hwang’s opera became the first in San Francisco Opera history to feature bilingual supertitles with text in both English and traditional Chinese.

San Francisco Opera’s Dream of the Red Chamber (2016) ©Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

San Francisco Opera’s Dream of the Red Chamber (2016) ©Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

San Francisco Opera’s Dream of the Red Chamber (2016) ©Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

I hope to see my friends there. It runs over three hours, and I wish it were longer. It’s one of my favorite productions, and I’m so happy that it has been so enthusiastically received by diverse communities and opera lovers internationally. Bravo, SFOpera. Bravo, General Director, Matthew Shilvock.

San Francisco Opera’s Dream of the Red Chamber (2016) ©Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

About the San Francisco Opera: New Ideas and New Works

San Francisco Opera’s Instigators  
Ever evolving and updating, under the direction of Matthew Shilvock, San Francisco Opera will launch a new program in 2022 to pioneer new directions in opera. Instigators brings together bold innovators from outside the world of opera to envision future directions for the art form.

The Company will welcome cohorts of individuals from a diverse range of artistic and technological fields into a creative laboratory designed to provoke and expand the boundaries of the art form. The team will explore new ways to create and experience opera.

Since presenting Puccini’s then still-new triptych Il Trittico in its inaugural season of 1923, San Francisco Opera has been an exponent of new music and home for dramatic stories by contemporary artists. The Company has presented the American premieres of works by many twentieth century masters, including Francis Poulenc, Richard Strauss, Benjamin Britten, Maurice Ravel, Dmitri Shostakovich, Leoš Janáček, Olivier Messiaen and György Ligeti. Since 1961, the Company has been committed to commissioning new operas from living composers and presenting the world premieres of works by John Adams, Jake Heggie, Philip Glass, André Previn, Bright Sheng and others. 

War Memorial Opera House — photo by John Boatwright

For Tickets and Information

The San Francisco Opera Box Office is located at 301 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco
Telephone (415) 864-3330.

San Francisco Opera Box Office hours are: 
Monday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m.–6 p.m. (Saturdays phone only)

Monday, June 6, 2022

San Francisco Opera Summer Season 2022 Opens with Two New Productions

Two new and stunning productions for June performances: Don Giovanni and Dream of the Red Chamber will be presented.

I am so excited. Summer opera in San Francisco is on again. San Francisco Opera, one of the greatest (and oldest) opera companies in the world, is presenting two new and dramatic and powerful operas. And this year SAN FRANCISCO OPERA will be starting celebrating its centennial. One hundred years.

I love the two summer productions—Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and the highly dramatic Dream of the Red Chamber, by a team of fantastic creators, based on a classic of Chinese literature.

Act II sextet with Christina Gansch (Zerlina), Adela Zaharia (Donna Anna), Nicole Car (Donna Elvira), Amitai Pati (Don Ottavio), Luca Pisaroni (Leporello - disguised as Don Giovanni), and Cody Quattlebaum (Masetto) in Mozart's "Don Giovanni."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Act I finale of Mozart's "Don Giovanni."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

San Francisco Opera opens its 2022 Summer Season with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Don Giovanni from June 4–July 2 at the War Memorial Opera House.

Don Giovanni follows the titular Don, a nobleman whose womanizing and self-interest lead to a fiery retribution.

Witty, darkly humorous and filled with exuberant melodic invention, the opera reveals the 31-year-old Mozart at a creative peak.

Etienne Dupuis as Don Giovanni and Luca Pisaroni as Leporello in Mozart's "Don Giovanni."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Etienne Dupuis as Don Giovanni and Adela Zaharia as Donna Anna in Mozart's "Don Giovanni."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Luca Pisaroni as Leporello and Christina Gansch as Zerlina in Mozart's "Don Giovanni."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Etienne Dupuis as the title role in Mozart's "Don Giovanni."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Parisian conductor Bertrand de Billy conducts the 1788 version of the score, where Mozart added arias and made other changes for the work’s presentation in Vienna six months after its first performances in Prague.

In his first performances since joining the Company in January, San Francisco Opera’s Chorus Director John Keene prepares the Opera Chorus.

Luca Pisaroni as Leporello and Nicole Car as Donna Elvira in Mozart's "Don Giovanni."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Etienne Dupuis as the title role in Mozart's "Don Giovanni."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Nicole Car as Donna Elvira and Etienne Dupuis as the title role in Mozart's "Don Giovanni."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Etienne Dupuis as the title role in Mozart's "Don Giovanni."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Director Michael Cavanagh’s new production is the third and final chapter of San Francisco Opera’s multi-year Mozart-Da Ponte Trilogy, presenting all three operatic collaborations by Mozart and poet Lorenzo Da Ponte within the same American house setting at different points over a 300-year span. 

Bertrand de Billy (conductor) Photo: Marco Borggreve


Conductor Bertrand de Billy makes his Company debut leading an international cast headed by Etienne Dupuis as Don Giovanni, Adela Zaharia as Donna Anna, and Nicole Car as Donna Elvira, all in Company debuts, with Christina Gansch, Luca Pisaroni, Amitai Pati, Cody Quattlebaum and Soloman Howard.

The Mozart-Da Ponte Trilogy launched in 2019 with the popular and critically praised production of The Marriage of Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro) set in America’s early postcolonial period when the American house setting and the nation itself were newly founded.

The narrative arc continued in November 2021 with Così fan tutte, in which Cavanagh’s “richly inventive touch” (San Francisco Chronicle) moved the action to the 1930s where the house has been converted into a country club and the characters find themselves at moral crossroads.

Christina Gansch as Zerlina and Cody Quattlebaum as Masetto in Mozart's "Don Giovanni."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Nicole Car as Donna Elvira and Etienne Dupuis as the title role in Mozart's "Don Giovanni."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Amitai Pati as Don Ottavio, Adela Zaharia as Donna Anna, and Soloman Howard as the Commendatore in Mozart's "Don Giovanni."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera


The director and his creative team of set and projection designer Erhard Rom, costume designer Constance Hoffman and lighting designer Jane Cox conclude their vision for the trilogy with Don Giovanni, set 150 years after the previous installment in an uncertain future where the house and society are crumbling.

Cavanagh said: “When we charted the Great American House journey, we deliberately stretched our timeline to demonstrate the universality and timelessness of the common themes in these amazing works.”

War Memorial Opera House Exterior. Photo by Joel Puliatti.


Tickets for Don Giovanni are available at the San Francisco Opera Box Office, by phone at (415) 864-3330 and online at

The San Francisco Opera Box Office window is located in the Opera House at 301 Van Ness Avenue.

San Francisco Opera requires all patrons aged 12 and older, who are eligible, to show proof of vaccination and booster shot/s along with a photo ID for admission to performances at the War Memorial Opera House.

All patrons must wear well-fitted masks that cover their nose, mouth and chin when inside the War Memorial Opera House unless they are actively eating or drinking.

For complete information about the Company’s health and safety protocols, visit

All casting, programs, schedules and ticket prices are subject to change.

For further information about San Francisco Opera’s 2021–22 Season, visit

Luca Pisaroni as Leporello in Mozart's "Don Giovanni."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera