Scene in D.C.: Russian Pepsi, Arab Art, Legislator Dance

1812 Gala
An actor playing Napoleon Bonaparte greeted guests as they entered the Russian Embassy. Photographer: Stephanie Green/Bloomberg

Guests were transported to 1812 last night at the Russian Embassy. Tchaikovsky’s overture echoed down the red carpet leading to where Napoleon Bonaparte awaited arrivals.

“1812 Gala: The Anthem, The Overture, and Salute to Diplomacy” was hosted by the American-Russian Cultural Cooperation Foundation, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The foundation honored former PepsiCo Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Donald Kendall, who introduced Pepsi Cola to Russians more than 50 years ago.

PepsiCo, DirecTV, and Abbott Laboratories were among the evening’s sponsors.

Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak welcomed guests into the romantic Golden Hall with its six chandeliers and floor-to-ceiling mirrors. A dinner of lobster, Chateaubriand beef and chocolate torte Napoleon was served with Russian Standard Vodka and Veuve Clicquot.

The night was a remembrance of the bicentennial of the wars of 1812 in Russia and the U.S.

John Quincy Adams, the former president and first American envoy to Russia, regaled guests with anecdotes from his time in St. Petersburg in the early 19th century. He was portrayed by former U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle.

Guests left with Russian Pepsi bottles and commemorative 1812 plates.

Arabian Roads

Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia attended a reception last night at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.

He cut the ribbon for “Roads of Arabia: Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” The exhibit opens Saturday for its North American premiere.

The prince is the president and chief executive of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities. His elegant son, Prince Salman bin Salman, and Saudi Arabian Ambassador Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir greeted guests. Others in attendance included Gamal Helal, president of Helal Enterprises, and Ahmed Alzayyat, president of Aramco Services Co.

Baku Friends

Representative Dan Burton, Indiana Republican, ended up on stage with the dancers at the Azerbaijan America Alliance gala on Wednesday night.

“A Night in Washington with Friends From Baku” was held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center and featured a five-course Azerbaijani meal. Performers from the Natig Rhythm Group offered incessant drumbeats.

“You have to try this too,” said Burton to no one in particular as he was brought to the stage by what looked like a golden genie. There he got into the spirit, along with Representative Ruben Hinojosa, Texas Democrat and member of the Financial Services Committee.

Before the legislators turned terpsichorean, Burton testified to the beauty of Baku, recalling his trips there as chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe and Eurasia.

At the VIP reception, House Speaker John Boehner and Republican senators Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Richard Burr of North Carolina sipped cocktails with Azerbaijani Ambassador Elin Suleymanov and Anar Mammadov, the alliance’s founder.

Mammadov started the alliance last year to increase awareness of his country and encourage visitors from the U.S.

(Stephanie Green is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

Muse highlights include Katya Kazakina on auctions, Jeremy Gerard on theater.

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