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The Metropolitan Opera’s annual Onstage at the Met gala is one of the company’s most glamorous fund-raisers, bringing out top corporate sponsors and stars of big business who open their pockets to support the most famous opera house in the world. Onstage at the Met is just what it sounds like, a huge party on the opera’s vast stage with hundreds of guests treading the very boards where some of the greatest singers in history have thrilled audiences through the years.

This year’s gala was especially glittering, starting with the incredible array of enormous chandeliers hanging overhead, crystal monuments of every shape, size and vintage, all chosen from the Met’s elaborate productions through the years: “La Traviata,” “Don Giovanni,” “Der Rosenkavalier,” “Pique Dame,” “Un Ballo in Maschera,” “Otello,” “Arabella,” “Die Fledermaus,” “Manon” and “Boris Godunov.” What a brilliant idea! What could be more grand opera!

This story first appeared in the March 31, 2004 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

This year’s gala dinner honored William C. Weldon, the chairman and chief executive of Johnson & Johnson. The dinner chairmen were Klaus Kleinfeld of Siemens AG; Hank Paulson, chairman and ceo of Goldman Sachs, and David J. O’Reilly, chairman and ceo of Chevron Texaco. The dinner raised $1.3 million for the opera.

After cocktails on the opera house’s tiers, the on-stage guests dined on lobster, rack of lamb and warm chocolate souffléd cake catered by Glorious Food and danced to music by Michael Carney and his orchestras. The tables, seating 500 in all, were as glittering as the chandeliers. Bill Tansey created the centerpieces, vibrant displays of tropical foliage, in tall crystal vases surrounded by French tulips, hydrangea, vibernum and Dutch sweet peas in shades of spring green and white. The table linens — cerise, lime green and white — were each covered with a matching organza overlay shimmering with pailletes. Many of the guests thought it was the most beautiful onstage gala ever, with much of the credit going as ever to the incredible Cecile Zilkha, the Met’s gala event chairman, who is a genius at running the show and who looked superb in a gold brocade jacket by Lacroix and black chiffon pants. The glorious Welsh bass-baritone, Bryn Terfel, sang during dinner.

And this is who was there: Our U.N. Ambassador and Mrs. John Negroponte; Count and Countess Arco; Dr. James Billington, who is the Librarian of Congress; Bessie de Cuevas; Carolina and Reinaldo Herrera; Marta Istomin; the Met chairman Beverly Sills; Doda Voridis; Ezra Zilkha; Bettina Zilkha; Ambassador Jean de Ruyt; Spanish Consul General and Mrs. Ricardo Duque; Anna and William Mann; Mr. and Mrs. Peter John Goulandris; Anna Moffo, opera singer of yore; Casey Ribicoff; HRH Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein and HRH Princess Sarah of Jordan; the Honorable and Mrs. Edward Ney; Kathleen Hearst; Duane Hampton; Lally Weymouth, and on and on into the night.

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Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece and his stylish wife, Princess Marie-Chantal, and their three children — aged seven, five and three — are looking forward to another little prince or princess this September. The baby, who should arrive right in the middle of the Olympic Games, fits into the couple’s plans for a large family. Give them a gold medal because they deserve it. They are so missed in New York, where beautiful couples in the social swim with growing families are as rare as rubies. The child’s grandparents, King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece, are equally thrilled. The news has been cause for rejoicing from London to Athens to Palm Beach, where the royal family’s cousin, Crown Princess Katherine of Yugoslavia, whose husband is Yugoslavia’s Crown Prince Alexander II, was the guest of honor at a concert given by her friend, pianist Marina Arsenijevic at the home of Andrea Stark.

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Daryl Hannah is telling anybody who cares to listen — and the list is growing shorter and shorter — that she loves to jog in the nude. “It’s not like I throw off my clothes and start running out of control,” she confesses. “But, basically, we’re all apes, right?” Speak for yourself, Daryl.

Along with liking to be unfettered whenever possible if it’s a beautiful day, Daryl says she wants to have a baby, and at age 44, she doesn’t think it’s too late. “I’d be happy if I got pregnant tomorrow. I have 31 nephews and nieces and I’ve been at seven births of my sister’s and best friends’. It’s definitely something I’d like to do.” No news as to what her new boyfriend, Sean McPherson, thinks about this. We can wait if he can.

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Ashley Judd may not have raised her voice in song before, but she does her voice-raising mother, Naomi, and her sister, Wynonna, proud in “De-lovely,” the MGM musical about famous songwriter Cole Porter’s public life — and secret life too — to be released on July 2. Kevin Kline stars as Cole and Ashley plays his beautiful wife and muse, Linda Lee Porter. Ashley and Kevin sing a duet — “In the Still of the Night” — and she warbles “True Love” on her own. The movie is filled with extravagant production numbers as the lead character looks back on his life as if it were one of his spectacular stage shows. Natalie Cole, Sheryl Crow, Diana Krall, Elvis Costello, Alanis Morissette and Robbie Williams also sing their hearts out in the elaborate production.

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Gillian Hearst-Shaw and Annie Churchill have banded together to form a clothing company called Angel. The girls, along with designers Zang Toi and Marc Bouwer, will give a birthday dinner for Guess and Victoria’s Secret star Larissa Bond at Chelsea hot spot Sette, followed by more undercover adventures next door at Viscaya, all this on April 8. Matthew David and Bentley Meeker will create a night of high glamour and mystery around a 007 theme. So it will be a night inspired by the James Bond classic “Goldfinger,” with such guests as Amanda Hearst, Nicholas Raynes, Lauren Bush, Elizabeth Kieselstein-Cord, Topper and Tinsley Mortimer and Oliver Hammond with his girlfriend Lydia Hearst-Shaw. They have been asked to dress like secret agents or Bond girls.

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Elle Macpherson, who turned 40 on Monday, is busier than ever. She looks great but doesn’t do much modeling these days, what with her kiddies, Flynn, 6, and Aurelius, 1, offspring of her companion, Arpad Busson, clinging to her miniskirt. But Elle does run a lingerie company called Elle Intimates and is getting ready to launch a cosmetics line. And she has just landed a role on “Joey,” Matt LeBlanc’s TV spin-off of “Friends” due to premiere this fall. She will reprise her recurring role as Janine Lecroix, a friend of a friend, so to speak. She and her agents are pursuing movie offers with her appearances in “Sirens” and “Batman & Robin” to recommend her. Forty is the new 20. That is, if you look like Elle.

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