Opening night at the Met, the most magnificent opera house in the world! Glamour! Glitter! Big names! Big stars! A full house! Not a seat left! Several million raised!
And that’s the great news because money, money, money makes the Met go around. And this grand gala night is one of the Met’s biggest fund-raisers, from the $2,850 tickets (that includes a cast supper, so come on) to the $75 ones sold for seats on high in the top-most tiers. This is where the most ardent music lovers are said to sit, but I don’t know. The other night, everyone in the place looked like an ardent music lover to me.
Lifted in song from the Met’s vast stage were glorious voices, from Bryn Terfel singing “Figaro” in Act I of Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro” as well as the odious Scarpia in Act II of Puccini’s “Tosca” (with a beautiful Angela Gheorghiu performing the leading role) to the great Placido Domingo and Denyce Graves singing “Samson et Delila” in the last act of the Saint-Saëns’ great drama. There was a little something for everyone, with James Levine conducting the orchestra as only James Levine can. The chairmen of the gala evening were Mercedes and Sid Bass, Chris and Bruce Crawford, the William B. Ziff Jrs. and Cecile and Ezra Zilkha. The couture-clad, black-tied people who paid the most money — isn’t that always the way? — sat down to a Glorious Food supper of gravlax topped with artichoke hearts topped with caviar, quail and pheasant ragout and grilled peaches with peach sorbet at tables covered with cloths of black cherry and paprika satin and centered with roses of many colors, dahlias and coxcombs set on pedestals. (When was the last time you sat at a table with coxcombs? Me, too.)
Cecile Zilkha, the Met’s vice chairman, just back from Europe, wore a coral pleated chiffon with diamonds and looked radiant. In her box was the Secretary of the United Nations and Mrs. Kofi Annan; the exotic Albina du Boisrouvray, the South American heiress and philanthropist, and Susan and William McDonough.
This story first appeared in the September 21, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Mercedes Bass, in the Bass box just in from Texas with Sid, wore a white strapless Vera Wang with a lace overlay and emeralds. Others in the box were Elaine and James Wolfensohn; the British heiress and also philanthropist Vivienne Duffield; Barbara Walters in black silk and paillettes and dazzling earrings she bought in India, and Marie Josée and Henry Kravis, who were just back from Paris and the Arnault wedding.
Mingling on the parterre were Sean Connery (that Sean Connery) in a Black Watch tartan rig with a black shirt and tie. Quite a sight was he. With him was his wife, Micheline, in a black tuxedo, a white satin blouse, a black velvet bow tie, a diamond brooch and a gumball pearl necklace. Then there were David Rockefeller; the one and only Rudy Giuliani and his adorable wife, Judy, in a strapless black gold rust and copper-colored ball gown by Oscar de la Renta; Beverly Sills; Mary and Frank Bennack Jr.; Patty and Gustavo Cisneros, with their lovely daughter, Adriana, and her husband, Nicholas Griffin; Marta Domingo; Norma Hess; Brooke Duchin; Shirley Lord Rosenthal; the wonderful Rise Stevens, once a great star at the Met and opera houses all over the world, who is now celebrating her 92nd birthday; Elaine Sargent; Marnie Pillsbury; Marlene Hess and another of the Met’s famous stars, Dwayne Croft with Karin Cooper, and the Met’s general manager, Joseph Volpe, and Mrs. Volpe. It was a dazzlement. Oh, and the Met Opera is pleased to salute Deutsche Bank in recognition of its generous support during the 2005-2006 season.
In another part of the forest, you will be thrilled to hear that Kate Moss is said to have escaped from her highly controversial week by going to visit Jade Jagger at her villa on Ibiza. The secluded estate is on the north end of the Spanish island and security guards have been hired to keep the paparazzi and the press at bay. It is said Kate needs time to collect her thoughts and plan her future. I’ll say. With endorsement deals collapsing and fashion magazines refusing to book her for shoots, her family, her friends and her mother are pressing her to go back into rehab and seek the help she so obviously needs.
The late media mogul Malcolm Forbes’ daughter, Moira Forbes Mumma, hosts a benefit for The Community Coalition, the organization she founded to help the homeless. It will be at the Forbes Magazine Galleries on Fifth Avenue on Thursday and the evening is cochaired by Allison Weiss. A portion of the proceeds will help victims of Hurricane Katrina. Good girls do good things.