Byline: Aileen Mehle

In spite of those pictures in the Paris press of Princess Caroline of Monaco’s long-time sweetie, French actor Vincent Lindon, quietly moving his effects out of her Paris flat, some people will tell you she threw him out and there was nothing friendly about it. Maybe the excuse is a photograph of Lindon in the paper taken with a minor French starlet, but not really. The new love of Princess Caroline’s life is Prince Ernst of Hanover, said to have separated from his wife, Princess Chantal. Caroline and Ernst have traveled together to such faraway climes as Melbourne and Qatar. Naturally, Prince Rainier is not amused — he so seldom is — at the newest scandal in the family. He is said to have asked his daughter to stop seeing Ernst, at least until his marital status is clear. Fat chance. Also slim chance. Also no chance. It’s head-spinning love.

Gwyneth Paltrow, coming up next in the romantic comedy, “The Pallbearer,” will then move on into Jane Austen country, along with every other thespian now breathing, it seems. She’ll play the title role in the screen adaption of “Emma,” which rather confusingly follows on another Austen opus, Emma Thompson’s “Sense and Sensibility.” Also on the horizon — a TV version of “Emma.” It’s called wringing poor Jane dry.

Sir Anthony Hopkins may not walk off with an Oscar this year — the bets are that Nicolas Cage will take it away for “Leaving Las Vegas” — but Hopkins will be a happy man nonetheless. Accompanying him to the awards will be his estranged wife, Jennifer. They’re reconciling, whoop-dee-do!

A Night at the Opera: One of the — if not the — Metropolitan Opera’s most popular evenings is the annual On Stage at the Met gala, a dinner dance where the Met’s big donors and assorted corporate giants revel on the same stage as the great singers of song and story. All these big business types get a big bang out of the party, as well they should. It’s a unique chance to remove their noses from the grindstone and celebrate their contributions to culture. This year, the party was set amidst the stage scenery of Philip Glass’s “The Voyage,” under painted cerulean skies and puffy white clouds. Such fun. And the guest of honor was Daniel Tully, the chairman and ceo of Merrill Lynch, big supporters of the Met for more than 20 years. Tully gave a little speech and then announced he was not going to lose this chance to sing at the Met, even though the only song he knew was “Danny Boy,” which his wife, Grace, had forbidden him to sing. So he burst out with a few bars of “Gracie Girl,” sung to the same tune as “Danny Boy,” and brought down the house. Need I tell you you had to be there? There is no point in hurting Mr. Tully’s feelings, but, really, the sparkling new soprano, Cecilia Bartoli, she of the ravishing trills, who sang for the crowd of 850 during dinner, needn’t worry her pretty little head.
The evening’s chairmen were Alfred DeCrane, the big man at Texaco, and John Stafford, who runs things at American Home Products. The committee chair was Mrs. Ezra (Cecile) Zilkha, the little rose petal who organizes the Met’s biggest fund-raisers with skill and panache and succeeded in pulling in over $1.4 million that evening.
Glorious Food provided the artichoke bottoms with lobster, the fillet of beef and the chocolate hazelnut dacquoise, Philip Baloun provided the gold net coverings for the tables and the towering, gilded topiary trees, and Michael Carney’s orchestra provided the music. And this is who was there: Sue and Donald Newhouse of Newhouse Newspapers; Agnes Gund of the Museum of Modern Art and Daniel Shapiro; the newlywed Tony Randals; Deborah Norville and Karl Wellner; Chris and Bruce Crawford, the Met’s president; Crown Prince Pavlos and Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece; Beverly Sills; Willow Bay and Robert Iger; Doda Voridis; Ezra Zilkha; the Joseph Volpes (he is the Met’s general manager); Joan Rivers with Orin Lehman; the James Kinnears (he’s the chairman of the Met); Judy and Ed Ney; Carroll Petrie; John Galliher; Khalil Rizk; Lee Thaw; the Frank Bennacks; the Robert Days; Alia el-Solh; Anna Moffo and Robert Sarnoff; Christopher Getty; the Wilson Taylors of CIGNA, and others too cultured to mention. Cecile Zilkha looked just adorable in a top by Oscar de la Renta and a bottom by Yves Saint Laurent. It’s the only way, really.

“The Domingo Gala,” welcoming the great tenor Placido Domingo to Washington as the Washington Opera’s new artistic director, was a rip-roaring success, and today the opera company is richer by $2.6 million, a tidy sum indeed, maybe a record for a nonpolitical fund-raiser in a purely political town. The Hon. Selwa — everybody calls her “Lucky” — Roosevelt was the chair of the evening, and she was giving off sparks nonstop at the Kennedy Center concert starring Placido and an array of stars of the music world. Afterward, at least 800 fans and friends celebrated their new director and his wife, Marta, at a reception in the Kennedy Center’s Atrium and Galleries. At the dinner afterward in the Hall of Mirrors and L’Orangerie, each guest received a limited edition Tiffany white and gold porcelain box painted with a likeness of Placido, opera’s most glamorous male figure — y como!
Meanwhile, Lucky, receiving plaudits all around, was tucked into a strapless dress by Dominican designer Sully Bonnelly. Blue, with shimmery gold and red flowers, the creation also sported a matching stole, giving the upcoming spring season a kick-off. “In my life,” said our Lucky, “I’ve never had so many compliments on a dress. Even men came over to me! I found it at Saks in Palm Beach, but it was in a tiny size, and I’m not tiny, so the designer made it to my measurements.” Certainly she is not tiny from the waist up, being the possessor of one of the belle-est of poitrines. You think that was one of the reasons even the men came over to strapless Lucky? Nah. It was probably the stole.

A clutch of British royals is in town, Princess Margaret and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Prince Philip will be present in the flesh at The Royal Gala tonight in the Ballroom of the Grand Hyatt celebrating the 40th anniversary of Philip’s International Youth Award, a program challenging young people to achieve positive personal goals and open to all 14-23-year-olds in the United States. The evening’s guest of honor is Timothy Forbes, the acting chief executive officer of Forbes, Inc. while his big brother, Steve, is frying other fish. Marvin Hamlisch and the Children’s Aid Society will perform, and Lester Lanin will play for the dancing. Oh, and there will be a celebration cake with flags, candles and what have you to salute Prince Philip’s upcoming birthday on June 10. My, but don’t we colonists think of everything?

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