Byline: Aileen Mehle
It has come and gone, but the town is still talking about the Metropolitan Opera’s Millennium Celebration starring the three supertenors, Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti, each appearing in that order in an act from “Carmen,” “Andrea Chenier” and “Turandot.” To say the crowd went wild would be putting it mildly, especially the guests in the box occupied by executives and guests of the underwriter, Deutsche Bank, now known as Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown. It figures. You pay your money and you get a magnificent performance and a black-tie supper that raised almost $4 million for the Met’s pension fund.
At least 1,100 guests attended the post-performance supper in a tent in Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center where the three divos held court. Placido has a huge fan club in Japan, and it looked as though every member of it plus those in the American branch had come to hear him sing, to collect his autograph and to be photographed with him while scores of cameras clicked. As ever, Cecile Zilkha, who masterminds these huge, glamorous special events for the opera company, organized this one. Glorious Food purveyed the menu — tomato aspic with caviar and smoked trout, chicken curry and a hazelnut confection with hot chocolate sauce. But it was the tent that all but stopped traffic. Beatrice (Mrs. Julio Mario) Santo Domingo, who has been everywhere and seen everything, said it was one of the most beautiful she had ever seen. They all had Bill Tansey to thank.
Tansey draped the walls of the sleek, elegant pavilion in green, kiwi and lime fabric and hung from the ceiling overscale white metal chandeliers in three different sizes to give the effect of thousands of beacons overhead. The poles of the tent were dressed in birch branches suggesting a pristine wood, and the lighting cast a pattern of tropical shadows on the ceiling. Supper tables were covered in crisp white pique and centered with either verdant displays of tropical foliage sprouting from tall crystal columns surrounded by white garden roses or clear salvers holding white French peonies and variegated leaves. The entire effect was of a pure modern glade, drama itself. So not only did the tenors stop the show, so to speak, but so did what Tansey wrought.
Mercedes and Sid Bass were in their box along with Nancy Kissinger and Annette de la Renta and lighting up the parterre were media baron Conrad Black and his alluring wife, Barbara, Mrs. Kofi Annan in shell pink and beige satin, Lauren and John Veronis, the James Kinnears (he is the Met’s president), Lita and George Livanos and Bettina Zilkha. You would have loved it.
Wednesday night at the Harvard Westlake School in Los Angeles, who should costar in the school’s production of “Bye Bye Birdie” but Chloe Malle, the darling daughter of Candice Bergen and the late French director Louis Malle. What have we here, a third generation of showfolk emerging? Chloe’s grandfather and Candice’s daddy was, of course, the famed ventriloquist Edgar Bergen, than whom there was no one showfolkier. What’s that again about blood will tell?
How about that Gianfranco Ferre and the beautiful women hanging on his arm of late? The charming designer not only escorted Elizabeth Taylor to that big charity ball in Cannes the other night (he dressed her for the glamorous affair), but on Wednesday he was Naomi Campbell’s date for the gala in Monte Carlo honoring Helmut Newton. Campbell wore an asymmetrical black snakeskin dress so slithery that even if you missed her you saw her anyhow.
Barbara Taylor Bradford’s newest novel, “Where You Belong,” a bestseller like just about everything else she ever wrote, has been sold to American and British TV for a 14-hour miniseries. So on Tuesday Muffie Potter Aston and Dr. Sherrell Aston are giving her a party to celebrate. And, listen to this exciting bit — Muffie actually appears as a character in Chapter 18 giving advice to the heroine, Valentine Denning, a combat photojournalist. Advice about what? Read the book. Among those expected at the Astons to sip champagne and discuss who will play Muffie on TV — why not Muffie herself? — are Carolina and Reinaldo Herrera, Blaine and Robert Trump, Duane Hampton, Kenneth Jay Lane and Lauren and John Veronis, voracious readers and viewers all.
Claire Forlani may have been forlorn when she lost Brad Pitt in “Meet Joe Black,” but, heaven be praised, she’s learned to trust again. In “Antitrust,” she’s helped to believe once more by Ryan Phillippe, who plays her young, idealistic computer-genius boyfriend in the Silicon Valley cyber-thriller. Tim Robbins costars.
Dennis Basso showed his fall fur collection at the Pierre and among those settling into the front row were Kathy and Rick Hilton of all those hotels, who applauded as their daughter Nikki worked the runway in a pink mink jacket that Kathy promptly bought. For Kathy? For Nikki? CeCe Cord fell for a sable cape she said she would like to crawl under. The crowd cheered as Natalie Cole swept the catwalk in a floor-length lynx coat. If you’re really going to sweep the floor, it sure beats a broom. Next Dennis will pack up his collection and head to Paris to show it at the Crillon. We all know about Paris in the winter when it shivers, and Dennis is counting on that.
Princess Yasmin Aga Khan is preparing for a busy summer — as who isn’t? She’ll be in Southampton — as who won’t? — making plans for her 16th Annual Rita Hayworth Gala, “Beneath The Harvest Moon,” at the Waldorf on Oct. 11 honoring Claudia Cohen for her past work for the Alzheimer’s Association and Dr. Martin Citron for his medical advances. Susan Hess is the gala chairman, and Ashford and Simpson will entertain. It is never too often to remind one and all that Yasmin’s mother was the dazzling movie star Rita Hayworth, who succumbed to Alzheimer’s years ago, and that her daughter has been working ever since to help eradicate this dreadful disease.