Jill Krementz covers The Met Opera's Opening Night

The Metropolitan Opera
Opening Night Gala
Das Rheingold New Production Premiere
Monday, September 27, 2010

The Metropolitan Opera opened its season with the sold out performance of Richard Wagner's Das Rheingold, directed by Canadian Robert Lepage. Conducting was a frail James Levine, who has been recovering from major surgery on his spinal cord.

There were probably as many Canadians in New York City as in Canada for the opening night gala, given that Mr. Lepage hails from Quebec City.

Bass-Baritone Bryn Terfel, wearing a bronze breastplate and his hair falling over one eye, instead of the customary patch, was a splendid Wotan and it was a treat to see him in person instead of on the side of a bus.

I'm hardly an opera critic-in fact, it was my first ring — but I had a great evening. It was a particular pleasure to see Maestro Levine back on the podium.
Outside the met, in the rain, one could view Director Robert Lepage being interviewed on a simulcast from the red carpet.
My opening night ticket (and receipt showing back of James Levine) for Das Rheingold.
View of the Met's majestic staircase and various tiers.
New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham, perpetually in motion, but rarely in a suit. Barbara and Donald Tober checking out their tickets to see where they are seated.
Musicians warming up in the pit.
Inside the Metropolitan Opera House.
Alba and Francesco Clemente. David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, with his wife, Esther Fein.
Peter Brown. Bob Hofler, an editor at Variety, who had flown in from Los Angeles to review the opening night.
Bob Colacello, staff writer for Vanity Fair. Lauren and John Veronis.
Lena Kaplan. Ellen Katz. Ted Chapin, who is in charge of the Tony Awards.
Soprano Barbara Cook. Ms. Cook has been delighting audiences around the world for more than 50 years. Dodie Kazanjian, curator of Gallery Met. A solo exhibition will accompany each of the four operas in the "Ring" cycle. On view now is a show by Julie Mehretu. Opera goers can also see a large painting by Ms. Mehretu, which is installed at the top of the Met's grand tier level.
Anjelica Huston and Earl McGrath. Ms. Huston has a few movies coming out in the near future, the first of which is The Big Year. Mr. McGrath, recently widowed, has closed down his gallery. Helen Friedman, inveterate opera goer. She and her husband can be found in the front row behind the conductor at almost every performance at the Met.
Richard Croft, Bryn Terfel, and Stephanie Blythe.

Croft sings the role of Loge, a god of Fire, the god of fire — who actually isn't a full god — he's half mortal and basically hates, or is very contemptuous of, the gods. Richard Croft is a wonderful actor and singer.

Terfel, as you know, performs the role of Wotan, and Ms. Blythe, that of his wife, Fricka.
Maestro Levine joins the lineup.
Robert Lepage joins the lineup.
Maestro Levine gets a thunderous ovation.
Table setting of autumn flowers with first course: Autumn vegetable Napoleon — a combination of Herb Goat Cheese, Grilled Yellow Tomatoes, Roasted Poblano Peppers, Caramelized Onions, and Arugula.
Conductor James Levine. Director Robert Lepage. Mr. Lepage, famous for his Cirque du Soleil production, designed a 45-ton set with moving planks, which evolve into myriad shapes. Often referred to as The Valhalla Machine, the set is covered with a special canvas that allows for projections.
Mercedes Bass and Barry Diller.
Nina Munk and Henry Kissinger. Ms. Munk is an author and frequent contributor to Vanity Fair. She profiled Peter Gelb for the magazine. Nancy Kissinger.
Miranda Richardson and John Barrett, hairdresser to the stars. His salon is at Bergdorf Goodman. Ms. Richardson hid her face whenever a photographer came near, which seemed a bit odd as she was a guest of the Met.
Peter Gelb, Manager of the Metropolitan Opera. Shirley Lord Rosenthal.
Patrick Stewart and Ann Ziff, the Gala Chairman. Mr. Stewart , the British actor (and former Star Trek captain), is currently on Broadway starring in David Mamet's A Life in the Theater.
Peter Duchin. Georgette Mosbacher.
Writer and blogger Roger Friedman is flanked by Lauren Lyall and Patricia Clarkson. Ms. Lyall is a Cytogenetic Technologist doing cancer research. "Patti and I are dear friends from New Orleans where I live and where my husband is the conductor of the resident orchestra." Ms. Clarkson, who grew up in New Orleans, has appeared in two recent films: Cairo Time and Legendary.
Patti Smith. Ms. Richardson, an hour later, still hiding, framed by autumn foliage.
Dr. Tony Jahn, who is the Met's house doctor. "I started working here 30 years ago and it's lots of fun. I go on tour with the company to Japan which I enjoy." Dr. Jahn co-authored Care of the Professional Voice with Garfield Davies. Jim Naples, House Manager of the Met.
Chairman of the Board Chris Hunter welcomes guests to the dinner, which was held in a large tent adjacent to the opera house.
Echoing the stage set.
Joseph Volpe, former director of the Met. Matthew and David Gelb, Peter Gelb's sons. Matthew is 21 and works in film in Toronto. David is 25 and is a film director in Los Angeles.
Lynn Nesbit and Bob Silvers. Ms. Nesbit is a high-powered literary agent. Mr. Silvers is Editor of The New York Review of Books.
Robert Lepage and Deborah Voigt. Paul Libin, Chairman of The Broadway League.
Peter Gelb welcoming guests and asking for a round of applause in honor of Maestro Levine's 40th anniversary with the Met.
Tom Levine with his brother, James Levine.
Recently-retired ballerina, Darci Kistler, with Andrew Solomon. NYCB's Peter Martins.
Patti Smith greeting Maestro Levine, which she later said was one of the most exciting moments ever.
Assistant Manager Sarah Billinghurst. Writer John Habich with Susannah Robinson. Ms. Robinson is with Kathmandu Valley
Preservation Trust.
Bass-Baritone Eric Owens, who was a magnificent Alberich. Mr. Owens made his Met debut in 2008
Eric Owens with his manager, Matthew Horner. Bernard Gersten and his wife, Cora Cahan, who were on their way to the hospital for the birth of a grandchild.
Left to right: Chris Owens, Maureen Dowd huddling with André Leon Talley, Christine Baransky chatting with Arthur Gelb, and Patricia Clarkson with performers Eric Owens and Stephanie Blythe.
Tom Levine, an artist, and Patti Smith are collaborating on a book about the poet John Ashbery. Mezzo-Soprano Stephanie Blythe, who sang the role of Fricka. Ms. Blythe has performed more than 150 times in 24 roles at the Met.
Peter Gelb with his proud parents, Barbara and Arthur Gelb. I overheard many people going up to Arthur saying: "You must be so proud of your son" and Arthur would reply, "Too proud, too proud."

Arthur and Barbara Gelb are award-winning writers and leading authorities on the life and work of playwright Eugene O'Neill. They are writing their third and final biography of the playwright to be published by Putnam next year.
Mercedes Bass and Judy Taubman. Jerry Speyer.
Susan and Glenn Lowry. Mr. Lowry is Director of MoMA. Sid Bass.
Bryn Terfel with Das Rheingold's costume designer, Francois St. Aubin, and actress Dominique Leduc.
Niv Fichman, film producer of The Red Violin, with Lisa Lambert. Ms. Lambert wrote the lyrics for The Drowsy Chaperone. Billy Norwich and Patricia Clarkson. Mr. Norwich writes for Town and Country.
Vogue's André Leon Talley.
The New York Times' star Maureen Dowd. "André told me I looked like Blanche DuBois at the prom, which by my count, was two insults in one sentence." Patrick Stewart on his way out with his date for the evening, singer Sunny Ozell.
Christine Baranski and her daughter Lily Cowles. Ms. Cowles is a 23-year-old student who is getting her Masters at Oxford. She once wrote a paper on an opening of Das Rheingold.

Ms. Baranski, as you know, is back this season in The Good Wife. "I'm a real opera buff and last season I went to 14 operas. The more you go, the more you appreciate it. When i was at Juilliard I used to walk across the plaza all the time to the Met. I still remember going to an opening night and seeing Mayor Lindsay arrive and I just stood there like a girl from Buffalo thinking it was the most glamorous thing in the world."
Back view of Lily Cowles. Peggy Siegal with Peter Gelb and Billy Norwich. Ms. Siegal orchestrated much of the evening, inviting numerous stars of stage and screen.
NYU student Yonadav Tsuna grabs a minute with Mr. Lepage.
Pedro Peirano, writer and director from Chile. Jacqueline Desmarais. Ms. Desmarais lives in Canada and helped to underwrite the evening.
Robert Lepage with Jacqueline Desmarais.
Bryn Terfel shows off the ring given to him by James Levine on opening night. Stephanie Blythe joined Mr. Terfel and others for a final round of champagne after the dinner guests had departed.
A very content-looking Peter Gelb at the end of a wonderful evening.
Text and photographs © by Jill Krementz; all rights reserved.