In Part I we were back in our seats in the Grand Tier as the curtain went up on our new season at the Metropolitan Opera. The opera was Mozart’s Don Giovanni (for a synopsis of the story, see Part I).
It was a good news/bad news sort of day. The good news was that it was a good (not great) performance. The bad news was that the well-dressed operagoer is fast becoming an endangered species. The good news is that there are still a few shining examples of how to dress for the opera, even on a dismal, drizzly day in New York.
|Anna at the Opera|
This is my Hungarian friend Anna. Do you remember me telling you about my special group of friends that I call the Culture Vultures? If there’s an opera, a ballet, a concert or an art exhibit, we’re all over it. Anna is one of those very special friends. Since it was, as I said, a rainy day in New York, Anna left her Jimmy Choos at home, but, even so, she put herself together beautifully, as she always does. For a study in contrast, just take a look at the people in the background, particularly the lady with the dreadful, front-facing fanny pack.
Anna is wearing a dress and asymmetrical sweater wrap from Porto in San Francisco. Notice the lovely draping of the fabric. Her handbag is Ferragamo, her patterned stockings (which, sadly, do not show to advantage in this picture) are Italian and her open-toed shoes are from Stuart Weitzman. I love the feminine touch of the black bow headband. This is how to be comfortable while looking utterly stylish on a nasty, drizzly day in New York. Comfort and style are NOT mutually exclusive.
To be honest, Anna is tall and slender and can wear anything well. She favors Missoni and Miyake, both of which suit her silhouette. One of these days, I’ll persuade her to let us take a peek in her closet. You’ll love it!!
Whether in basic black or a bright print, Anna has a distinct style all her own, and what I love most about her style is that she breaks the rules. Bright red hair, cropped short and chic, highlights her great cheekbones and flawless skin. And Anna wouldn’t be Anna without her signature red lipstick. She wears frosted, shimmery eye shadows, which we are told to avoid “at our age,” and she wears them beautifully. The truth is that when you wear eyeglasses, as Anna does, you should draw attention to your eyes with dramatic eye makeup.
More good news/bad news. First, the bad news. For the last several years, I have been noticing more and more empty seats at the Met, and there were a lot of them that day. It’s no secret that the Met has been suffering severe financial difficulties in recent years. Many of us wonder if the moribund economy of the last eight years, falling attendance, increasing ticket prices, rising union costs and huge investments in HD telecasts in movie theaters around the world have put the Met on a glide path to ruin. Every year our ticket prices go up a lot, and every year as I write out the check, I wonder how much longer we can afford to renew a subscription we have held for almost 40 years. But…..frankly, life without our beloved Met is unthinkable for my husband and me…..at least for now.
Now the good news. Something we have dearly missed is back, and I am thrilled!!
In 1966, when the Met moved from the Old Met location to Lincoln Center, the people of Vienna made a gift of the magnificent Lobmeyr crystal chandeliers and sconces that have become so identified with the house. The generous gift was made to thank Met subscribers for their generosity to the reconstruction of the Vienna State Opera house following World War II.
The most famous of the chandeliers are the twelve starbursts in a horseshoe configuration in the Grand Tier. These were the chandeliers that would rise 65 feet and dim as they reached the 23 carat gold-covered ceiling. This was the signal that the opera was about to begin. Newcomers to the Met always broke out into applause as they followed the path of these dazzling starbursts, and, as many times as I saw it over the years from our seats in the Grand Tier, where we have a bird’s eye view, I, too, got a little thrill each time. If the house was very quiet, you could actually hear a gentle tinkling sound as they rose. It was magic!
And then, one day, we arrived at the theater and the chandeliers were already hovering near the ceiling. What happened? What happened was a malfunction in the mechanism that left the starbursts lost in space near the golden ceiling, where they would remain for several years.
|Credit Piotr Redlinski for The New York Times|
Every summer the chandeliers get a good going-over -- cleaning, polishing, replacing bulbs, etc. -- but it was decided that repairing the faulty mechanism would just be too complicated and too costly. So, there they sat, and I would look up at them before every performance and whisper to them how much I missed them.
And now for the REALLY good news. When we entered the Grand Tier for our first performance of the season, even before I took my seat, I saw them -- hanging right in front of me on their red velvet chords. I was so happy, I almost cried. “Welcome back, dear old friends. I’ve missed you so much.” It’s going to be great season!