Tuesday, September 22, 2015

New York Evening Hours with Lieba Nesis: The Metropolitan Opera Gala 2015

Billionaires Meet Celebrities

Bartlett Sher Director of the Opera & Patricia Clarkson
(wearing Alberta Ferretti)
All photos Lieba Nesis
(Click images for full size views)

The Metropolitan Opera held its opening night premiere of "Otello" at the Metropolitan Opera House last night.  Peter Gelb, the general manager, always manages to attract the who's who of New York society but this year he outdid himself.  As I entered the cocktail hour at 5:30 pm I bumped into my law professor Alan Dershowitz which prepared me for the diverse and ohmigod crowd I would soon encounter.


Helena Cramm ( wearing Valentino), Mercedes Bass (in Oscar de la Renta)
& Princess Sophie Habsburg (wearing Valentino)

As the ladies in gowns kept streaming in I spotted so many socialites including Mercedes Bass, Stacey Bronfman, Princess Sophie Habsburg, Julie Macklowe, Georgette Mosbacher and others that my eyes became blurry from their blinding jewels.


Billionaires - Pepe and Emilia Fanjul (wearing Carolina Herrera)

Then there were the billionaires who humbly tried to maintain a low profile but to no avail I found them anyway including: Emilia and Pepe Fanjul from the sugar dynasty; Barry Diller from the media conglomerate; Leonard Lauder from the cosmetics empire; Alexander Soros from the Soros hedge fund; and many other titans in every industry.


Left: Bette Midler; Center Drew Barrymore; Right Jill Hennessy

Just when my eyes were losing interest in popped in the hardest crowd to attract-the celebrities-and they showed up in abundance including: Drew Barrymore, Dame Helen Mirren, Jessica Chastain, Gina Gershon, Alexander Skarsgard, Brooke Shields, Jill Hennessy, Ellen Burstyn, Bette Midler, Dylan McDermott, and Dermot Mulroney. I feel obliged to commend a few celebrities on their friendly demeanor and fashionable attire.


Taylor Hackford & Helen Mirren (wearing Dolce and Gabbana)
with Eric Motley

Firstly, Helen Mirren, a consistent fashion stunner, looked splendid in a Dolce and Gabbana dress with a Hudson Bay scarf. She is self deprecating and witty and said two of her favorite designers are Badgley Mischka and Dolce and Gabbana. Mirren, was accompanied by husband Taylor Hackford, who is an American film director and quite handsome. The "Dame" always looks delicious and sexy, while still appearing age appropriate and classy-hats off to Mirren.


Jessica Chastain in Elie Saab

Similarly, Jessica Chastain, is a fashion standout, and tonight was no different as she graced the event in a lace Elie Saab pantsuit. Chastain is so gracious and patient it was hard to believe she is an Academy Award nominee. As usual, her hair was perfection in a loose hanging bob and her smile dazzled all who were fortunate to encounter her.


 Ellen Burstyn

Ellen Burstyn, an Academy award winner, similarly stood out in a lovely gold pants outfit created by Zonda Nellis, and kept a low and dignified profile. Burstyn is old style Hollywood and she never lets you forget it. Some more Hollywood royalty included Patricia Clarkson in a beautiful green and gold over-the-knee Alberta Ferretti dress who said that her current career ascendancy is an "about time" as she recently turned 55. Another Hollywood class act who has maintained career longevity is the radiant Jill Hennessy who looked svelte and sinewy which she told me was due to her regular yoga habit and carrying her children. Hennessy is launching a solo singing career and will be performing next week in New York City.


Alexander Skarsgard

Now last but certainly not least on my celebrity "hits list" is Alexander Skarsgard - he is an absolute stunner. At 6 feet 4 inches he is every bit the male superstar and he carries himself with the elegance of royalty. Moreover, he is kind, approachable and humble and I was tempted to ask his marital status. I watched him all night sitting, standing, thinking and not once did he lose his regalness - he is James Dean territory.

Brooke Shields & Michele Hensler (wearing Carmen Marc Valvo) &
 Beejan Land (wearing Tom Ford )

After I stopped sweating, I tried to enjoy the opera which was three and a half hours long. I am no opera aficionado but I found it odd that they chose "Otello" for opening night when there are so few recognizable arias-at least for novices like myself.


Left: Isabelle Junot (in Carmen Marc Valvo) & Capucine (in Dolce and Gabbana)'
Center: Camilla Staerk & Helena Christensen; Right: Juju Chang & husband Neil Shapiro

Tenors Aleksandrs Antonenko and Sonya Yoncheva did a wonderful job, as far as my ears could tell, but I was underwhelmed by the sets and costumes - especially for an opening night. However, the opera has been scaling down on its productions due to its precarious financial position so kudos to Peter Gelb for reigning in his usual extravagance.


Actress Maggie Q & actor Dylan McDermott

At the conclusion of the opera, the audience reacted enthusiastically with a standing ovation and rowdy hollers and a select few headed into the accompanying tent for a wonderful dinner. The grand tent was inviting and elegant with shades of pink, gold and silver adorning the tables.


Dee Dee Benkie, Paul Sorvino with lead opera
singer Sonya Yoncheva

The tables were arranged according to prominence with the first large table containing mostly celebrities and publicity powerhouses such as Andrew Saffir. The next large table consisted of the opera director, costume designer and tenors.

Alex Soros son of George & model Alina Baikova

The rest of the tables were smaller and less assuming and contained "regular folks" akin to Diller and Lauder. As the clock struck midnight the crowd emptied out with only a few remaining to savor the uniqueness of the night; I was one of those trying to prolong the magic of a wonderful evening.




- Lieba Nesis

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