On May 7th, 360° of Opera had the pleasure of attending the 50th Anniversary Gala at The Metropolitan Opera. It was a night we will be talking about for the rest of our lives. Joining 360° of Opera was our dear friend Sandra Hamaoui, without whom this night wouldn’t have been nearly as adventurous! A lot happened during this event, and between glasses of champagne and smoked salmon sandwiches, we got to mingle with the stars and witness one of the most epic opera performances the world has ever seen.
First things first, getting dressed for a black-tie event is quite exciting. Even as performers who get to dress up a lot, this was something special. Sandra wore her very popular “so much dress” gown by Oscar de la Renta and she became one with the red stairs of The Met. I opted for a purple BCBG Maxazria with a golden collar. Fun fact, we were both at long time Met Opera coach Joan Dornemann’s home earlier in the day and she lent me one of her shawls for good luck (and to make sure I looked elegant enough!).
After our coachings, we got ready, checked in on each other, and hopped in an Uber, since it was raining and wearing gowns on the 1 train was not the most practical thing to do. The cocktail started at 5 pm in the Grand Tier. We arrived there with enough time to admire all the incredible outfits circling around us. We ran into Mignon Dunn, who was enjoying the breeze in the balcony. She approved of our style and sent us back inside so we would not catch a cold.
The performance started a bit after 6 pm, and went on for about FIVE hours. There was a generous intermission for the audience to get their champagne fix and of course to discuss how epic the show had been so far and what was yet to come. We kept looking at the program in awe, triple checking that such a lineup was even possible.
Star after star hit the stage and every aria, ensemble and video projection was received warmly and with pure joy by the audience. There was such an exciting energy in the house that night, nothing close to what we had experienced before. It confirmed to us that opera is alive and thriving. Audiences are willing to be surprised and taken somewhere magical. The question is, do we as performers, producers, directors, conductors, allow ourselves and each other, to get to that place every single time as well? How can the audience go there if we do not?
There were some changes to the original cast, which is understandable, considering the Met had managed to put together a cast of 40 opera stars. For instance, tenor Roberto Alagna decided not to participate. He was performing in Cyrano the Bergerac that same week time and it is a very demanding role. As much as we would have loved to hear him that night, we think that it was a smart move on his part. It also goes to show that performers are regularly forced to make hard decisions to insure they offer their best to their audience. As far as the cast, we would love to give a special shout out to our low-voiced friends Paul An, Sava Vemic and Christopher Job whose performances filled us with pure joy and pride.
One of the big highlights of the night was the surprise performance by Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, long absent from the Met Opera stage due to health issues. As his name was not on the program, he was announced by Peter Gelb with an introduction we cannot forget: “Here tonight, defying all the odds and all the gods… Dmitri Hvorostovsky!”. The house received him with outstanding support and affection. He performed a very emotional “Cortigiani, vil razza dannata” from Verdi’s Rigoletto and brought the house down. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience to be able to witness such honest artistry, dedication and passion to the craft.
We will be sharing more about this evening soon. One post is not enough to make this night justice, so stay tuned! In the meantime, to relive more of this exciting night, head over to @360ofopera on Instagram and Facebook, where you can find all our photos and videos from that night, including the detailed program.