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For the last few seasons, Yves Saint Laurent and the Metropolitan Opera have enjoyed a nice, symbiotic relationship. YSL gives the Opera a new, young audience; the Opera gives YSL another layer of cultural cache. On Monday night, the French design house sponsored the gala premiere for the third time (they’re committed to one more).
Chloe Sevigny, Ginnifer Goodwin, Emily Mortimer and Maggie Gyllenhaal came as guests of the brand, and saw a performance of “Armida,” an 1817 opera about an irresistible and manipulative sorceress being performed at the Met for the first time.
“In opera speak, this is the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest, not only singing the role but producing the opera because it’s so long and so difficult,” said Renée Fleming, who starred in the almost four hour performance.
The soprano was a big draw for several celebs. “I don't know anything about the opera,” said Goodwin. “But I can tell you I love the sound of Renée Fleming’s voice.” “I’m not the most versed on opera,” echoed Patricia Clarkson, “but I do know I’m going to see Renée Fleming and that makes me so happy I can't tell you.”
Sevigny, too, was eager to be swept away by the production. “I’m hoping to be taken up in the moment,” she said. However, “I came to hang out with Stefano [Pilati] and now he’s not here so I’m kind of disappointed.” (YSL ceo Valérie Hermann said Pilati was stuck in Paris working on the next collection.)
After an early dinner among the Chagalls in the Dress Circle, VIPs settled into their boxes for the show, which was directed by Mary Zimmerman and featured a whimsical set by Richard Hudson. Spike Lee only made it through one act before exiting. His wife and daughter stayed through act two.
Although the famous faces bring attention to the artistic medium, patrons such as Marie-Josee and Henry Kravis and Mercedes Bass keep the opera afloat. Bass seemed in exceptionally good spirits on Monday night, despite losing her perch as gala chairman to Ann Ziff, who donated $30 million to the Met earlier this year. That generous gift appeared to elevate Ziff to near-Fleming status. At the cast party afterwards, the singer’s arrival was greeted by enthusiastic applause. When Met general manager Peter Gelb mentioned Ziff’s name, there were whistles and whoops.