Among the perfumed pack invading the Met were Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the United Nations, there with Mrs. Annan. He almost took the play away from the dazzlers on the Met’s stage, surrounded and peppered with questions. (Quo vadis, Security Council?) Annan gets high marks for graciousness. After all, there’s only so much you can show and tell.
Everyone thought "Oh my, aren’t the singing stars Mirella Freni and Placido Domingo brilliant tonight?" Placido sang in every stage act from three operas — "Fedora" (with Freni), "Samson et Dalila" and "Otello" (with Renee Fleming). The artists joined the guests, that is the guests who paid $2,500 each for the reception, performance and black-tie cast supper on the Vilar Grand Tier. There to sup, 600 strong on lobster with Louis sauce, veal scallopini with prosciutto and three berry cake with ginger ice cream — all purveyed by Glorious Food — on tables covered with fuchsia- and mango-striped organza, centered with French hurricane lamps and surrounded by a wreath of red, coral and terra-cotta roses — all purveyed by Bill Tansey Designs.
Cécile Zilkha is the special events chairman of the Met and the dynamo who masterminds opening night and all those glamorous evenings that add so much lucre to the Met’s coffers. Cécile, floating in a black chiffon and organza skirt with feathers and paillettes, may be one of the world’s greatest greeters, and herewith just some of the guests she greeted on the first night of the Met 2002-2003 seasons: the French Ambassador François Bujon de l’Estang and Mrs. Bujon de l’Estang, our Ambassador to the United Nations and Mrs. John Negroponte, Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger and Mrs. Jutta Falke Ischinger, Cardinal Edward Egan, Lee (Mrs. Walter) Annenberg, Lauren and John Veronis, Princess Firyal of Jordan and Lionel Pincus, Richard Gilder, Marie Josée and Henry Kravis, Lord and Lady Black, Allison and Leonard Stern, Mercedes and Sid Bass, Luella and Frank Bennack, Annette and Oscar de la Renta, the Nicholas Bradys, the Hon. Thomas Kean, Anna Moffo, Nancy Kissinger, Lucky Roosevelt, Beverly Sills, Rise Stevens and last but not least, her proud husband, Ezra Zilkha.