On Monday, April 12, at the Metropolitan Opera’s opening-night performance of Rossini’s Armida, the Transom decided to sort the famous people who truly enjoy the cries of Renée Fleming from those who come for the fashion spectacle that the event has become ever since Yves Saint Laurent became the official sponsor three years ago.
Seeing Chloë Sevigny approach in an elegant black evening jumpsuit, with black gloves covering her forearms and wearing scarlet lipstick, we asked, “True opera fan or just here for the socializing?”
“I came to hang out with [YSL chief designer] Stefano Pilati, but he missed his flight and he didn’t make it so I’m kind of disappointed,” the actress said. “He wanted me to wear this outfit, so I wore it and I’m here to see him and he’s not here!” As for Armida: “I don’t even know what it’s about,” Ms. Sevigny admitted. “I went to the opera years ago with my mother once, but I don’t remember what I saw.” A photographer asked Ms. Sevigny to turn around to get an over-the-shoulder shot. The actress turned around and said, re the back of her outfit: “It’s not that interesting.”
A traditional opera-goer might also be irked by the emerging trend of the dressy pants that have replaced the floor-sweeping opera gowns. “I feel most comfortable in pants these days,” said actress Ginnifer Goodwin, who arrived in a corset top and high-waisted black slacks. But is she comfortable discussing coloratura? “I’m a true fan, but I don’t have much of an opera education,” Ms. Goodwin said. “In fact, they make it so accessible these days printing the entire story in the program and giving us all subtitles. I love the music, like I’m a big Puccini fan, but I don’t understand a word of it! I was raised in America”-Memphis-”so I speak English.”
Wearing a feathery YSL minidress, the socialite Fabiola Beracasa said that she appreciated opera partly because of how much she used to protest going when she was younger. “Since I was little, my paternal grandmother took me,” Ms. Beracasa said. “I hated it. I would fall asleep or say, ‘I have a stomachache, I can’t go!’ But as an adult, I have an affinity for it. For me, it’s just this nostalgia for my childhood.”
Shortly before curtain, actress Christine Baranski arrived, clad in a ruffly black-halter gown. She said she had been to 10 opera productions this season. “Opera-goers are a passionate group. I was in the audience opening night of Tosca, when everyone was booing. And I just thought, ‘How wonderful! How passionate!’”