Some events require little of their attendees. A quick stop, a sip or two of champagne, maybe a canapé and you’re on your merry way. Such is not the case with the opera. Even when the program includes a “short” comedic work, as The Metropolitan Opera’s Opening Gala did Monday night, you’re still in it for the long haul. Unless you’re Courtney Love. The songstress strolled down the red carpet, answered reporters’ questions and went inside only to spend, according to one spectator, about twenty minutes fidgeting before hightailing it out of there.

“She came, she saw, she left,” quipped one woman.


Love was a rarity that evening, which was underwritten by Deutsche Bank. The opera in question was the rather delightful “L’Elisir d’Amore,” a 19th century piece written by Gaetano Donizetti and set in a small Italian countryside town in which Adina (Anna Netrebko) and Nemorino (Matthew Polenzani) tussle with unrequited love to comic effect (who knew opera could go rom-com?). It seemed to be a surefire crowd pleaser.

“It’s my first time at the opera!” enthused Ari Graynor, whose date was Cheyenne Jackson. “Except my dress keeps falling down,” she said as she struggled with her strapless top.


One seasoned attendee expressed disappointment.

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“The sets are just awful, this is 2012,” he lamented. “This could be any Italian opera. Though have you seen the costumes?” He didn’t mean the ones onstage, which were rivaled by the various stages of exuberance dotting the audience. Julie Macklowe’s thick crystal necklace was so heavy she had to take it off part-way through.

“Can you believe he tried to dress me in fake diamonds?” she teased as she handed the jewelry piece over to Zang Toi, its designer.


Jennifer Esposito wore a rather perplexing feathered headband and philanthropist Jean Shafiroff’s blue ballgown was so big it needed its own row.

“I’ve met everyone in this dress!” she exclaimed.


After Adina and Nemorino finally found love (sorry, spoiler alert), guests made their way to the dinner tent, which resembled a Tuscan farmhouse with sunflower centerpieces, beamed ceilings and cutting boards of charcuterie and cheese.

Photos: Ron Berard and Marty Sohl / Metropolitan Opera