Met Opens; Queen in Attendance


Metropolitan Opera top dog Peter Gelb wants the company’s opening night to feature a new production, but the house’s reigning diva, Renee Fleming, couldn’t learn a new role in time so last night’s opening featured acts from three of Flem’s favorite roles: Violetta in “Traviata,” Manon in “Manon,” and the Countess in “Capriccio.” She did her best singing in the last one: all those mannerisms that have crept into her voice recently were in abeyance. The glittering audience may have cared as much for Fleming’s fashions as for her singing: Christian Lacroix designed her gowns in act one, Karl Lagerfeld for act two, and John Galliano for the finale. For my money, though, the major glam in the house was provided by the Queen herself, Helen Mirren (pictured), who told me at intermission that, alas, there are no further plans for her to play Her Majesty. Mirren is focussed on playing Racine’s Phedra next year at London’s National Theater. “She won’t be a raging bitch,” Mirren said. “I’ve played enough of those to last three lifetimes.”

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