by Diane Malone
26, Sept 2006

met opera caroline digonis

   For the first time in the Metropolitan Opera’s history, the Opening Night Gala Performance of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly on Monday, September 25th was presented free to thousands at Lincoln Center and Times Square through Panasonic AstroVision screens.

peter gelb caroline digonis   The new General Manager, Peter Gelb, wants to open the opera world to the mainstream public and help build new audiences by more exposure of this great and often overlooked area of entertainment.
   This highly innovative performance of Madame Butterfly first premiered in November 2005, at the English National Opera, and breaks away from the traditional version, with modern and colorful sets and the use of puppets in some areas of the opera. The production is being presented by Anthony Minghella, the Academy Award-winning film director. 
   Principal performers are Chilean soprano Cristina Gallardo-Domas as Cio-Cio-San and tenor Marcello Giordani as Pinkerton under the direction of James Levine, conductor. 

anthony minghella carolyn choa

   Among the star-studded celebrity gala were Jude Law, Sienna Miller, Zac Posen, Liv Tyler, Al Roker, Salman Rushdie, Padma Lakshmi, David Bowie and Iman, Donald and Melania Trump, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Liev Schreiber, Naomi Watts, Barbara Walters, Renee Fleming, Bebe Neuwirth, Rufus Wainwright, Julie Taymor, Meg Ryan, Sean Connery, Isaac Mizrahi, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Rudolph Giuliani. Longtime patron Mercedes Bass and her husband Sid were in attendance as well for a special toast during intermission in their honor for the largest single gift of $25 million given to the Met in its history. During intermission, the Grand Tier was renamed, in a cocktail toast, the Mercedes T. Bass Grand Tier.
   The evening was followed by a tented gala dinner in Damrosch park for opera patrons and a long list of the attending celebrity guests. 
   This opening premiere also marks the beginning of a new Metropolitan Opera channel on the Sirius Satellite Radio which will broadcast the seasons productions to the public. 
   This years opening was the beginnings of many firsts for the Metropolitan Opera under General Manager Peter Gelb. Aside from this production, many of the seasons productions are still the doings of the previous General Manager, Joseph Volpe. It will be awhile before we will experience the complete operatic choices of its new leader. In the meantime, we can look forward to the touch-of-hollywood opening nights.
iman sienna miller jude law meg ryan digonis liv tyler zac posen

All Photos: (c) Caroline P. Digonis 2006