‘Madama Butterfly’ at the Metropolitan Opera

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The New York Sun

Just as the crowd calmed down from all the evening’s excitement — puppets onstage, screens in Times Square, Sienna Miller floating through the Grand Tier, and a new gallery whose bright, chaotic canvases seemed to capture the mood — the chairwoman of the Metropolitan Opera, Christine Hunter, got their pulses racing again.

“Tonight we’ve raised $3.8 million. That’s 1 million above our past opening nights,” Ms. Hunter said near midnight in the supper tent as waiters plunked down plates of baby poussin.

The amount seemed appropriate given the number of wealthy New Yorkers gathered under the tent. The gala chairmen were Annette and Oscar de la Renta. Other patrons included Karen and Kevin Kennedy, Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis, Evelyn and Leonard Lauder, Ingeborg and Ira Leon Rennert, and Katherine Farley and Jerry Speyer. One of the key corporate contributors of the evening was Deutsche Bank.

For the first time all evening — instead of oohs and ahhs and rounds of applause — there was silence. The audience seemed to understand that bringing more money into the Met to fund all of the ideas of the new general manager, Peter Gelb, is an urgent matter.

Fortunately, sitting in the dinner chairs were a slew of New Yorkers who might be considered new donation sources: the celebrities, who seemed thrilled to be a part of the event.

The comedian Jimmy Fallon brought his deadpan humor to the proceedings. “This was my first opera,” he said. “It wasn’t as fun as I expected.”

Perhaps Mr. Fallon will return, for the premiere of the new production of “Il barbiere di Siviglia” on November 10; the world premiere of “The First Emperor” on December 21, and the 40th anniversary gala on April 3, 2007, featuring Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón.

The New York Sun

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