At the beginning of Massenet’s Manon, curious villagers clamor for a view of well-dressed Parisian visitors. Something similar was happening offstage at the new production’s premiere at the Met last night. Yves Saint Laurent once again sponsored the gala opener, outfitting the likes of Dree Hemingway, Chloë Moretz, and Emma Roberts and giving regular ticket-holders plenty to observe before the curtain even went up. During the pre-show dinner on the grand tier, surely more than a few of the onlookers crowding the balconies were wishing they’d invested in a pair of opera glasses.
With Stefano Pilati’s recent departure, YSL CEO Paul Deneve took on extra hosting duties. Meanwhile, at a table of creative heavy hitters across the room, Chuck Close dined on sautéed sole with Patti Smith and Francesco and Alba Clemente. Patricia Clarkson, wearing a strapless velvet gown, declared herself “pumped” to see Anna Netrebko singing the title role. “I saw her in Anna Bolena and she was astonishing,” the actress recalled. “I know it’s this gala and I love the Met, and I love my YSL clothes—come on, I mean, gorgeous—I’m going to sleep in them, have sex in them. But I am truly beside myself about seeing her tonight.”
Also back in the spotlight with a season premiere: January Jones. “When I was a kid I liked to sing opera, only to annoy my father,” the Mad Men actress said during the first intermission, eyeing a plate of velour au chocolat. “I’m breast-feeding, so I’m always hungry,” she explained. With the performance slated to run until past 11 and an after-party downtown at Le Baron to follow, plenty of coffee was being poured. Few were inclined to end the evening early. To quote the libretto from Act Three, before pleasure-seeking Manon meets her tragic end: “After all, beauty should be enjoyed.”