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Scene Last Night: Feinberg, Flowers Toast New Year at Met Gala

The cast of the Metropolitan Opera's new production of
The cast of the Metropolitan Opera's new production of "La Traviata" arrives to the gala supper following the performance. From left to right, Matthew Polenzani (Alfredo Germont); Marina Poplavskaya (Violetta Valéry) and Andrzej Dobber (Giorgio Germont). Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

    Jan. 1 (Bloomberg) -- J. Christopher Flowers shared his New Year’s resolution at the Metropolitan Opera’s gala performance of Verdi’s “La Traviata.”

“Make as much money as possible. Just kidding. I’m here for the glamour and the drama,” said the founder of the private-equity firm J.C. Flowers & Co.

The edgy new production starring Russian diva Marina Poplavskaya as the afflicted party girl attracted a full house, including Kenneth R. Feinberg, the president of the Washington National Opera who is also in charge of BP Plc’s $20 billion compensation fund.

Tickets to the performance and dinner cost $2,000 to $5,000.

Trailing in shortly before 7 p.m., were Natalie Portman, star of the ballet horror movie “Black Swan,” who arrived in slush boots accompanied by her co-star and fiance, Benjamin Millepied.

The melting snow made shoe choice difficult all around, though some women managed high red stilettos in a gesture to the preferred color of the production by director Willy Decker and designer Wolfgang Gussmann.

Decker dispenses with the 19th-century tassles and acres of sets featured in the Met’s last production of “La Traviata” by Franco Zeffirelli.

Perfect for the evening, it comes with a ready-made New Year’s wink-wink: a giant tilted clock. The very clear message (not just for Violetta): Time is always running out.

She Was Dead

By 9:45, she was dead after raving touchingly at sobbing tenor Matthew Polenzani and baritone Andrzej Dobber, his regretful father.

When the curtain descended, some 400 guests gathered on the Grand Tier for the dinner hosted by philanthropist Adrienne Arsht, which raised $900,000. The tables came with noise makers and masks.

“Celebrating the arts is the best way possible to ring in the New Year,” said Arsht.

One of her guests, Tyne Daly, who is playing a famed Violetta of the past, Maria Callas, in a New York staging of “Master Class” this spring, said she liked the sparseness of the staging. “I thought it allowed us to hear the music again. It’s something you think you know, but tonight I heard it in a new way and it was beautiful.”

Poplavskaya arrived to cheers and just in time for the first course of chestnut soup, followed by roasted loin of veal served with wild mushrooms and crushed Yukon potatoes.

A burst of fireworks on the balcony overlooking Lincoln Center announced a new year of fundraising. Guests left with a Letts calendar.

(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

To contact the writer on this story: Amanda Gordon at alougord@gmail.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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