Scene Last Night: Kovner, Henry VIII, Ackermann, Anna Netrebko

Metropolitan Opera
Henry Kissinger, Met Opera General Manager Peter Gelb, bass-baritone Erwin Schrott, soprano Anna Netrebko, Sid Bass, Mercedes Bass and Oscar de la Renta. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

“Let’s just say, I think this is my time,” Anna Netrebko suggested after her performance in “Anna Bolena” at the Metropolitan Opera’s opening gala last night.

“Tomorrow it’s going to be someone else’s.”

Netrebko sang in a new staging of Donizetti’s opera about Anne Boleyn, whose beheading started a trend at the court of Henry VIII.

Netrebko had taken her seat at the post-performance supper. The meal was spiced lamb and pearl couscous. The decor included giant banners of Holbein paintings, candlelight and bowls filled with flowers, grapes and pears.

It was a sumptuous conclusion to Anna’s final mad moments when she swept her long hair away from her neck and ran off to her beheading.

Netrebko, seated next to her director, David McVicar, recalled staging the moment.

“We worked together, and we came up with the simplest solution,” McVicar said.

“He is the one who decides,” Netrebko said. “What I work on, is if I have enough rings on my fingers to really sparkle.”

“She is the true queen of the opera,” Mercedes Bass, chairman of the gala and wife of oil billionaire Sid Bass said, as waiters passed around sherry trifle. “She controls the stage.”

The Basses funded the production, the Met’s first of the opera. The Met plans to produce Donizetti’s two other Tudor operas, even though Netrebko has declined to sing in them.

Josef Ackermann

Bruce Kovner, who recently announced he is retiring from his hedge fund Caxton Associates LP, said he remembers seeing the Donizetti queen operas with Beverly Sills at New York City Opera.

“I was just out of grad school and I thought, this is really living,” said Kovner, a Metropolitan Opera board member and chairman of the Juilliard School. The Met production was “different but wonderful,” he later added.

The Met’s opening night once again drew the support of Deutsche Bank AG, whose chairman and chief executive, Josef Ackermann, said he was happy to be there.

“My head is full of the debt crisis,” Ackermann said. “I’m happy to relax at least for an evening.”

For tenor Stephen Costello, the night was also an early celebration of his 30th birthday, which included distinguished singer friends breaking out in a rendition of “Happy Birthday.”

Sher’s ‘Funny Girl’

Among the 1,100 guests at the gala supper, served in a tent on the Lincoln Center campus, were Kevin Kennedy, of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the incoming president of the Metropolitan Opera; Willem Kooyker, founder of commodity hedge fund Blenheim Capital Management; George Weiss, founder of Weiss International Management; theater and opera director Bartlett Sher, who’s bringing “Funny Girl” to Broadway; and model Tyra Banks, author of the recently released teen novel “Modelland.”

Actress Leelee Sobieski said she hasn’t played a queen but she’d like to. “Essex and Elizabeth” with Bette Davis is one of her favorite movies.

The event raised $5.3 million.

“All of us lost our heads over this performance,” said Peter Gelb, general manager of the Metropolitan Opera.

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

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