Loving opera is “almost geeky,” said jewelry designer Tina Tang.
Just how geeky became clear at the reception last night for members of the Metropolitan Opera’s Young Associates group, a program for patrons between the ages of 21 and 45.
“They’re 100 people in the pit, 60 to 70 people in the choir, 7 or 8 leads,” said Ethan Litwin, a partner at Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP. “It is incredibly hard for all these elements to come together. But when it happens, it’s transcendent.”
Litwin has been coming to the Met since he was eight. “La Traviata” was his first, then came a Poulenc opera starring Catherine Malfitano.
“Governor Carey attended and his wife was wearing the most amazing necklace of emeralds,” Litwin said. “I remember it.”
As for last night’s event, the Met Opera press office had cautioned that it would be different from the “fancy galas” attended by Met Opera board members such as Mercedes Bass, Bruce Kovner and Ann Ziff.
The Revlon Bar, for example, would only be serving wine and Amstel Light, Met Opera press manager Sam Neuman had written in an e-mail.
As it turned out, there were also trout canapes.
The crowd was swell enough.
World Monuments Fund senior program associate Pauline Eveillard, whose parents are financial-industry veterans Jean-Marie Eveillard and Betty Eveillard, arrived with Douglas Gould, a restructuring associate at Kirkland & Ellis LLP.
“I used to go to the opera with my grandma,” Gould said as he admired his date.
Andrew Urbanski, a vice president at Morgan Stanley, discovered the Met through a phone solicitation.
“I started off in the business cold calling,” Urbanski said. “So I took pity on this guy. Fortunately I was having a good month, so I said, ‘I’m in.’”
The first opera Urbanski saw was “La Boheme,” “because I’d seen ‘Rent’ twice,” he said.
Members of the Young Associates pay from $600 to $2,500 annually. Perks include receptions before five performances a year (last night’s was the Baroque pastiche “Enchanted Island”), as well as behind-the-scenes tours and talks. The group has 300 households on its roster, said Naomi Weinstock, assistant director of patron program and membership.
Weinstock occasionally makes special arrangements for members, as when Matt Enos decided he wanted to propose marriage at a performance of “Romeo and Juliet.”
“They set up a table for us during intermission and served Champagne,” Enos, vice president of global operations at Underscore Marketing LLC, said.
His girlfriend, who’d studied classical voice in college, said yes. They were married in October.
“I never thought I’d meet a dude who liked going to the opera,” said Kristina Enos, a marketing associate at the accounting firm Friedman LLP.
It took some getting used to.
“I was bummed to learn that most people die at the end,” Enos said.
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)