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Scene Last Night: Joe Torre, Neubauers at Bat on Met Opera Gala

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Joseph Neubauer, chairman of Aramark Corp., and Robert J. Zimmer, president of the University of Chicago. Neubuaer is a graduate of its business school. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

May 6 (Bloomberg) -- At a benefit for the Metropolitan Opera last night, Joe Torre noted the connection between opera and baseball.

“I think it’s the drama,” said the former player and manager, who has a baseball signed by Pavarotti from the time Hall of Famer Stan Musial took him to see “Tosca.”

“Missing a high C is sort of like striking out with the bases loaded,” added Peter Gelb, Met general manager.

All evening, guests worked the analogies in honor of Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer, a Met Opera trustee, and Joseph Neubauer, chairman of Aramark Corp., which runs food service at 11 Major League Baseball stadiums.

The couple brought singers and Hall of Famers together to set a fundraising record for the On Stage at the Met benefit: $3.6 million. The 450 guests attending included billionaire investor Wilbur Ross Jr., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. managing director Sanjeev Mehra, Comcast Corp. Chief Executive Brian Roberts, and DirecTV CEO Michael White.

Dinner took place in the company’s acclaimed Las Vegas-themed “Rigoletto” sets -- walls of lit-up dice, martini glasses and palm trees. Mercedes Bass in yellow, Ann Ziff in baby blue, fit right in.

Glorious Food provided shrimp in a payaya half, followed by spring lamb and chocolate souffle. Terry Lundgren, CEO of Macy’s Inc., and his wife Tina ate heartily, having done the TD Five Boro Bike Ride earlier in the day on behalf of Ronald McDonald House.

Rising Star

The entertainment included rising star Isabel Leonard, who joined Danielle de Niese for a flirtatious duet from “Cosi Fan Tutte.” Jay Hunter Morris and Patricia Racette stepped out with “Tosca,” and Morris kept the baseball theme going with “Heart” from “Damn Yankees.”

After dessert, before dancing, the couple recalled the enthusiastic nudging they’d received to support the Met from Robert J. Callender, a “baseball nut,” and also Leonard Coleman, a board member of both the Met Opera and Aramark Corp.

“Len never stops reminding me how much opera and baseball have in common,” Neubauer said. “How stars in stage and field have to be functioning at their personal best no matter what -- after all, their fans buy tickets to watch.”

The evening ended with Torre, an executive at Major League Baseball, and the honorees leading guests in “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

“Now you can go home saying you’ve sung on the stage of the Met,” Neubauer said.

As for the Yankees? “They’re holding their own right now,” Torre said off-stage. “They’ve been beat up. As long as nobody is running off and hiding anywhere, when they get healthy I think they’ll be in a pretty good position. But I’m not allowed to root for anyone anymore.”

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

Muse highlights include Manuela Hoelterhoff on opera, Jorg von Uthmann on Paris art and Elin McCoy on wine.

To contact the writer on this story: Amanda Gordon at agordon01@bloomberg.net or on Twitter @amandagordon.

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

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