Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Met Is Dead! Long Live The Met!

Lily Pons bows graciously onstage at her curtain call,
while at the Closing Gala of the Metropolitan Opera.
On April 16, 1966, over 3,000 people packed the gilded auditorium of the massive Metropolitan Opera House on Broadway for it's Farewell Gala. A line-up of the Met's finest operatic stars would be featured that night, with curtain calls from some of their oldest singers. The long-time patrons gathered in their lush, golden first-tier boxes, collectively known as "The Diamond Horseshoe", named in honor of the 200-stone diamond necklace so frequently worn by Caroline Astor, almost 70 years ago! 

The gilded auditorium of the Metropolitan Opera on the night of their
Farewell Gala. 

Many of the Met's oldest families were represented that night. Cornelius V. Whitney (whose grandfathers Cornelius Vanderbilt II and William C Whitney had helped find the Met) was present, along with his wife, Marylou. Another Met stalwart, Mrs. John Barry Ryan (whose father, Otto Kahn, had started looking for the Met's new home in 1908) was also present, though arrived late. 

Among the A-List notables in attendance were retired heavyweight champion Gene Tunney; former opera singer Rise Stevens; sportsman Ogden Phipps; Mrs. Joseph P. Kennedy (mother of JFK); Mrs. August Belmont; Prince Michael and Princess Marina of Greece; Brooke Astor, a New York philanthropist;  Winthrop W. Aldrich;  Mrs. William C. Langley (Jane Pickens); Lewis W. Douglas, former Ambassador to the Court of St. James; Governor Walter J. Kohler Jr. of Wisconsin; and Mr. and Mrs. Henry duPont.  

With tickets costing $200 a head, the evening netted $292,000 for the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Company, which had taken over control of the Opera House in the 1940's from the wealthy families that owned private boxes. 

"I paid $200 for my seat, and I can't even get a program!!" one disgruntled man complained. 

To read my original post on the closing gala, which features photographs of the even, courtesy of LIFE Magazine, please click HERE.

To read the program of the farewell gala, which that disgruntled man can now read online, please click HERE.

Please also visit my Pinterest boards on the subject, by clicking HERE and HERE.

Also, please visit Gilded Age Era's Facebook Page and show your support by giving us a like. 


  1. Sad, while an ugly duckling on the outside the auditorium was spectacular and should never have been torn down.


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