Thursday, November 1, 2007

Metropolitan Opera

There's a really outstanding contemporary art exhibition in the gallery at the Metropolitan Opera house here in New York. On view are works on paper, collage and mixed media by Guillermo Kuitca:
The works display a perfect balance between aesthetics and concept. Coincidentally I just came across a copy of the "Official Guide Book" to the opera house that was published when the building was completed in 1966-67. The descriptions of the design and lavish materials used are really interesting: bianco de nieve, travertine and cremo marble; 23K gold leaf; silk velvet handrails supported by posts of crystal balls on polished bronze; book-matched teak paneling, etc. There is a photograph (below) of the Eleanor Belmont Room, a sort-of VIP lounge, named after the founder of the Opera Guild. The room was designed by Billy Baldwin and has glazed pearwood walls, a portrait of Mrs. Belmont by Simon Elwes and . . . well the picture says it all. The guide book describes, but does not illustrate the Opera Club (a private dining room) designed by Angelo Donghia and the executive offices designed by Mario Buatta. Maybe someone out there can let me know whether these (now historic) interiors are still intact. On a personal note, my uncle, Philip Rosenberg, the well-known film production designer, began his career as an assistant to Eugene Berman designing sets at the Met. Berman also got him a job assisting Marcel Vertes on his murals at the Cafe Carlyle. On another personal note, I spent alot of time at Lincoln Center as a child attending the Little People's concerts. I'm not sure that the music had such a big influence on me but the modern architecture and luxurious ambiance had a very strong impact on my sensibility.

Eleanor Belmont Room, Metropolitan Opera House, New York