On Stage At The Met Gala 2024 Honoring Barbara Tober

June 7, 2024

On Monday night, the Metropolitan Opera honored Barbara Tober at their annual On Stage at the Met Gala. 

Benefit Chairman was Peter Marino, the Co-Chairman was Frank Sciame, with Leadership Committee members Deborah Borda, Joel Ehrenkranz, Isabelle Harnoncourt Feigen, Carole Bailey French and John French III, Agnes Hsu-Tang and Oscar Tang, Judy and Leonard Lauder, Daisy M. Soros, and Henry Timms.

“… life’s soaring passions of love, hate and longing, began to influence my world.”

The capacity crowd was seated on stage surrounded by the sets of Puccini’s final opera Turandot, designed by the legendary Franco Zeffirelli. The honoree declared, “You may ask yourself why Barbara Tober – NOT an opera singer – is On Stage at The Met tonight. Good question! I have been going to the Opera since I was eight years old. I began to appreciate the music and the power of the stories as I grew older. That power, and life’s soaring passions of love, hate and longing, began to influence my world. Then, sad reality came crashing in a few years ago and I dedicated those seven glorious Lobmeyr lobby chandeliers to my beloved husband Donald after he passed away in January 2021, so his spirit could forever soar with the music he loved so much. Opera is about the blood and guts of life, and the essence of humanity’s passions, emotions, and exhilarations. It is where reality and fantasy blend dramatically to move the soul as well as one’s aesthetic senses. Thirty years as editor-in-chief of Brides magazine convinced me that love does indeed ‘move mountains’ and hate can separate the very oceans of humanity. For that very reason, the stars of the opera are passionately committed to their art, their voices, and to the responsibility they have to their audiences all over the world.”

The Turandot set – an Italian fantasy, set in a fairy tale China, that ends in a grand wedding – was fitting for the former editor of Brides magazine. There was a table for Barbara’s past colleagues, as well as a table for her personal staff who she endearingly calls “Toberville.”

“I am thrilled to announce this year we have raised over $1.5 million!” said Ann Ziff, Chairman of the Metropolitan Opera’s Board of Directors. “While we are here basking under the glow of the Donald Gibbs Tober chandeliers, I would like to take this opportunity to recognize our gala leaders who have helped bring this evening together and make it such a success, including Elizabeth Segerstrom, who joined Barbara and me as Gala Underwriter. Quite a few of you here tonight are regular attendees of On Stage at the Met.  I want you to know how much we appreciate your dedicated support of this unique event. It is always a pleasure to share our phenomenal stage with our loyal Patrons and good friends. I encourage you to keep coming back. And for those of you visiting the Met for the first time tonight, I hope to see you return many times in the future.”

“We’re honoring a legend in her own time, one of the Met’s most loyal patrons and a true Renaissance woman, Barbara Tober,” said Peter Gelb, the Metropolitan Opera’s Maria Manetti Shrem General Manager. “It was on this historic stage that Barbara and her beloved late husband Donald danced the night away at past galas, and where Luciano Pavarotti and Leontyne Price once reigned. The Met will continue to flourish thanks to the support, devotion, and generosity of Barbara and everyone in this room.” 

The evening included performances by Met stars SeokJong Baek, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Ryan Speedo Green, Clémentine Margaine, Ailyn Pérez, and Elena Villalón. 

Sitting on stage were over 400 guests including Afsaneh Akhtari, Marika and Neil Bender, Gigi and Harry Benson, soprano Angel Blue, Millie Bratten and John Bratten, Tina Berrero, City Council Member Gala Brewer, Joan Hardy Clark, Bonnie Comley and Stewart Lane, Suzi Cordish, Judith-Ann Corrente, NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo, Machine Dazzle, Layla Diba, Joel Ehrenkranz, Elizabeth and Jean-Marie Eveillard, Alexandra Fairweather and Eric Goodman, Prudence Fairweather, soprano Renée Fleming, Lee Fryd, April Gow, Susan Gutfreund, Sylvia Hemingway, Marifé Hernandez and Joel Bell, bass Soloman Howard, Susan Jaffe, Yue-Sai Kan, Angela and Thomas Keesee, LaVon Kellner and Tom Roush, Michele Gerber Klein, Helen Little, Tinu Naija, Philippe Petit and Judith Friedlaender, Sana Sabbagh, Adrianne and William Silver, Tommy Soros, Ruben Toledo, Andrew Martin Weber, Jacqueline Weld, Damian Woetzel, and Marcella Guarino Hymowitz (dressed in a vintage 70’s Bob Mackie creation originally for Lauren Hutton).

The Metropolitan Opera

Under the leadership of Peter Gelb, the Met’s Maria Manetti Shrem General Manager, and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer Music Director, the Metropolitan Opera is one of America’s leading performing arts organizations and a vibrant home for the world’s most creative and talented artists, including singers, conductors, composers, orchestra musicians, stage directors, designers, visual artists, choreographers, and dancers. The company presents approximately 200 performances each season of a wide variety of operas, ranging from early masterpieces to contemporary works. In recent years, the Met has launched many initiatives designed to make opera more accessible, most prominently the Live in HD series of cinema transmissions, which dramatically expands the Met audience by allowing select performances to be seen in more than 50 countries around the world.

Photo credit: by BFA and PMC/Getty 

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