By Anna Sekula Posted September 29, 2011, 2:15 PM EDT
With the debut of its production of Gaetano Donizetti's Anna Bolena—the tale of Henry VIII's second wife, Anne Boleyn—it only seemed fitting that the opening night gala for the Metropolitan Opera's new season referenced the 16th-century architecture of Tudor England. Inside the Tent at Lincoln Center, the seated affair for 1,100 guests on Monday was designed and produced by David Stark and flaunted period-specific decor inspired by the staging and costumes of the premiere performance. Key to the scenery were fabric panels—image crops of German artist Hans Holbein the Younger's paintings of characters and objects central to the opera—suspended from the ceiling and lit by Bentley Meeker's team to look like stained-glass windows. To enhance the effect, the production team also draped the walls and ceiling with billowing ivory material and washed the surface with amber lighting.
To further complete the tableau, Stark dressed the tables with still-life arrangements of autumn fruits, grapevine, garden roses, dahlias, antique votives and garden urns, and metal candelabra topped with pillar candles that matched the circular iron chandeliers, from Restoration Hardware.