The Met’s First Opera Preview

The Met’s First Opera Preview

Costuming ‘The Hours’ at the Met: Vintage Wallpaper and ’90s Calvin Klein Underwear

Last night’s preview of The Hours for the Met brought back some memories I had as a child and a teenager of coming here in September dressed as my aunt, who was in the cast, and my cousins, who performed the live show and were here for New York City Opera’s first season back in 1997. I was just a young teen at the time, but I can still remember the excitement and the chaos of dressing up in my best vintage corsetry from the ’50s. One of the outfits I wore was a ’50s-style dress, with corsets, a full, low-cut brassiere, and the black, lace-up boots that would be my costume for the rest of the evening.

The preview was the first time I had ever paid to see a Met production—all the rest of the nights I watched the Met perform opera from the grandstand with my mom. The way I felt about the event, watching with my mother as we waited in the cold to get in was like a dream come true. We watched the first previews of Peter Sellars’s production of The Magic Flute live, then moved into the ballroom in a freezing, snowy, foggy November night. We sat on the red velvet banquette in our parkas under the chandeliers. As a kid, my mom would say, “Who needs a coat in November?” The cast sat along the wall and I sat directly in front of the orchestra section.

“Who needs a coat in November?” she would continue when I asked what we should do. I’d point to the “Protean” wall mural in the background that read “The Protean.” She said, “Why would you want to wear a coat in November?”

“Well, look at that. Look how they are all dressed up in coats and coats and coats,” I’d reason with my mom as we waited for the orchestra to begin our first act of opera. I don’t think anyone realized how cold it would be outside. All we had on were two blankets that were tied together with an old scarf, and my coat was pulled onto my lap.

As the first opera began, I

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