Footlights at the Met – A Peek Behind the Curtain with International Costume Designer Charles Caine Historic Theatrical Fashions, Jewelry and Memorabilia

Photograph of Woman in Historical Costume

Do artifacts make the artist? Can tiaras and swashbuckling ensembles make the star?

Couture meets backstage drama in an afternoon presented by Close Encounters With Music and The Mount, as international costume designer Charles Caine offers a “behind-the-scenes” look at the Met and relates his experiences with such artists as Maria Callas, Beverly Sills, and Marc Chagall. The presentation features the actual tiara and necklace jewelry for Renata Scotto’s Tosca, the bodice of the Franco Zeffirelli designed dress worn by Leontyne Price as Cleopatra, and the actual historic Carmen shawl, worn by Madame Calve, a famous Carmen of the 1890’s.

The talk takes place at Edith Wharton’s Estate and Gardens Sunday, November 10 at 4 PM. Caine will open the curtain on what goes into the dressing and packaging of divas as they appear in opera houses around the world, focusing especially on the venerable Metropolitan Opera in New York City, where he started his career, and continued as resident costume designer for 16 seasons. Since then he has designed for many other opera companies, including Canadian Opera, Montreal Opera, San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, Chicago Lyric, Washington Opera, Philadelphia, Dallas, Houston, and Miami. His designs have appeared in the acclaimed PBS-TV production of “Luisa Miller” starring Domingo, Milnes and Scotto.

“Footlights at the Met” is part of a series of intimate and stimulating conversations about music and ideas, an intrinsic part of the Close Encounters With Music season. “Conversations With…” has presented such notable speakers as writer, editor and Bob Dylan biographer Seth Rogovoy; composer, National Endowment grantee and Guggenheim fellow Judith Zaimont; pianist-authors Walter Ponce and Adam Neiman; Emmy Award-winning animator, illustrator, cartoonist and children’s book author R.O. Blechman; art restorer David Bull; Academy Award nominee Daniel Anker; scholar/performer/multimedia artist Robert Winter; former Yankee, author and sportscaster Jim Bouton; and award-winning poet Charles Coe.

Tickets for this event are $15 and are available on the Close Encounters website – or at 800-843-0778. Refreshments, courtesy of Chocolate Springs, are included following the presentation.

Close Encounters With Music stands at the intersection of music, art and the vast richness of Western culture. Entertaining, erudite and lively commentary from founder and Artistic director Yehuda Hanani puts composers and their times in perspective to enrich the concert experience. Since the inception of its Commissioning Project in 2001, CEWM has worked with the most distinguished composers of our time: Paul Schoenfield, Osvaldo Golijov, Lera Auerbach, Jorge Martin, John Musto, among others to create important new works that have already taken their place in the chamber music canon and on CD. A core of brilliant performers includes pianists James Tocco, Adam Neiman, Walter Ponce and Jeffrey Swann; violinists Shmuel Ashkenasi, Yehonatan Berick, Vadim Gluzman and Toby Appel; harpsichordist Lionel Party; clarinetists Alexander Fiterstein, Charles Neidich; vocalists Dawn Upshaw, Amy Burton, Jennifer Aylmer, Robert White, Lucille Beer and William Sharp; the Vermeer, Amernet, Muir, Manhattan, Avalon, Hugo Wolf quartets, and Cuarteto Latinamericano; and guitarist Eliot Fisk. Choreographer David Parsons and actors Richard Chamberlain, Jane Alexander and Sigourney Weaver have also appeared as guests, weaving narration and dance into the fabric of the programs.

The Mount is the turn-of-the-century home that Edith Wharton designed and built in Lenox, MA, based on the precepts outlined in her 1897 book The Decoration of Houses, co-authored with architect Ogden Codman, Jr. A perfect example of the newly dawned American Renaissance, the classical revival house and its formal gardens represent the only full expression of Wharton’s architectural and landscape architectural theories. Only five percent of National Historic Landmarks are dedicated to women, and The Mount is one of them.