This brooch is made with Swarovski crystals giving it a unique and fabulous sparkle. It was made by Lobmeyr in Austria. The brooch is based on the famous New York Met Sputnik chandeliers and when the Met moved to its new home at the Lincoln Centre in 1966 the original brooch was made as a gift for members of the planning team and guests of honour on opening night 16th September 1966. My brooch is a revival of this original and I bought it at the Met when I visited New York in 2017.
There are 32 chandeliers in total at the Met, 11 in the lobby and 21 in the main auditorium. There is a total of 49,000 Swarovski pieces of crystal. When you first take your seat the chandeliers hang down blocking the view, but just as the lights begin to go down they glide up silently. To watch the chandeliers in operation BBC Four produced a documentary entitled ‘America’s Greatest Opera House the story of the Met’ – right near the beginning (approx. 3.30 mins) there is footage of the chandeliers rising.
One of the 32 Met Opera Chandeliers
The idea for ultra-modern chandeliers came about by accident. Tad Leski, one of the architects working on the Lincoln Centre project was completing a sketch for a meeting with the Met director Mr Bing, when he accidently spattered some white ink from his drawing pen onto the paper. There was no time to re do the drawing so Tad Leski joined up the splatter dots and the idea for the chandeliers was born. Design and construction of the chandeliers was given to Hans Harald Rath of J&J Lobmeyr in Vienna. The Lobmeyr crystal company was founded in 1823, Hans Harald Rath was a descendant of the original Lobmeyr. Today the company is run by a sixth generation of Lobmeyr descendants. Lobmeyr chandeliers are found in the Kremlin, mosques in Mecca and Medina and three palaces in Kuwait. The original chandeliers were a gift to the Lincoln Centre from the Austrian government a “glittering symbol of the friendship between Austria and the United Sates” In 2008 the chandeliers were completely dismantled, crystal by crystal, packed into 15 crates and then onto three aeroplanes and sent back to Austria for a complete overhaul and repair. This took ten weeks.
The Met opened on 16th September 1966 with a new production of Antony & Cleopatra by the American composer Samuel Barber with American soprano Leontyne Price in the title role.
Leontyne Price as Cleopatra in September 1966
On opening night the chandeliers had competition from the audience. Marylou Whitney’s tiara had 1,900 diamonds and 75 rubies and Estée Lauder wore a gold-and-diamond crown described as “suitable for Queen Elizabeth II.”