“I’m frankly not too big on opera,” Jane Fonda confided at the opening of the Metropolitan Opera’s season last night. “I don’t like the inevitable tragic-ness of it.” Indeed, Lucia di Lammermoor was a major downer, although an entertaining one: Natalie Dessay, in the title role, brought down the house with a hair-raising mad scene. Has Jane ever lost it like that? “In a scene in a movie, but never in life,” she said. “My mother did that for me. I didn’t have to go there again.” Uh, okay, dead mother, we’re super-uncomfortable now. Oh, hey, it’s Barbara Walters!
“I don’t have public meltdowns,” she tells us. (With a whiff of Rosie judgment? We can’t really tell. Barbara is impenetrable.) “I don’t even have private meltdowns. I have a blue day here and there, but no meltdowns.” Cecilia Dean, the editor and founder of Visionaire, claims she, too, has a Zen-like demeanor. “I don’t get mad. I’m a very calm person,” she says. (Visionaire employees can confirm or contradict at firstname.lastname@example.org.) But that’s not to say her thoughts don’t run dark. “I could easily kill someone with these shoes,” she said thoughtfully, eyeing her spiky Rodarte heels. Right then! Moving on. Bob Balaban admits he can be fierce, and we don’t mean in the Tyra Banks sense. “Once I was directing [a TV show for Fox that never ran],” he says. “One night at 3 a.m. we had to cut a bunch of episodes quickly and someone around me started voicing what I was thinking, You’re never going to finish in time! And I became a lion — I started screaming and yelling.” Really? we thought. You? “It was pretty severe,” Balaban confirmed sheepishly. “People were like, ‘Are we being bombed or attacked?’ But it was me.” And Tovah Feldshuh gets points for admitting she very occasionally loses it with her kids in the manner of Mommy Dearest. “When they use bad judgment,” she explains, “the mother lion comes up, and you just want to take your claws and give that cub a shove.” She paused. “And a hug.” —Tim Murphy
Find out what other stars do to keep from going mad in our complete coverage of the Met’s opening night!