Ancient Chinese secret, revealed

So, more scoop on that “emergency meeting” La Cieca hinted at yesterday. It seems that the costumes for the Met’s new production of The First Emperor arrived from China in the last couple of weeks. La Cieca is told that when the boxes were unpacked, the wardrobe staff complained of a strong chemical odor emanating from the garments. One worker, she hears, had to visit the hospital complaining of “serious respiratory problems,” other staffers report rashes, eye irritation and such. On Monday the costumes were transported to a large rehearsal room to “air out,” but, according to La Cieca’s source, the room “was reeking in about five minutes.”

Which brings us to yesterday’s meeting, which was chaired by no less than Joe Clark, which suggests that the Met is taking the situation very seriously. According to an attendee, the staff was assured that the costumes were being aired and laundered, even though no one knows for sure the exact nature of the irritant. “Testing” will continue for several weeks. Oh, and our source adds that even after the costumes were removed from the rehearsal room, the odor lingered on. In fact, La Cieca hears that the next group of singers scheduled to rehearse in the room refused to enter, the stink was so overwhelming.

The elephant in the middle of the room (metaphorically speaking, of course) is how Placido Domingo and the other First Emperor artists are going to react when they are asked to don these allegedy allergen-rich garments — and then sing for three hours.

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