A Night at the Opera with Morgan Spector of The Gilded Age
On this season of HBO’s The Gilded Age, the Opera Wars of 1883 are heating up, pitting The Academy of Music against The Metropolitan Opera. Fittingly, the show’s resident hunk Morgan Spector attended the opening last Thursday of Wagner’s Tannhäuser at the real-life Met Opera House wearing a Kenzo look that made him feel like he was “in the mosh pit at the Tibetan Freedom Concert in 1997,” as he told our editor-in-chief Mel Ottenberg. As is often the case on the show, things did not go according to plan; the second act of Tannhäuser was interrupted by a demonstration held by the environmentalist group Extinction Rebellion. But that didn’t stop Spector from getting on the phone with us the next morning to talk about Horsegiirl420, his “uniquely generational familiarity” with cargo pants, and whether or not he’s able to breathe in his opulent Gilded Age wardrobe.
MEL OTTENBERG: Hey, Morgan.
MORGAN SPECTOR: Hi. Sorry, my link wasn’t working.
OTTENBERG: How are you doing?
SPECTOR: I’m good, thank you. How are you?
OTTENBERG: I’m great. Thank you for your sexy videos.
SPECTOR: You’re welcome. I was inspired. Thank you for introducing me to HorsegiirL240 via your Instagram feed.
OTTENBERG: You’re super welcome. You’ve got to listen to the kids.
SPECTOR: I’ve been a long time fan of the magazine, so it’s nice to finally consummate my infections.
OTTENBERG: Wait, last night seemed like quite the evening.
SPECTOR: Yeah, well I missed the big event, which was Extinction Rebellion [the environmentalist group] turning up at the opera. We had a great time, but during the second act, they shut the thing down.
OTTENBERG: Oh, wow. Well, for those who don’t know, you going to the Metropolitan Opera is extremely exciting and glamorous for a fan like myself, But I’m also a total hick when it comes to the opera.
SPECTOR: I have been a couple of times. My late mother-in-law was an international opera star and some of her friends who are still in my wife’s life are opera directors and opera choreographers, so we’ve had some opportunities to go. But mostly, I’m a total hick too. I’m not an opera aficionado, sadly.
OTTENBERG: Tell us what you were wearing last night. I love your look.
SPECTOR: Oh, thank you. I wore this long jacketed Kenzo suit which made me feel like I was in the mosh pit at the Tibetan Freedom Concert in 1997. But also very sophisticated. It’s an uncanny blend.
OTTENBERG: I, for one, could not pull it off. Do you think a heterosexual man needs to wear this outfit? How do you pull that off, sir?
SPECTOR: I think what it is is a uniquely generational familiarity with cargo pockets. I know the pain, I know the history of wearing cargo pants, and I had a pager in my pager pocket above my cargo pants. So I think it’s my deep, almost method preparation for wearing an ironic version of cargo pants that makes it all come together.
OTTENBERG: Okay, I see it. I mean, you look great in it. I want to ask you some questions about your clothes on the show. Are they uncomfortable or do you just feel great in them? ‘Cause they’re really good.
SPECTOR: They are built. Everything I wear is custom-made for me by seriously gifted artisans in Europe, I mean the way that they’ve sourced these clothes, They have found sort of the perfect craftsperson in the perfect place for every garment. There is a certain amount of necessary discomfort. I mean, the collars are high and very tight, but in terms of the fit of everything, the clothes fit better than anything I’ve ever worn in my life.
OTTENBERG: Does the grandeur and all that stuff help you act like Mr. Russell?
SPECTOR: I wear these coats and these waistcoats and I feel like a tank. I feel armored, like my shoulders are wider than usual when I move through a space. There’s this sense of being built for destruction. That’s very fun.
OTTENBERG: I get the vibe that you guys have a lot of fun shooting.
SPECTOR: There’s a lot of love between us as a cast and I think it’s because we’re all theater dorks and we never expected to have careers outside of regional plays, basically. We all thought we’d be doing the bus and truck production of Godspell until we were in our fifties. It is a persistent shock to all of us that we have a dressing room.
OTTENBERG: Oh, I love that. Congratulations. Can you tell me anything about the upcoming Opera Wars this season?
SPECTOR: The opera wars are heating up. It’s hard to say that it’s a spoiler when there is a Metropolitan opera and there isn’t an Academy of Music anymore. I think if you were putting money on it, you’d have to wager on Bertha.
OTTENBERG: Sick Bertha. We love Bertha. For an event like last night, where you wore this Kenzo, what are you looking for in a look?
SPECTOR: Well, last night was fun because last night the remit was kind of go big, go fashion, do something large. I think maybe I tend a little bit more naturally toward Classicism, but I like having that permission to do something that’s fun and a little bolder. I think the opera invites that too. You have to kind of rise to meet that standard.
OTTENBERG: Wow. It must’ve been really glamorous.
SPECTOR: It was glamorous. Nobody was playing. Everybody brought the heat. It was fun.
OTTENBERG: I love it and I love the videos that I just woke up to.
SPECTOR: I’m glad.
OTTENBERG: Have a great day. I’ll be tuning in on Sunday as the Opera Wars heat up.
Grooming: Rheanne White