Elena Kagan Hasn’t Read Moby-Dick

C. H. Simonds Co

An illustration from an early edition of “Moby-Dick,” 1892.

“It’s good to be back, ” billionaire Jacqueline Badger Mars, heiress to the Mars candy fortune, said Saturday night at the Kennedy Center.

Mars, 74, a leading Washington arts patron, has kept a low profile since she ran into a minivan in October after falling asleep behind the wheel of her Porsche SUV.

The accident, which happened near her home in Virginia, killed an elderly woman and caused the van’s driver to miscarry at eight months.

Mars pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of reckless driving in December, but was not given any jail time.

“It was a tough autumn,” she said at the post-show reception for Moby-Dick, making its East Coast debut with the Washington National Opera.

Mars and General Dynamics CEO Phebe Novakovic are the major sponsors of the production, and greeted opera regulars such as Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan.

Ocean blue cocktails and mussels were served in a nod to the great tale of the sea.

“I thought it was magnificent, ” Kagan said of the opera as she stood in the buffet line — admitting that she had never read the book by Herman Melville.

( She does, however, reread her favorite novel, Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” every year.)

Other guests included Librarian of Congress James Billington, former congressman Norm Dicks, and the opera’s composer, Jake Heggie.

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