Behind the Elixir

We are now two weeks away from the most sought after cultural party of the year. Operanation will attract anyone who is anyone from all over the city and beyond. We can only imagine the preparation and planning behind an event like this so who better to ask than this year’s co-chair Randi Bergman. 

The talented freelance writer and editor, too, is no stranger to the Operanation scene. Since 2014, she has been co-chairing; this year, along with Kristen Burke and Ben Kizemchuk. What is there not to like about planning something so extravagant – right? “I love seeing all the ideas coming to light and watching people discover them for the first time. The Four Seasons Centre is also just such a beautiful venue – it feels very surreal to watch that many people engaging with your concepts”, says Bergman.  So, where do you even begin?

MC: What inspired this year’s theme?

RB: The theme always begins with the year’s selected opera. This year’s is Elixir of Love, which centres around a travelling salesman selling not-so-legit love potions. We took the idea of the mysterious potion and ran with it – creating this very surreal idea of a cabinet of curiosities opening for the night. You never know what you’ll find!

MC: Can you share some of your top priorities when it comes to planning Operanation?

RB: I spearhead all things creative for the event, so that means everything from the theme to the decor to the activations. I work really closely with the COC team (they’re the ones who do the REAL work!) as well as the committee to dream up ideas that will be engaging, fresh and super fun for the crowd.

MC: We have to ask you as well what your favourite opera is.

RB: I am far from an opera expert. Probably something really obvious like La Boheme or La Traviata.

Tickets can be purchase online or by calling COC Ticket Services at 416-363-8231. 
*Randi’s photo courtesy of Jenna Marie Wakani

A night of fashion curiosities

This year’s Operanation will be an evening full of curiosities – and, of course, a night where party goers will be surrounded by both opera as well as fashion aficionados. Yes, many like to compare this event to the Met Gala. There is no doubt, that when it comes to the arts and fashion, the sky is the limit when it comes to creativity.

Fashion editor for the Globe and Mail, Odessa Paloma Parker, is on the committee and has been an avid supporter and party goer herself for many years. “Operanation is a chance for people who are passionate about the arts and creativity to come together for a good cause. Fashion is an extremely creative field, and there are perfectly complementary aspects in opera – the grandiose story lines, the attention to detail, the divas! You can’t find an art form more chic”.

A former vocal student herself, Parker studied at the Royal Conservatory for several years and at one point wanted to pursue a career as an opera singer. With both music and style running through her veins, I had to pin her down and ask about what she hopes to see for this year and more.

We have so many local designers to choose from when it comes to evening wear. What would you recommend?

It would be amazing to see someone wearing something custom by Matthew Gallagher, perhaps with some vibe-y crystal details – he makes such opulent pieces that are perfect for events like Operanation. Greta Constantine is always a must for occasion dressing, and I would love to see someone wearing one of their colourful sheer looks from the spring 2017 collection. And Sid Neigum made a stunning bronze draped dress for his fall line that would be a very dynamic choice.

What about your past looks?

I really loved wearing a lace gown by Unttld last year, as well as a tie-dye vintage dress with velvet bolero jacket a few years ago. A friend described me as the “female Jimi Hendrix”.

What would be the perfect ensemble for you?

Well, there are some exceptionally witchy pieces in the spring collection from Preen by Thornton Bregazzi. I think, given the esoteric theme for this year’s event, something very mystical would be appropriate. I would top the look off with some incredible jewellery by Alan Anderson and a pair of custom silver boots by Modern Vice.
And, of course, I must ask another very important question – do you have a favourite opera?

It’s a toss up between Tosca and The Marriage of Figaro.

Tickets can be purchase online or by calling COC Ticket Services at 416-363-8231. 

A Night of Fashionable Curiosities

I like to think that there is an opera lover in all of us. Not everyone can handle the intensity of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, let’s say, but a little buffa can definitely tickle everyone’s fancy. Now imagine three floors full of luminaries and cultural trendsetters from the worlds of fashion, business, television, and music all to support Toronto’s next generation of opera artists.

As one of the top spring social events of the season, The Canadian Opera Company will, once again, bring Operanation to life on May 25th. A party not to be missed, this year’s theme will bring forth an evening of enticing elixirs, culinary experiments, and musical hybrids.

On top of the amazing performances in store, here’s another important question – what do you wear? Couturier Rosemarie Umetsu is not only a designer to some of the world’s top classical artists but she is a continuous supporter of the COC. “Operanation is a great example of a gala that has incorporated popular culture, attracting a new demographic interested in this art form as well as the opera company’s prestigious ensemble program”.

Having dressed and designed for past participating performers and attendees, Umetsu says, “this is the kind of evening where you want to be theatrical and visually spectacular. I’ve also been commissioned to create pieces for non-artist guests. In these instances, it’s been great fun designing something within the scope of the theme of the specific Operanation. These pieces have always been fun and red carpet worthy”.

Operanation 2010
[From the left, COC artists including Wallis Giunta and Lauren Segal, to the right Rosemarie and Wayne Umetsu]

What would the designer like to see for this year? “A Night of Curiosities leaves a wide scope of imaginative and very individual interpretations. I expect to be surprised”.

Tickets available at

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Are you ready? The Canadian Opera Company’s premier fundraising event, Operanation, is back for its 13th year.  For arts patrons as well as the operacurious, Operanation presents a unique experience, equal parts party and performance, with special collaborations between classic and modern music and complementary art forms ranging from visual arts to fashion.

“The goal of Operanation is to showcase the versatility of opera,” says Alexander Neef, General Director of the Canadian Opera Company. “It is an incredibly dynamic art form that is continuously evolving both culturally and socially. It shouldn’t just be listened to – it should be experienced.”

Funds raised for Operanation are directed towards the COC’s Ensemble Studio, Canada’s premier training program for young opera professionals. Among the special guest artists who have performed at Operanation are Dragonette, Sam Roberts Band, Rufus Wainwright, Nelly Furtado, Austra, Broken Social Scene and the Arkells. This year, JUNO Award winning artist Kiesza is set to take the stage as the celebrity performer.

This year’s theme is “A Night of Curiosities,” drawing inspiration from Gaetano Donizetti’s opera, The Elixir of Love, where a mysterious traveling salesman disguises wine as powerful potions and enticing elixirs and will take place on May 25th.

Operanations Past