Through the artist’s eyes

Taking the stage as a classical artist is exciting and glamorous but it takes years of practice and dedication. Education plays a vital role in every performer’s musical career – I, too, know from experience. Singing or playing in front of people is the easy part. How you get this is another story.

With events like Operanation, aspiring students are given the chance to learn from the best in the business as they embark on a life-changing musical path. Yes, again, I may be biased, but there is nothing I love more than seeing the arts and education flourish together hand-in-hand.

Canadian Soprano, Simone Osborne has been hailed as “a joy to hear” (Los Angeles Times) with “a sweet and clear sound, sensitive phrasing and gleaming sustained high notes” (New York Times). As one of the youngest winners of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, she is also an alumni of the Canadian Opera Company Studio Ensemble. As an active attendee, we take a look from the artist’s point-of-view.

As an artist, define your interpretation of Operanation.

I have always seen Operanation as the COC’s invitation to a young generation of Torontonians who may have yet to experience the Four Seasons Centre and the operatic art form in all of its glory. It’s an incredible introduction to opera thanks to collaborative performances with pop musicians, creative exhibitions, amazing food and drinks at the most glamorous venue in the city. In short, it is a night where guests are welcomed in true COC style, and everyone leaves feeling welcome, inspired, excited and eager to return for a full blown performance. Operanation shows the whole city that opera is meant for everyone, regardless of age, income bracket or experience. It breaks down the walls and shows people just how accessible and sensational opera can be.

You are a graduate of the Ensemble Studio – what does the support of the Operanation event mean for all current members?

The success of Operanation makes a huge difference in the lives of the young Ensemble Studio singer. Becoming a professional opera singer takes time, dedication and an incredible team of experts to show you the way. The COC brings in the very best singing teachers, coaches, language specialists, agents and masterclass teachers from all over the world. It gives each young singer a stipend to take additional singing lessons and pays each singer a living wage so that they can spend all of their time and energy honing their craft. This would not be possible without the financial support that comes from Operanation every year. By buying a ticket to Operanation, you are directly impacting the lives and growth of these young Canadian artists.

 What is your favourite part about attending as well as hosting the VIP dinner?

I love the feeling of giving back to a company that has been unbelievably supportive of me and of my career. The dinner is always exquisitely curated with a creative theme, wonderful food and great company. It’s a perfect way to meet other interesting, young professionals with a love of the arts. It’s a real VIP experience with fabulous conversation, lots of laughs and some stunning private performances. 

What are your thoughts on this year’s theme?

I love a slightly general theme because it opens the floodgates for tons of creativity. The fashion at Operanation is ALWAYS a highlight, so I love that “A Night of Curiosities” leaves enough room for attendees to go in whichever direction they choose. It also lays the ground work for some brilliant artistic collaborations, creations and experiences over the course of the evening.

Can you share anything about your fashion choices for the evening’s festivities?

I’ve been living out of my suitcase for the past three months, so I had to pick up a new piece for Operanation this year. As the host, I like to blend in a bit rather than completely clash with the artists or other speakers, so I’ve decided on a black, sequined Aidan Maddox number which should do the trick for both the glam dinner portion and full blown party mode for the rest of the night. Usually, I like to wear Canadian designers to Operanation, (last year, I was fortunate enough to be dressed by The Room at the Hudson’s Bay, and was gifted a gorgeous Sid Neigum gown) but given my busy travel schedule this month, a quick shopping trip was all I could manage, and there wasn’t anything quite right within the Canadian designed options. Next year!

Finally, if you can (even though you’ve performed so many), what is your favourite opera?

It would be impossible to pick a favourite opera to see or hear, but my favourite to sing is “Lucia di Lammermoor”. What soprano doesn’t dream of a 20 minute ‘mad scene’, dressed in a huge white wedding gown, covered in blood from head to toe, and brandishing a dagger. To me, it’s the soprano pinnacle.

There’s still time to purchase tickets by going online or by calling COC Ticket Services at 416-363-8231. 

The Beauty of Basic

The retail world has never been as robust as it is today. From pop-ups to online shopping, there is something out there for everyone right at our fingertips. But at the same time, even though there may be something out there for everyone with countless places to choose from, what if you’re still finding what you want? Staples are a must for every wardrobe and even though many assume that a simple, cotton, white long sleeve top would be simple to find but is it really? Yes, there are high end brands that can provide the perfect cut but can everyone afford a $300 shirt? Is there a way to marry the realms of quality and cost efficiency? 15337394_1156093211143304_4531480585589984261_n

Heather Loduca knows that the struggle is real which is why she founded Crown + Pride. Being only a few months old, the Canadian brand has taken a stand on providing versatile pieces for work and play while also embracing quality and comfort. With her Aurora Sweater, Loduca has started with one basic piece that can go a long way. We sat down with her to chat about the beauty of basic and how, even when it comes to quality-driven, and runway-worthy essential pieces, you can have your cake and eat it too

MC: What gave you the inspiration for the name Crown + Pride?

HL: This is going to sound crazy, but I literally stood up one day and the name was sitting in the centre of my head. I thought to myself “I can’t just go with the very first thing I think of” so I made a list of about 40 other possibilities. As I was reading it over the only name that truly resonated with me was Crown + Pride. I felt it was cool, edgy, different, strong, confident with a feminine feel. Which are the exact traits my brand and clothing embody. I decided it was meant to be.

MC: Describe your brand and what you are aspiring to do with it.

HL: My brand is about being the most authentic version of yourself and supporting the idea that if you don’t like something about your life, speak up, get up and change it. Also supporting others who are doing that in their lives. From such a young age we learn fear, doubt and self consciousness and in my opinion, those are all things we’ve created in our minds. I want people and women in particular to feel supported to go out there and do anything they want, no matter how crazy it sounds.

MC: Why is it important to invest in quality basic staples in one’s wardrobe?

HL: I think basics are everything. They are the butter and sugar to a great baker. In order to create beautiful magic, versatility and a foundation for creativeness – starting with basics is a great first step. I think a lot of times we under estimate the value that a plain
white tee brings to our wardrobe and we might be inclined to spend the least amount of money on something like that. When in reality, it’ll be one of the most worn items. It’s about realizing value and matching how we invest in those items.

MC: How do your pieces, like the Aurora Sweater differentiate from other contemporary lines?

HL: Crown + Pride is all about basics with an edge. It’s appreciating how important and amazing basics are, but adding that personality and differentiators to them. With the Aurora sweater, the hems are unfinished giving it a bit more of a subtle rough look to it. For a warmer winter piece it has a more open neck with the option for it to be worn off the shoulder to incorporate a bit of sex appeal while still dressing for colder climates. The coolest thing is the sharp angle at the bottom of the sweater that highlights the woman’s shape and curve, and makes it even more versatile as it provides enough coverage for leggings, and it can also be worn with jeans, tucked into skirts and layered with other tops, jackets and vests. (check out my 30 day outfit challenge on IG for more reference). The goal with our basics is to really offer casual tops that because of the way they are
designed, are brought up to the next level and can be dressed up, it’s filling the space between casual and dressy.

MC: Please share more about your Spring/Summer ventures for C+P.

HL: Our next summer piece is currently being manufactured with a projected launch date of the first week of April, It’s a crop tee with some special edges of course and will come in black and white. It’ll be followed up by a dressier tank. We’ve already designed our fall 2017 pieces as well that will launch in September.

Camille VOST


With experiences behind brands such as Diane Von Furstenberg and The Row, Camille Prévost  is a name that everyone should start paying attention to this side of the Atlantic. Parisian at heart from head to toe, she graduated from L.I.S.A.A (L’institut des arts appliquées de Paris) with a first place award as Stylist-Designer (textile division). New York brought new opportunities where she worked for other designer greats feeding her passion for fine fabrics and high-end fashion. The need to create her own brand came to life with CAMILLE VOST.


MC: When did you first start your collection?

CV: I started to work on the collection when I was in New York City back in 2014. When I came back to Paris in 2015, I found the production in Italy and the project began. We officially launched the brand earlier this summer.

MC: What inspired you to focus on handbags in particular?

CV: I always had a handbag addiction. I studied ready-to-wear back in design school and I was always curious about working with materials such as leather and suede. And I’m completely satisfied with my choice today!


MC: From a design perspective, what creative process do you go through?

CV: I draw two collections of flaps per year and usually work on the collections from the images that I kept during my travels. For example, the colour combinations on the Jarod flaps are from the color nuances that I saw in the Amazonian desert.

I design two shapes of bags responding to the needs of the women of today: the Paulette is handy, perfect to fit your computer for example, and the Jarod is classy to wear every day at work or for a night out.


MC: What would be the ideal outfit combination when wearing one of your handbags?

CV: I like matching different styles together. The bags are definitely the chic touch of the outfit. You can mix them with a pair of jeans and sneakers or even a floral print dress for a bohemian look. Thanks to their simplicity, they are really easy to match with any style.

MC: Can you share a little bit with us on what you have in store for your next collection?

CV: I’m now finishing the winter collection with the production. All I can say is that there will be a large choice of exotic skins and embroideries, which will be the new touch for this collection.

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Meet Interior Designer Montana Labelle

Check out my interview with interior designer Montana Labelle for Condo Elite Magazine…

Montana LabelleMontana Labelle has established herself as one to watch in the Canadian design community by transforming interiors into timeless environments for modern living. Since the launch of her own design and lifestyle firm in 2013, she has garnered a tremendous following in the city and clients continue to seek her out. Labelle’s influence spans from residential designs to commercial projects as well as custom furniture design.

Condo Elite got a chance to dive even further into her fashion influenced perspective on luxurious interior style.

Q: What are your go-to steps when a client first approaches you to work on their space?

I always start off a project by getting to know the client on a personal level; from their likes, dislikes, favourite clothing designer, to their vacation spots, you name it. This helps me to understand more about the client’s dream interior. From there, we begin sourcing a few key pieces (typically from vintage websites such as to become the stand-out elements of the space. These stand-out elements usually become the inspiration for the entire project.


Q: You recently finished a project with The Remington Group. How did you plan out their model suites?

The Remington Group model suite was one of my favourite projects to date. With free reign on finish and furniture selections, I was really able to have fun and infuse the space with tremendous personality and drama. We began the project by putting together an overall idea board of colours and finishes that I envisioned would look great in the space. I sourced a pair of incredible black marble block side tables which became the inspiration for the rest of the interior. Nestled in the living room, the texture, style and colour of these side tables became the concept that drove the whole the project.

Q: How do you incorporate condo-friendly techniques when designing the interior of these spaces?

I try to approach every space with the same sense of scale, colour and texture. Often clients with condos purchase a lot of smaller furniture items, making the space feel even smaller and cluttered. Throwing away traditional rules for “smaller” interiors is the best way of achieving success. People shouldn’t be afraid of statement furniture and art which I think is very important in a condo. Larger pieces are visually more pleasing to the eye with the end result feeling a lot more grand – one of my favourite tricks. Finally, uncovered windows will draw the outside in and gives tremendous illusion of space and depth.


Q: How do you address what can be a typical challenge in condos, which is limited space?

The most difficult aspect of dealing with limited space is making it feel luxurious. Adding large mirrors, for example, adds an incredible element of drama and extravagance. Add contrasting colours to key accents like doors. I like to create visual interest that draws the eyes up, which makes the ceiling appear higher and the space larger.

Q: What current trends have caught your attention?

The use of rich and opulent textures in unexpected places is one of my favourite techniques for making a space feel tremendously luxurious. I also love the retro nod to the 1970’s that we’re seeing in many interiors today.

Photos courtesy of

For more information, please visit
Remington Group Inc.

View full article here!
Summer issue currently out!

The Summer of Wallis

There is nothing I love more than to support those whose work not only impresses audiences from all over but also has the power to make the next musical generation fall in love with classical legends. Wallis Giunta’s enthusiasm sparked my attention a few years back while working with her on an opera gala production at Roy Thomson Hall. To this day, this mezzo soprano still doesn’t cease to amaze me with her charm, creative enthusiasm and sense of style.

Wallis Giunta_Michael Edwards

This month Wallis will be going to her native city of Ottawa where she will participate in a celebratory performance honouring conductor Pinchas Zukerman as he marks a close with the National Arts Centre Orchestra. Come July, before she jets off to sing several roles with Oper Leipzig, Wallis will take part at the Music & Beyond festival. As a fashion ambassador for McCaffrey Haute Couture, she has wowed the crowd with her selection of stage costumes.

MC: How does it feel to perform a concert that will mark the end of era with the departure of Pinchas Zukerman?

WG: It is a major honour, of course, and quite an interesting coincidence as well. Maestro Zukerman’s first season as Artistic Director of the NACO (1999/2000), was also the season I first performed at the National Arts Centre, as a 13 year-old member of the Ottawa Central Children’s Choir. That was an important year for both of us (in very different ways, of course), and it is quite special that I am able to be a part of his final season.

MC: Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is not only one of the most famous classical compositions of all time but also powerful and contagiously courageous. How does this piece affect you in performance?

WG: It fills me with joy, and also with reverence. Can you imagine that this composer was almost completely deaf when he wrote it? For something so joyful and profound to be created by this masterful composer who would never even be able to hear it – that is some pretty powerful stuff.

MC: How do you prepare yourself for repertoire like this?

WG: Luckily, I learned this piece a few years ago in school, so it’s easily in my voice already. We will have a few rehearsals with Maestro Zukerman in the week leading up to the performances, but it should come together quite easily. Our Maestro and his orchestra have played it many times before.

MC: You’ll be wearing McCaffrey Haute Couture which is actually based in Ottawa. Can you share more about the dress(es)?

WG: Yes! David and I have been collaborating for over 5 years now, and we have a wonderful collection of gowns that he has created exclusively for my performances. I haven’t yet chosen which two I will wear on June 19th and 20th, but I can guarantee that they’ll be showstoppers. It happens every time I walk out on stage in a concert – I hear people gasp and whisper “oh, wow, look at that dress”. David is a master in his own right, and I am so privileged to have his support and creative collaboration. Wallis Giunta_MIV Photography

MC: What are the advantages of performing at festivals, compared to stand alone recitals, concerts, operas, etc.

WG: Performing within a festival environment is exciting because of the concentration of creativity all in one place – festivals inspire audiences to explore repertoire and styles that are new to them, and take in more performances than they otherwise would. As a performer, that means we can often connect with people who normally wouldn’t choose to attend our shows, and maybe we can open some new minds to classical music. It’s also a lovely experience as a colleague, to have so many peers all together, usually in the summer, in a more relaxed environment. I am really looking forward to Music & Beyond, and to taking in some of the other concerts on my days off.

Opera Atelier Alcina

Opera Atelier Alcina

MC: You will be performing quite a variety of repertoire. How do you transition from one musical number to another?

WG: I love creating programs with variety! It’s a lot of fun for me as a performer. I also happen to have this unusually wide range of stylistic ability – people tell me I’m much more versatile than the average classical singer. So, I try to capitalize on that. Shifting from one style to another is not a vocal challenge for me, but it does require some preparation from an artistic point of view. Thought goes into the order of the pieces on the program, so the transitions make sense. In the moment, I just wipe the slate clean for each new song, and treat it as its own 3-4 minute opera.

Photo Credits: Gerard Collett, Michael Edwards and MIV Photography

Visit to learn about her upcoming performances!