November 10, 2009

What I wore to my first night at the opera

Towards the end of October my husband chanced up a wonderful programme (called Opera for a New Age) that’s in place from the Canadian Opera Company and The Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto, which allows patrons under the age of thirty to purchase opera tickets at a deeply discounted rate. The idea behind this marvelous programme being that it helps to open up (more costly) events like attending an opera to Toronto’s youth. (They only release a select number of seats per show though, so you have to snap up these bargain rate tickets quickly.)

Having long dreamed of attending an opera, we both jumped at this fantastic opportunity and purchased a pair of tickets to a newly opened performance called “The Nightingale and Other Short Fables” by Igor Stravinsky. The show, which was delightfully experimental, proved to be a very unique foray into the world of opera.

Set against a backdrop of orchestral music and Russian songs, this two act, three part performance veered away from what many would think of as “traditional opera”. The two scenes composing the first act employed highly skilled shadow work (one used hand puppets, the other human silhouettes behind a curtain) and acted out various (short) Russian folk stories. The second act saw a portion of the orchestra pit flooded with water so that puppeteers along with intricately designed puppets could to turn the viscous black surface of the water into an almost transcendent stage upon which to tell the a fairytale-like story about a Chinese Emperor and a nightingale.

I am however, jumping ahead of myself here though! As soon as I knew I would be attending an opera, my first question was: what’s the dress code? After a bit of online sleuthing (the Centre’s site didn’t seem to talk about this point),for better or worse (depending on your personal feelings surrounding formal evening gowns and tuxedos – I love them dearly myself), we determined that the dress code seemed to be what I’d describe as "casual formal". While that might sound like an oxymoron, it in fact encompasses a certain style of dress that allows for everything from suits (for the gents) to cocktail dresses, business suits, skirts of varying lengths and other evening appropriate wear for ladies.

Having never dressed for the opera before, I debated my choice of outfit carefully before the big night arrived. I sidestepped an overtly vintage look, though not intentionally per se. I don’t own many “opera worthy” pieces and so turned to a classic black jersey frock that I felt would ensure I looked neither under or over dressed. In the mood for a smoky eye, I draped my lids in shades of grey and black, which I paired with a red lip (I wear red lips a good 75% of the time, it’s by far the lipstick shade I feel most comfortable in). I wore my hair (which is now at least three inches shorter than it appears in the photos below since I got it cut last week) down, pulling the centre front part back, but leaving the sides free to flow over my shoulders naturally.

My choice of garb for the evening proved to be spot on. Though the majority of the crowd at this particular event was older than my husband and I, I felt instantly at ease with what I was wearing and blended well into the crowd of elegantly dressed, often distinguished looking women and men who shared in the performance with us that night.

Before we headed out to catch the subway downtown, I asked my husband to take a few photographs of my outfit, knowing that many years down the road – and hopefully having scores of operas under my belt by that point – I would want to recall with absolute clarity what I wore to my first opera. Spurred on by the incredibly kind and encouraging feedback I received regarding my Halloween outfit photos, I wanted to share these snaps with you all.







Outfit details:

-Silver tone and pale sky blue plastic crystal earrings: bought from a mall in Dublin when I lived in Ireland, honestly not sure what store they came from (other little stud earrings worn in holes above bottom hoop earrings, also from Claire's)
-Light blue lace camisole: FashionMax
-Black jersey dress: FashionMax
-Black double brass buckle belt: Forever 21
-Black nylons with tiny white polka dots: From eBay a couple of years ago, no label
-Black round toed, faux suede pumps: Wal-Mart
-Lip colour: CoverGirl Outlast Lipstain in #440, over Annabelle lip liner in #205 “cherry”


Attending my inaugural opera was a truly wonderful experience – however the week got even more amazing, for on the Friday (of that same week), we attended a second performance (as my husband just happened to log onto the Canadian Opera Company’s site shortly after they released a new batch of seats to a different opera later in the week). What show was on the bill you may ask? Why none other than the romantic, though (in true opera form) tragic, tale of Madame Butterfly. But the story of that night, my dears, and the photos of what I wore (hint, think more of a 50s style look) to my second opera, are for another post... :)

40 comments:

  1. Love your outfit and makeup, especially your lip color!!

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  2. You look gorgeous Jessica, love the black with your hair color, plus it makes your eyes pop that much more.

    xo Darla

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  3. Yay you did another picture post! :)
    It's always the worst trying to decide what's appropriate to wear to a kind of event you've never been to isn't it? (I don't know what's worse, being overdressed or undressed, I usually end up on or the other ;) hehe)
    Your outfit sounds like it was the perfect choice though. You look so pretty. Your makeup is so beautifully done and I love your dress. Those nylons with the dots are too cute!
    Happy Tuesday!

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  4. Very pretty! One thing I love about Opera is that you can wear almost anything - especially those of us who like to dress up to the nines!

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  5. Your look seems perfect for a dramatic and yet not "formal formal" night at the opera. Stunning! Can't wait to see what you wore to Madame Butterfly (one of my faves).

    xoxo
    PS: Thanks for your wonderful comments on my blog (as always, really appreciated!!!)

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  6. love the outfit! and the red lipstick looks great!

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  7. What a lovely evening for you! And you look wonderfully opera ready! Love that belt. Can't wait to see look #2!
    Marie @ Lemondrop ViNtAge

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  8. What an amazing experience going to the Opera! You look gorgeous!!! You have the prettiest complexion ever :-) and I want to steal your hair color.

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  9. Oh beautiful. Love the color of the lipstick you are wearing. The blue cami peeking up is such a gorgeous shade and sets of the outfit and love the belt too.
    xxx

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  10. Lucky gal! I've never been to an opera, but it is something on my ever growing things to do before I die list :) Yay, I see you're slowly coming out of your shell, and sharing more pictures of you with us:) You look lovely, and I'm sure we are all looking forward to seeing the pictures of the outfit you wore to your second opera :)
    Hugs!
    Miss Go Lightly

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  11. What a great opportunity!!! - you look great too :-)

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  12. While attending an opera would probably be one of the last things on my list of things to do, I loved hearing about your experience and choice of clothing!

    I always find it nice to see photos of those whose blogs I read...your outfit (and self) look quite lovely. :)

    ~Emily

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  13. I love it! What a sweetheart... I wish I could pull off the red. Mom is always yelling at me to be more vivacious with the lipstick. I tried a more rougy pink this weekend and I'm just not used to it. My complexion is so difficult. I try though! :)

    Lots of love,
    Nicolette

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  14. Ohhhhh, dear Jessica!!! You are so beautiful, you look glamourous, sophisticated, elegant and soooo like you belong attending operas all the time! Thank you so much for sharing these photos! I know you described your outfit to me but seeing it is so grand! You are a vision, my dear friend! ♥♥

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  15. You look beautiful!!
    Lucky hubby must have been very proud to have you on his arm!!

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  16. How pretty! I just love your sparkly outfit! Even your tights look sparkly! And the blue and black set off your red hair marvelously.

    Can't wait to see your next outfit posts.

    iamemmamusic.blogspot.com

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  17. You look fab. That dress is gorgeous!
    -Andi x

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  18. Wow you look stunning, Love!! Your outfit is so elegant and romantic...and yet stylish and unique. I adore those earrings too!

    xoxo

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  19. You look beautiful in whatever outfit you wear, my dear!^^

    ~hugs~

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  20. You looked beautiful! Thanks for sharing the pics with us, too bad you don't scrap - these would be awesome to have glued down somewhere! lol

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  21. How very lucky you were!
    A night at the opera is one of my greatest dreams! I would love to have one: the marvelous stories, the amazing costumes, the enchanting music... And not to mention the (often) beautiful architecture of most of the theatres - and all the elegant, well-dressed and stylish people walking around! I would definitely die to go to see an opera!

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  22. Thanks for sharing your first opera experience, Jessica--you looked beautiful! Perfect choice for your outfit! I'm glad you're feeling good about sharing your photos--you should! Hope you're having a marvellous day!

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  23. Jessica, you look so beautiful and elegant! Do tell more about the second opera (I'm so jealous, I wish that there was a deal like that in Vancouver).

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  24. I love your earrings! Your makeup looks wonderful, dear.

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  25. Oh I love Madame Butterfly! Dan took me to see it when we were dating...for Valentines Day, I think. You look lovely. I really like the accents you added to such a pretty dress. Beautiful...or should I say bellissima?

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  26. Wow! You look so amazing. You really do. You're so beautiful and stylish. I think you look fantastic. I hope you had a great time. Cheers!

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  27. Gorgeous, Gorgeous, Gorgeous... did I mention Gorgeous? Gorgeous!

    xoxo
    Amy

    thebargainhunterextraordinaire.blogspot.com

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  28. From the bottom of my heart, thank you each so incredibly much for your unparalleled kindness and ongoing encouragement. I can scarcely begin to explain how much for your beautiful words mean to me.

    Endless thanks & huge hugs, everybody!
    ♥ Jessica

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  29. Love your outfit! Very pretty :)

    Going to the opera sounds lovely!

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  30. Jess,
    You look absolutely smashing, darling! This is the first time I'm seeing you, and I must say, you are divine! Your evening sounds like such a grand ole time! Love your visits to GirlWhimsy.
    http://girlwhimsy.blogspot.com

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  31. Thank you for your returned comment.x

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  32. You look fabulous in those photos! I know you enjoyed the opera. I LOVE the opera and listen to as much as I (and the neighbor's dog) can stand :) So glad you got to go and enjoy yourself (and look gorgeous at the same time!)

    Jen

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  33. Sweetest ladies, thank you dearly for your beautiful comments, each one means so very much to me.

    May you each have an fantastically lovely weekend!
    ♥ Jessica

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  34. Gorgeous! You look so beautiful and in the first picture you remind me a lot about Nicole Kidman (it's a compliment of course, I mean before she became a plastic doll with all the surgeries...!).

    Know what? I've never been at the opera!

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  35. Thank you dearly, AlicePleasance, I've almost never been compared to a famous figure before, and am immensely touched by your likening me to such a gorgeous actress. (You just made my day!)

    Don't feel bad, it took me 25 years to see my first opera, I'm sure you'll have the opportunity to attend one someday, too, sweetie.

    Big hugs & joyful weekend wishes,
    ♥ Jessica

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  36. You have the most fantastic eyebrows! Do you do them yourself?

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