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.
-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... :)