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 May 2009 - Nr. 5

Creating an Opera York fundraiser is not just fun but a lot of work. The latest one for the upcoming 12th season took place this past April 25 at the Famee Furlane. The committee themed the gala on the "Jester and Clowns of the Opera" because next year Opera York’s season includes Verdi’s "Rigoletto," an opera about a jester at court. This was a great opportunity to have a masked ball. It was a beautiful evening with each lady receiving a handmade glittering mask and men, a black "jester’s wand" of ribbons and bells. Joanna Papini, in charge of décor, outdid herself. The evening glittered with black tables towered over by an elegant, white orchid centre piece, provided by Carisma Florist. An impressive130 masks were made by the committee and the invitation, programs and stage all featured a jester’s mask. Ralph Andrews, of Andrews Design, who just returned from working for Versace during Fashion week in New York, worked together with Joanna Papini to design the stage setting with, of course, huge jester masks in twinkling lights behind an amazing grand piano donated by Yamaha Music Gallery.

Opera York Gala Committee
Opera York Gala Committee

Andrea Trentadue, CHIN TVThe night’s master of ceremonies was Andrea Trentadue from CHIN television. She did a grand job, entertaining and managing the crowd through introductions of Opera York’s sponsors, the auctions and also thanking the committee, who planned the evening.

The dinner, which included prosciutto and stuffed pear, penne with tomato and risotto with asparagus and beef tenderloin with tiger shrimp, rapini and roasted vegetables, was beautifully served by the Famee with accompanying wine donated by Cilento Wines. There was a large silent auction and live auction that included a 80 pound wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, a week at the Forest Glen Family Villa Resort in Gravenhurst, diamond necklace and bracelet by Finch Centre Jewelers and a Silver Fox full length coat modeled by Opera York’s Artistic Director, Geoffrey Butler’s wife Erica. A romantic at heart, Geoffrey, won the bidding on the fur, for his wife for their 10th wedding anniversary.

The gala wouldn’t be complete without dancing and a wonderful opera concert by some of Opera York’s fine talent. Sopranos, Neema Bickersteth & Melissa BencicNarrated and accompanied by artistic directors Geoffrey Butler, and Sabatino Vacca, the show centered on comedy in opera. Opera York’s talent included soprano Melissa Bencic, soprano Neema Bickersteth, mezzo soprano Adriana Albu, and tenor Keith Klassen, tenorKeith Klassen. The audience favorite though, was a wonderfully full voiced baritone, James Westman, who sang Figaro’s aria, "Largo al Factotum" while pretending to wash Vaughan Councilor Tony Carella hair.

Opera York is the resident opera company of the wonderful new Richmond Hill Centre for the Arts and next season will be offering the first opera in Hebrew to be performed in North America titled "And the Rat Laughed" as well as Verdi’s "Rigoletto" that lent its story adaption to this successful fundraiser.

Email to Sybille Forster-Rentmeister
Sybille reports as a German-Canadian about culture, arts, entertainment, community events from her unique perspective as an artist.

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