Preview: OperaNation at Canadian Opera Company Set to Make A Joyful Noise with Yelle


The COC presents their fundraising OperaNation gala on October 16 at Toronto’s Four Seasons Centre

Kicking forward into the chill of the 21st Century is no easy feat for an opera company, even so fine and distinguished a one as the Canadian Opera Company. The twin plagues of the arts — engaging younger viewers into a lifetime of support and getting attendees to open their wallets in support — are often handled as separate problems. COC will feed two birds with one bag of seed again this year with its ever-fabulous OperaNation gala under the happy eye of COC Director Alexander Neef.

Combining fashion, art installation, and a pop music guest performing alongside the COC’s own luminaries, this year’s theme of Light Up The Night looks like all of Nuit Blanche (the magic parts, not the drunk parts) cleverly folded up and inserted into the Four Seasons Centre. Built on a Spanish theme and recalling the grand rococo of The Barber of Seville, the OperaNation revels are typically the sort of party that makes even urban revelers feel as though they’re at the best event of the evening. The best part is that when the party’s done and the even thousand revelers have filtered out of the Four Seasons Centre, the money raised will provide substantial support to the Ensemble Studio programme, which nourishes and displays young talent in opera.

Contributing to the marvel is the evening’s special guest, Yelle, a French band known for clever lyrics and dreamy, electropop soundscapes. It’s not difficult to imagine how their work will make a delicious musical confection with the COC orchestra and Ensemble Studio vocalists. Experiential and performative artwork by Derek Liddington, Orest Tataryn, and local delight Keith Cole round out the multimedia pleasures. Their contributions include a ballet flash mob, an opera for electric guitar, and neon installations to confound the senses — all presented as guests enjoy a signature cocktail and explore the Four Seasons Centre. (And if you guessed that only Keith Cole could produce a participatory roving ballet flash mob, you would be correct.)

The entire experience — food and fashion, artwork and opera, even artist-designed bracelets to serve as raffle tickets for the evening’s fundraising raffle — is meant to serve a full meal of artworks that are accessible and festive. Where sometimes the opera is hard work (worthwhile, to be sure, but challenging),  OperaNation is pure fun, with a neon garnish and a bourbon chaser. If you can afford the $150 (fundraising! Young artists!) price tag, there’s no reason in the world not to pull something fabulous out of your closet and go join the fun.