A sketch by Ryerson fashion graduate Sarah Elizabeth Graham. Courtesy Operanation

Ryerson designers take on Operanation

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By Nicole Schmidt

For the ninth year in a row, art lovers gathered in the Four Seasons Centre to celebrate artistic talent at the Operanation fundraiser. This year, three Ryerson students were selected to design and display an original garment for the event.

Operanation is a fundraising event in support of the Ensemble Studio, a Canadian Opera Company (COC) training program for young, aspiring opera performers. Every year, they host a black-tie event that features live performances and a night full of art.

Operanation Nine was held on Thursday. The theme of the evening, sweet revenge, was inspired by the opera Die Fledermaus.

David Chou and Sarah Elizabeth Graham, both Ryerson fashion graduates, and Jill Dickieson, a current fashion student, were given sketches of the costumes from the original opera and asked to create a modern piece with a similar theme that would go on display as decoration.

“The [designs] that were chosen really tied back to the sketches themselves,” says Amy Burstyn-Fritz, co-chair of the event. “They had attention to detail and expressed the thought behind the story. Of course, it also came down to presentation and style.”

Chou says he was inspired by Rosalinde, a secondary character in Die Fledermaus. The wife to the protagonist, Rosalinde drives the drama of the plot by cheating on her husband.

“Through my design was that restriction because she wanted to seek revenge,” Chou says. “I wanted to grasp that struggle.”

Graham also drew inspiration from the same character. She says she spent over 20 hours just sketching.

“It was a really dramatic, dark look,” she says.

But Dickieson chose to focus on the ballroom setting of the story when creating her piece.

“When you think about a ball, you think about ball gowns and the volume,” Dickieson says.

“There’s a lot of embellishment and I ended up doing some hand-beading on lace as well as some gold leaf on lace.”

But the night was not only filled with fashion, but also classical and contemporary music, visual, and culinary arts. Guests saw performances from Nelly Furtado and the Arkells, as well as some local opera singers.

Nick Dika, the bass player for the Arkells, celebrates the cause. “Being involved in music, anything that supports the arts is near and dear to our hearts,” he says.

Every year, Operanation raises over $100,000 for the COC training program. As the event continues to grow in popularity, the involvement of other art forms progresses and fundraising goals continue to rise.

Dave Harris, a guest at Operanation who is involved in the music industry, says he was really impressed by the vocal performances.

“I thought that it was pretty stunning when they mixed the two genres together,” says Harris. “It’s a unique way of exposing opera to young folk in an interesting way.”

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