It is not very often that I get to have an excuse to wear a beautiful mask, arrange for my hair stylist to put in an updo, slide on a beautiful dress and take a sincere amount of time getting my make-up just right.
Kelowna is a very casual town – where dressing up in tuxedos and wearing long ball gowns is not your average weekend. I was fortunate enough to have been invited to Opera Kelowna’s Bohemian Masquerade last Friday and it was my first taste of the fine arts scene in our beautiful community.
Inspired by the Parisian streets of the 19th century, Opera Kelowna put on a fundraiser like no other I had been to before. When I walked through the doors of the Bohemian Masquerade I was instantly greeted with a wave of delicious smelling food and local talent. I felt like I had stepped back in time and into a hollywood scene of Marie Antoinette. Everyone was wearing masks, women were dressed in ball gowns, men were looking as handsome as ever in their tuxedos, actors were walking on stilts, and DELICIOUS french food found in every corner of the room. Even ……wait for it…… a Poutine Buffet! How could one ever forget to honour the french Quebecois? Three different kinds of fries (Curly Fries are my weakness), two types of gravy and all the toppings you could have ever asked for. No one went home starving after the party!
Throughout the entire evening while conversations, food, and drinks were being shared there was a continuous stream of performances. The night started with a beautiful local accordion musician, followed by a great fashion show filled with local models. Then everyone got to enjoy a very edgy yet graceful performance by the youth at The Canadian School of Ballet and to top it all off we got to hear the voices of the beautiful Opera goddesses that train with Opera Kelowna.
It was great to be surrounded by such a different crowd than what I was used to. Being a young adult living in Kelowna I see my fair share of networking events, artisan markets, beer festivals and outdoor concerts BUT I was never aware of the up and coming Fine Arts scene. Alexandra Babbel, the artistic director of Opera Kelowna, is disrupting the Fine Arts space. A former Opera singer from Chicago, she came to Kelowna inspired and driven to foster the wonderful and musically talented individuals right in our very own city. Even though the community is small now I have no doubts in my mind that this woman is going to make a change for the better. The beautiful singers that performed at this fundraiser spoke volumes for the talent that is coming from Opera Kelowna’s training programs.
After cashing in my drink tickets, stuffing myself gracefully with all the crepes, fries, and desserts it was time to dance! Professional dancers came to the dance floor and offered to teach people different dancing styles. I am not going to lie – I stayed on the sidelines and observed BUT I was extremely impressed with the dancing shoes people brought to the party. Even Alexandra herself got out onto the dance floor in her stunning gown and showed people a thing or two. The energy was high, the donations were flowing, and the support was heart warming. It was so great to be surrounded by such a unique and talented group of individuals and to see that there is a huge support from our city. Colin Basran and Stephen Fuhr were there in attendance and were looking sharp!
The main stage performance of Puccini’s La Boheme will be taking place on August 18 & 19 this summer and I am beyond excited to attend! The Opera Kelowna is a registered non-profit regional opera company and training center for young promising classical local artists. The donations and support from our community help foster the talented individuals in our area so that opera becomes accessible to all! We don’t want to have to force such talented youth to move to Vancouver to get the training they deserve do we?!
There will be free concerts this summer during the beginning of August where they will be hosting Opera Under The Stars at UBC Okanagan followed by another performance called Opera in the Park. Keep your eyes peeled on Facebook because these are events that you will not want to miss!