Inside the Opera Atelier Versailles Gala: 13 pictures of Toronto’s stylish supporters of the arts

Opera Atelier gala 2013
Opera Atelier gala 2013
Photography by Tom Sandler

See all the photos from the Opera Atelier Versailles Gala »

In a city that’s packed with artistic endeavours, it can be hard to stand out and get noticed. But based on the fashionable crowd that gathered for last week’s Opera Atelier Versailles Gala, the independent opera and ballet company has made quite an impression on Toronto’s arts community. Jeanne Beker played emcee for the evening and—after impressively prancing across the stage in sky-high heels—reminded guests to “bid fiercely!” on both the silent and live auctions that happened throughout the night.

After all, the fundraising gala’s main objective was to support Opera Atelier’s international touring, which includes a very prestigious performance in 2014 at the Palace of Versailles. As in, at the opera theatre that was built to celebrate the wedding of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette—no big deal. The company’s founding co-artistic directors, Marshall Pynkoski and Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg, took to the stage throughout the night, both to introduce performances from the school’s students as well as performing with them. Impressive costumery was a big part of the gala—as Opera Atelier’s mandate is to perform rare operas from the Baroque era, authentic attire is a must. Costumes from past productions with gold brocade, intricate embroidery and elaborate hoop skirts were all on display throughout the Ritz-Carlton ballroom.

However, the highlight of the evening was certainly the performances by Opera Atelier’s top talents, dramatic coloratura soprano Ambur Braid and baritone Vasil Garvanliev. Taking full advantage of the dinner theatre-style set up, the singers weaved throughout the room, interacting with guests as they sang. We would not have been surprised if the glass candelabras on each table had shattered—their performances were just that pitch-perfect.