When Harry Met Measha

Last night was gala night as the NAC and Opera Lyra Ottawa held the 10th Black and White Opera Soiree. This is the second big fundraising event of the season, and as with the Fall gala, it attracts a well-heeled audience of ambassadors, judges, MP’s, and captains of industry. I dug my old gig suit out of the back of the closet in an attempt to blend in. I hope nobody noticed the faint smell of Aqua Velve left over from a long-forgotten Wind Ensemble concert in Iroquois.The big stars of the evening were soprano Measha Brueggergosman and host Harry Belafonte. Harry is going to be 80 in a week, yet he seemed nimble and in good health (incidentally, click here to view one of my favourite Daily Show segments featuring Mr. Belafonte and his political views).Measha has really changed since I last saw her perform with the orchestra. She’s lost about 175 pounds, all through sheer willpower. She looks great (not that she didn’t before), and I certainly didn’t notice any change in her voice.The highlight of the evening for me was watching Measha backstage before she went on to sing a big aria from Barber’s Cleopatra. She had some really dramatic makeup happening, and her hair was as big as I’ve ever seen it. Maybe it’s part of her pre-game ritual, maybe it’s nerves, but she kept tugging at her hair, making it ever bigger. Someone should really sign her up for a MAC cosmetics campaign – she just oozes confidence and charisma.I have to hand it to our Development department – they have done a great job with these gala concerts. Last night’s performance netted $440,000, an increase of over $100,000 from the previous year. So, in two galas this season, they’ve raised almost $3 million. Not bad for two nights work…

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