I spent the entire day downtown at various galleries and performance venues to do research and analysis for a course report. I won’t bore you with the details of my findings, but I will share some photos and my experience as an observer!
Chose two of the most ‘basic’ galleries available in Toronto: 401 Richmond and Art Gallery of Ontario. In a general sense, the 401 is more of a local community gallery with interactive space while the AGO appeared to target more elite or educated intellectuals with emphasis on history and internationally established artists.
To be completely honest, I probably enjoyed my time less at the AGO. Although the work tended to be more ‘astounding’ in the fact that they displayed huge oil paintings and artifacts from the pre-1800s, I was constantly aware of the gallery attendants staring me down. I know it’s their job to monitor the space… but then please do that instead of gaping at me as if I were the art on display. There was also (for me, at least) the pressure to be well-dressed and to conduct yourself if such a way that made you look like you came from a privileged family.
After the art galleries, I made my way to the Four Seasons Performance Center to see my first opera! I originally intended on seeing the ballet, since I used to be a student at the Canada National Ballet School, and as an intense ballet trainee (unprofessionally, just as a hobby), I thought I would probably have understood a dance interpretation better than Italian lyrics.
Unfortunately, the ballet season doesn’t start until November, and my report is due in two weeks. The opera was spectacular nonetheless! There were subtitles, which allowed me to understand what the singers were saying, and despite confusing reviews for Il Travorte, I found the plot just awesome. The ending was genius. I don’t want to give anything away, so you really must just experience it for yourself! Rush tickets and (if you’re under 30) youth tickets are available for around $22-$30. The seats aren’t that great, and you can’t see the facial expressions of the singers but hey, you pay for what you get.
The entire atmosphere was different from what I’m used to though. It’s obvious that certain luxuries still target the elite, even if there are tickets available for those such as myself with modest student incomes. Despite the Canadian Opera Company “encouraging audiences of all ages”, I would say 99.7% of the population there was forty years plus of age and with – might I add, substantially sized wallets.
Listening to those around me dressed in Gucci ponchos and decorated with Prada handbags, I eavesdropped on recent trips to Paris and Budapest, family castles in Transylvania, and plans for Italian meals after a day at the spa. Thankfully I had my old cocktail dress and pair of stilettos – I was afraid I was overdressed, but now I’m glad I kept at least one piece of formal attire.
Overall a satisfying experience! I definitely want to come back to catch a few ballet performances. I’ve really only seen one real ballet dance: The Nutcracker way back when I was still in the one-digit age zone. And before that there was only the dance that I was in myself… the Chimney Sweep! This year I have to see the Nutcracker again.