Tuesday, February 14, 2012

When Opportunity Calls

With a handful of kleenex in one hand and a handful of cough drops in the other, I went to the opera last night. What a wonderful evening it was. Hopefully I didn't infect anyone around me. The production was Showboat. It was incredible. Morris Robinson debuted at Lyric in the role as Joe who sings the signature song, Old Man River. I was blown away by the depth of his range. Never before have I heard anyone reach the base notes that he was able reach. 
Nathan Gunn sang the role of Gaylord Ravenal. Two years ago I had the opportunity to hear Nathan Gunn in concert with Elizabeth Futral. It was such a lovely evening. Nathan Gunn's wife accompanied him on his solo pieces and what struck me was the electricity between the two. As she played the piano and he sang, he would glance to her and you could see the delight in her eyes. By the way, they have a boatload of children!! During last night's performance, there was a depth that he brought to the character that I felt came from the love he has for his own family. So, as I said, I hope that I'm not sending people to their sick bed today, but I just had to go.
I fell in love with the opera quite a few years ago. I'll never forget the first introduction to La Traviata. As the curtain went up and the orchestra began to play, I sat mesmerized. Everything was so beautiful, the music, the costumes, the voices. I've been hooked ever since.
Many years ago when I was designing and making wedding gowns, I received a call from a woman who wanted to know how much I would charge to make a simple dress. At first I thought she was a nut, but as it turned out, it was Sister Candida Lund, Chancellor of Dominican University and past president. It was the beginning of a very dear friendship. I sewed for her for quite a few years. Not long before she died, I told her that I was no longer taking orders, but that I would sew for her as long as she wished. That Christmas I made her a beautiful red silk Asian inspired jacket and a pair of black velvet pants. She attended a party and wore her new outfit. A woman came up to her and complimented her. Sister Candida told her about me and that I had made the outfit. The woman told her about some fabric that her brother had sent from Thailand. Although Sister Candida knew that I was no longer taking commissions, she gave her my number. When this woman called, I was all set to tell her that I was no longer doing this and she said, "Sister Candida gave me your number." Needless to say, when Sister Candida spoke, I listened. As it turned out, this woman was the president of the American Opera Society of Chicago. During the course of our time together, we talked about our shared love of opera. That spring she invited me to a luncheon and invited me to join.   

This is Jane who invited me to join the American Opera Society and myself at a Spring Gala. Jane is not wearing the dress that I made for her. This was not the first time that I wore this dress. I had worn it to a lovely summer party. The night was magical. For days I left the dress stretched out over a bed so I could get a glimpse of it as I walked by. I call the dress my Cinderella dress.

I did not design my gown. This is the pattern I used. There is no petticoat so my dress does not stand out as full as the dress pictured.

My dress began with this piece of cotton voile that I found on Ebay. Nice, but not special.

At Joann's I found this piece of fabric. Perfect, but the two fabrics together were still very sheer so I needed a third layer.

I found this piece of glitter fabric. Perfect. It gave the dress the depth that I was looking for.

At the time of this gala, I had no idea that just a few short years later, I would be elected as the president. Last September I held my first board meeting and quaked in my pumps. After all, I was following in the footsteps of some very influential women. The board meetings have become easier, my fellow board members have been so kind and helpful. And to think, it all began with a nun looking for someone to make a dress for her. I believe that Sister Candida is still with me, guarding over me and pushing me in the right direction and I think smiling a little at her handiwork. 
As we all know, today is St. Valentine's Day. Such a wonderful day, a day to not only be loved, but to think of those we have loved and those that have loved us. I've attached a trailer of La Boheme, my second favorite opera, La Traviata being my favorite. It is such a lovely story of love and loss. I think the music is so fitting for such a special day.

You may remember that the movie, Moonstruck, a favorite of mine, showcased the music and the opera of La Boheme. I've also attached a small trailer from the movie. My husband and I will curl up tonight and watch this movie...once again!
I've told a very long story today (sorry about that), but I hope that what will come across is the fact that when we are open, miracles can happen when we least expect them. A simple phone call can bring unexpected opportunities.

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