There are plenty of people I know who have not attended an opera. Even more have not been to New York Fashion Week (NYFW). On Saturday, September 9, I had the opportunity to see both at the same time. Opera Carolina, founded in 1948 by the Charlotte Music Club, is known across the nation and does a phenomenal job of maintaining the integrity of the art form.
Opera Carolina’s presentation of “Opera Recycles” at the Crowne Plaza Time Square Manhattan hotel was not only artistic in nature, but designers Kristen Alyce, Emily Kramer, Sarah Danee McGee, Malou Cordery, Venie Tadeo, Lyndsee Hairston and Rocio Llusca brought a level of environmental awareness to the runway by creating couture fashion using its recycled printed materials. The fashion was not the only innovative component of this one-of-a-kind performance; Producer Jerome Jewetto created the runway music for Opera Recycles’ fashion show that incorporated hip hop and opera, including songs from “O Fortuna”, “Carmen”, and “The Marriage of Figaro.” Such fusion of opera, hip-hop, fashion, and recycled playbills embraces a cultural integration that, in recent history, would have been frowned upon by opera and fashion purists alike, but is now thought-provoking and impactful.
The ability of trained opera singers to not only sing but to properly represent the artistic views of the designers was awe-inspiring. As one who has been intrigued by fashion since my early days of undergraduate studies, but who also is constantly gaining an understanding of the need for sustainability, this performance illuminated both the right and left sides of my brain. I was able to appreciate the beauty in the designs as well as the musical selections while realizing the need for more sustainable sources of fashion. Will I be wearing all of my used bill envelopes to work tomorrow morning? Probably not. But why not, going forward, start patching up a hole in a pair of pants as opposed to going out to buy a whole new pair? I already thrift but could I do it more? Certainly. Sustainability in fashion set to a soundtrack of classic melodies and unconventional rhythms made an indelible impact on me.
When fashion, sustainability, and music intersect, they etch a memory into one’s mind and that memory creates dreams of what is possible if we think outside the box. It is not every day that you hear something that changes the world but, on September 9, 2017, I did. Opera Carolina’s “Opera Recycles” presentation was not only one of artistic excellence; it was a call to environmental action. That is certainly a melody that I will dance to.