By Carla Warrilow Posted November 9, 2011, 6:02 PM EST
The new venue affected the format of the event considerably. Rather than have all 1,500 guests for dinner, Villa Charities only had the 620 V.I.P.s stay to dine due to capacity restrictions. The performance became the first thing on the gala schedule this year, rather than the last, so all guests could attend. Under the new format the performance was followed by a cocktail reception. Following that, the V.I.P. dinner began at 9:30 p.m. on the stage of R. Fraser Elliot Hall.
The opera performance marked a new direction for the Venetian Ball as well. In the past, the ball featured more mainstream performers like Stevie Wonder and Frankie Valli. “To have operatic entertainment was more of a risk,” Bratty said, but it was the perfect way to celebrate Italy and Italian culture. Performers included Dragonette’s Martina Sorbara, Measha Brueggergosman, the Canadian Tenors, Rufus Wainwright, and members of the Canadian Opera Company. The event raised $1.25 million for the Villa Charities Foundation, which provides care to elderly Italian-Canadians.