Parlando: The COC Blog


Photographing Cinderella

[This is a guest post by Gianna Wichelow, senior communications manager, creative]

There has been a stunning group of entries for our Cinderella Outfit Challenge, which is now in its final stages of judging. While we await the outcome, here’s the story behind the COC’s Cinderella doll!

When we were preparing the Canadian Opera Company’s 2010/2011 season brochure, we took as our theme the idea of “found objects.” Each opera was represented by something that you might find in an old box in your attic, or on a shelf, something with a personal touch that would resonate with a theme from the opera.

The creative team consisted of Mark Olson, photographer; Rita Poole, producer; Jeffrey Halcro, creative director at Endeavour Marketing (the COC’s agency of record); and Genevieve Wiseman, props stylist. The COC team consisted of Jeremy Elbourne, director of marketing, and me, senior communications manager, creative.

The Idea

For Rossini’s Cinderella, we fastened quickly onto the idea of finding love as a timeless, universal hope. The idea of a well-loved doll in a home-made wedding dress spoke to us in a moving and playful way. 

Jeffrey Halcro had this to say:

“Conceptually, we were trying to capture an object that a) represented the ideal of beauty/love and b) felt like it had a human story. We wanted the doll to look like a cherished possession that had been played with for many years (not kept in an air-tight collector’s box). The dress was meant to be like a bridal dress but homemade, possibly by a grandmother. There’s a long relationship between the doll and the owner. We didn’t want her to be too dirty or roughed up like she had been tossed in the garbage, but well played with for many years.”


Even though it’s been over a year, Rita Poole remembers the process well and recounted it to me recently. First, second-hand and new dolls were sourced online and in stores to find one that had the right look. All the dolls, outfits, and other icons of the season’s operas were photographed and posted on to a web gallery for the agency (Endeavour) and client (us!) to review and approve. Rita recalls: “It was funny how earnest everyone was in the studio, discussing how Cinderella’s hair should be styled or if her eye shadow was too modern, etc.”

We finally narrowed it down to 25+ dolls and then the final one was picked. She came from Value Village and charmed us all with her sweet expression.


The crocheted wedding dress was found on Etsy. Genevieve sourced the same pattern on eBay from a vendor in Victoria, B.C. By this point, there was a bit of a time crunch, so she put in her bid and requested that the pattern be scanned and either e-mailed or faxed, as opposed to waiting for it to arrive via courier or post. There was a little lag time (in communications) with the three-hour time difference, but the time in between was used to finalize the choice of someone to crochet the dress.

Megan of Lettuce Knit (Kensington Market) agreed to crochet the dress. Once the pattern arrived, it was delivered to Megan, along with a "Fit Model" (i.e., a spare doll to be used to ensure size and fit). The pattern was rather extensive and quite complicated—it took several days to crochet. The final fit was perfect. And to finish it off, Cinderella’s shoes and bouquet were purchased new. There had to be something new in there!


Cinderella’s hair is synthetic, so it was dampened, and rolled in tiny bamboo skewers to be shaped nicely. A little hairspray was used to hold the waves in place.


Cinderella was a great model: very low-maintenance and a joy to work with. She’s currently hanging out at the COC offices with some other small friends.


Posted by Gianna Wichelow / in 2010/2011 / comments (2) / permalink

The Prince (4/14/2011 3:20:00 AM)
I love you!!!!
one of the ugly sisters (4/14/2011 3:22:00 AM)
She looks too beautiful, dammit!

Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001



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