Opera Atelier has announced its 2019/20 season. As usual there are two main stage shows. The first is a revival of their 2011 production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. It runs from October 31st to November 9th, 2019, in the Ed Mirvish Theatre. It’s a production that plays up the comedy and the elements of the commedia dell’arte in the piece while pretty much eschewing anything deeper or darker. The cast includes Douglas Williams as the Don with Stephen Hegedus as Leporello, Colin Ainsworth, as Don Ottavio, Meghan Lindsay as Donna Anna, Carla Huhtanen as Donna Elvira, Mireille Asselin as Zerlina, Olivier Laquerre as Masetto, and Gustav Andreassen as Commendatore. beautiful Ed Mirvish Theatre. David Fallis conducts.
Opera Atelier’s french double header opened last night at the Elgin Theatre. It was, bar the occasional twist, classic Opera Atelier. They presented two French baroque operas in their distinctive style with a little humour and none of the excesses that have sometimes crept in.
Opera Atelier have announced their 2018/19 season. As usual, there are two shows. In the Fall there is a double bill of Charpentier’s Actéonpaired with Rameau’s Pygmalion (Oct. 25 – Nov. 3, 2018). Colin Ainsworth, who has also been named as OA’s first “artist in residence”, features in both title roles with Mireille Asselin as Diana and Amour and Allyson McHardy as Juno and Céphise. The supporting cast includes Jesse Blumberg, Christopher Enns, Meghan Lindsay, Cynthia Smithers and Anna Sharpe. Pygmalion will be prefaced by Opera Atelier’s first Canadian commission for solo baroque violin and contemporary dancing, entitled Inception. It will be performed by composer/violinist Edwin Huizinga and choreographer/Artist of Atelier Ballet, Tyler Gledhill. Following its Toronto dates, the show will tour to the Royal Opera House in Versailles.
Season announcements, it seems, are like the King Street streetcar(1). You wait for ages then three come along at once. This time it’s Opera Atelier announcing the 2017/18 season. As ever there are two productions. A remount of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro runs October 26th to November 4th. The cast icludes Douglas Williams, making his Opera Atelier debut, in the title role, with Mireille Asselin (Susanna), Stephen Hegedus (Count Almaviva), Peggy Kriha Dye (Countess Almaviva), Mireille Lebel (Cherubino), Laura Pudwell (Marcellina), Gustav Andreassen (Bartolo), Christopher Enns (Basilio/Don Curzio), Olivier Laquerre (Antonio), and Grace Lee (Barbarina). This one will be sung in English.
Patrick Jang, Carla Huhtanen and Phillip Addis in “The Marriage of Figaro” (2010). Photo by Bruce Zinger.
Opera Atelier’s production of Mozart’s Lucio Silla opened last night at the Elgin. This is, more or less, the production that played at the Salzburg Festival and, later, at La Scala to considerable critical acclaim. It’s not hard to see why. It’s much the best thing Opera Atelier has done in a while. It’s more restrained than recent shows and trimmed of excess the familiar approach looks quite fresh again.
Opera Atelier opened their 30th season last night with Lully’s Armide. It’s hard to think of a work that better encapsulates what Opera Atelier is and has always aspired to be. It’s French, it’s 17th century and it’s heavily dependent on ballet, and ballet of an aesthetic that pretty much defines Opera Atelier. The whole Opera Atelier aesthetic package is there in spades. Bare chested male dancers in tights that leave little to the imagination, heaving bosoms, ladies twirling prettily in full skirts, castanets and finger cymbals, chorus singing off stage, camp “baroque” acting, tight buttocked homoeroticism, singers cast as much for eye candy value as vocals, a tendency to play for laughs,Tafelmusik. To be fair, there were a few innovations. I think I heard a more “realistic” vocal style. The singers were prepared to make ugly sounds when the emotional context demanded it, rather than an endless flow of prettiness. The homoeroticism got a BDSM twist in Act 3. Still, this was very much “by the book” Opera Atelier and if that’s your bag you’ll love it.
Opera Atelier has announced its plans for the 2015/16 season. As seems to have become the norm, the Toronto season will feature one new (to Toronto anyway) production and one remount. The new piece will be Mozart’s little seen Lucio Silla which played at last year’s Salzburg Festival( with a considerably starrier cast) and which is headed for La Scala in a few weeks time. The title role will be sung by Kresimir Spicer, alongside Inga Kalna (Cinna), Mireille Asselin (Celia), Peggy Kriha Dye (Cecillio) and Meghan Lindsay (Giunia). David Fallis and Tafelmusik will be in the pit. There will be six performances as follows; April 7th, 9th, 10th (3:00pm), 12th, 15th, and 16th (4:30pm), 2016 (start times 7:30 pm except where noted). FWIW here’s a review of the Salzburg production.
Opera Atelier announces its usual two production season. The fall 2014 production will be Handel’s Alcina with Meghan Lindsay in the title role. She will be joined by Allyson McHardy as Ruggiero, Marie Lenormand as Bradamante, Mireille Asselin as Morgana, Krešimir Špicer as Oronte and Olivier Laquerre as Melisso. Despite the absence of Curtis Sullivan, the advance publicity suggests that the trend to ever increasing amounts of bare flesh will continue.
The spring 2015 production will be Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice in the Berlioz orchestration. This will push Tafelmusik even further into 19th century romantic rep. Is Tannhäuser on the cards? Mireille Lebel will sing Orpheus, Peggy Kriha Dye appears as Eurydice with Meghan Lindsay as Amour.
In many ways this is the most interesting season OA have offered for some time and the venture into Handel is very welcome. More details and tickets can be found here.
There’s a lot to like in Opera Atelier’s current production of Weber’s Der Freischütz but also some things that are just plain puzzling. I enjoyed it but certain aesthetic choices made no sense at all to me.
Let’s start with the good stuff. The OA template was relaxed quite a bit, particularly in the dance department. Allowing the women to dance in point shoes allowed for a degree of choreographic flexibility that was most welcome to me. This, from a dance point of view, was the best OA production I have seen. The singing, though stylistically inconsistent, was also uniformly excellent. Meghan Lindsay’s Agathe was superb. She had much the most dramatic voice on display and, to me, was the truest to the real sensibility of the piece. Carla Huhtanen, as Aanchen, was also excellent though in such a different way that wondered whether they were in the same production. Solid singing from the men too especially Krešimir Špicer as Max who was very stylish, if not especially heroic. The design and lighting elements were also not too constrained by baroque considerations and worked pretty well.
Meghan Lindsay and Krešimir Špicer in Opera Atelier’s production of Der Freischütz (Bruce Zinger photo).