Opera Atelier: The Resurrection, on Stage Apr. 11-19, 2020 @ Koerner Hall

Handel’s first acknowledged masterpiece restored to its original grandeur in Opera Atelier’s fully-staged production

Opera Atelier announces the much anticipated finale of its 2019/20 Season with Handel’s The Resurrectionon stage from April 11–19, 2020 at Koerner Hall, TELUS Centre. The Resurrection marks the Canadian premiere of Handel’s first acknowledged masterpiece in a fully-staged production. Opera Atelier’s lavish production will feature an innovative, multi-level set by Gerard GauciTafelmusik Baroque Orchestra (Elisa Citterio, Music Director) under the baton of David Fallis, and choreography by Founding Co-Artistic Director Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg C.M. performed by Artists of Atelier Ballet. The all-star Canadian cast includes Soprano Carla HuhtanenSoprano Meghan LindsayMezzo Soprano Allyson McHardyTenor Isaiah Bell, and Bass Stephen Hegedus.

Artist of Atelier Ballet Dominic Who. Photo by Bruce Zinger

“Handel’s expansive vision for this timeless story of rebirth is widely considered one of his greatest works” says Opera Atelier Founding Co-Artistic Director Marshall Pynkoski C.M., who is also the stage director for the production. “I’m fascinated by this world in which the individual experiences spiritual ecstasy through a ravishing of the senses.”

Written for Easter of 1708, Handel’s The Resurrection details the events between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, and the tension leading up to Christ’s resurrection following his crucifixion and burial. The narrative plays out simultaneously across two spheres. In the celestial realm, a militant Archangel demands entrance to Hades and disputes the claims of a boastful Lucifer, insisting Christ’s death was an act of sacrificial love; meanwhile on Earth, Mary Magdalene, Cleophas and St. John the Evangelist struggle to make sense of Christ’s brutal death. Handel’s astonishingly sensual score and vivid word painting act as a catalyst for an exceptional play of emotions for all of the protagonists.

Soprano Mireille Asselin. Photo by Bruce Zinger.

This production of The Resurrection brings Handel’s transcendent work to life through an inventive transformation of Koerner Hall by set designer Gauci — a major undertaking unlike anything Opera Atelier has ever presented. The multi-level set features double staircases leading from the choir loft to the floor of the concert hall, delineating the supernatural and earthly worlds. The set also features two enormous pulpits for exclusive use by the Archangel and Lucifer, mirroring the story’s liturgical foundation. The staging is further enhanced by the evocative lighting design of Michelle Ramsay.

In a significant departure from Handel’s original composition, the role of the Archangel — written for a castrato — will be performed by Huhtanen. Last seen in Opera Atelier’s Don Giovanni, Huhtanen’s renowned vocal range and razor-sharp coloratura makes her a natural for the role of the Archangel. Distinctly costumed as a female Angel, Huhtanen interacts with the Artists of Atelier Ballet as a corps of male and female angelic beings.

Hegedus will play the role of Lucifer — a superb linguist, Hegedus is renowned for his smooth delivery of Italian repertoire. Bell is ideally suited for the St. John the Evangelist role, as a commanding yet empathic young tenor. Lindsay, as Mary Magdalene, and McHardy, as Mary Cleophas, round out the cast, promising deeply sensitive and nuanced performances.

The production’s choreography by Lajeunesse Zingg celebrates the original splendour of Handel’s opera, and takes great advantage of Koerner Hall’s expansive stage – making use of the full corps of the Artists of Atelier Ballet. As the opera progresses, the presence of the divine becomes more palpable, and the dancers, as angelic beings consequently become more integrated into the action – interacting with the physical worlds of Mary Magdalene, Cleophas and St. John, and the supernatural realm of the Archangel and Lucifer. The Resurrection represents the first time both male and female Artists of Atelier Ballet will be armed with swords. Jennifer Parr’s fight choreography underlines the militant tone of the production’s opening aria.

“It is a delight to perform Handel’s work in Toronto’s celebrated Koerner Hall.” says Lajeunesse Zingg. “Handel’s superb score will be well-served by the hall’s renowned acoustics, as our artists explore the ecstatic sensuality of Counter-Reformation Rome.”

Opera Atelier Co-Artistic Director Pynkoski has collaborated with many of the finest artists in the world of early music and his productions of opera and ballet have toured throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Toronto Arts Award, the Opera Canada Ruby Award for outstanding contribution to opera in Canada, and the TIME Magazine award for Classical music. He has been awarded the Order of Canada and most recently named Officier dans L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Government of France.

Opera Atelier Co-Artistic Director and Choreographer Lajeunesse Zingg has choreographed and performed in major theatres internationally. She received her training in London, Copenhagen, and Paris. Lajeunesse Zingg has received a multitude of awards including the prestigious Toronto Arts Award, the Opera Canada Ruby Award for outstanding achievement in the field of opera in Canada, and was named by TIME Magazine as one of Canada’s most influential artists in the field of Classical music. She has been awarded the Order of Canada for her contribution to ballet and opera in Canada, and was most recently named Officier dans L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Government of France.

This presentation was made possible through the generous support of Production Underwriter Vivian Elizabeth Pilar.

About Opera Atelier (OperaAtelier.com)
Established in 1985, Opera Atelier is Canada’s premier period opera/ballet company, specializing in producing opera, ballet, and drama from the 17th and 18th centuries. While drawing upon the aesthetics and ideals of the period, Opera Atelier goes beyond “reconstruction” and infuses each production with an inventive theatricality that resonates with modern audiences. These productions feature soloists of international acclaim, period ballet, original instruments, elaborate stage decor, intricate costumes, and an imaginative energy that sets Opera Atelier apart. Founding Co-Artistic Directors Marshall Pynkoski C.M. and Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg C.M. were both awarded the Order of Canada for their contributions to opera and ballet, and were recently both named Officers of the Order of Arts and Letters (Officiers dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) from the French Republic.

Opera Atelier has been acclaimed throughout Canada, and tours on a regular basis to the Royal Opera House in Versailles. The company has also performed at the Glimmerglass Festival in New York, Salzburg Festival, the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro, and La Scala in Milan. Opera Atelier has collaborated with some of early music’s most distinguished artists including Andrew Parrott, Trevor Pinnock, Hervé Niquet, Marc Minkowski and many others.

Through historically informed performance practice, Opera Atelier allows audiences to experience the continuum of musical form; hearing and seeing great works in the ways these works might have first resonated. In inspired programming, Opera Atelier creates art that speaks to the here and now; finding fresh relevance for society in evergreen creations. Through impassioned outreach and audience development, Opera Atelier aims to secure a future by ensuring opera has a place in the hearts and lives of the upcoming generation.

Dates:April 11–19, 2020
Venue:Koerner Hall in the TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning
273 Bloor St. W.
Toronto, ON
Ticket Prices$49—$205 including taxes and fees
Tickets & InfoOperaAtelier.com