Stage Door News

Toronto: Opera Atelier launches $10 million “Campaign for Creation” led by the largest gift in OA’s history

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Marshall Pynkoski and Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg, Co-Artistic Directors of Opera Atelier, along with Alexandra Skoczylas, Executive Director, and the Board of Directors are pleased to announce Campaign for Creation: Opera Atelier’s Fund for Our Future. Opera Atelier’s first major capital campaign officially launched with the single largest individual gift in the company’s 30-year history, totalling $500,000, from longtime patron Vivian Elizabeth Pilar, towards Opera Atelier’s goal of $10 million in creation capital by December 2024.

The Campaign for Creation will directly support Pynkoski and Lajeunesse Zingg’s long-term goals and vision for the company: to create new historically informed productions such as Handel’s Julius Caesar, Massenet’s Werther, and Grétry’s Richard Coeur-de-Lion; to refurbish and expand iconic Opera Atelier productions such as Mozart’s The Magic Flute and The Angel Speaks; to provide high quality education and outreach programs to students throughout the Greater Toronto Area; to build ongoing international profile in major opera houses and festivals internationally; and to nurture the continued development of Canadian artists here in Toronto.

“We are honoured that Opera Atelier’s Campaign for Creation has been launched with an extraordinary lead gift from longtime patron, supporter, and friend of the company for more than 20 years, Vivian Elizabeth Pilar,” says Pynkoski. “This transformational gift was given because of a true passion for Opera Atelier, and reflects Vivian’s wish to assist in the creation of a lasting legacy that will ensure the company’s thriving future. We applaud her leadership and heartfelt commitment, and are confident her generosity will act as a catalyst for other donors to join this campaign, helping to secure Opera Atelier’s future at home and around the world.” 

Pilar’s single largest individual gift to Opera Atelier has also sparked the creation of a named endowment fund: Vivian Elizabeth Pilar Fund (VEP Fund). The VEP Fund will support Opera Atelier and the Artists of Atelier Ballet, ensuring long-term financial stability while furthering a powerful legacy for the company. The investments within the VEP Fund will be held at the Ontario Arts Foundation.                      

A note from Vivian Pilar -

“Over many years I have watched Opera Atelier grow into the extraordinary company it is today. Marshall Pynkoski and Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg have consistently trusted their instincts, vision and interpretation of the music, dance, drama and beauty of the baroque period.

Having come from an entrepreneurial family of several generations of husband and wife teams, I know first hand the dedication required to successfully nurture the growth of a company. Marshall and Jeannette have continually maintained their quest for perfection. I have grown to love and respect this wonderful couple so much as I’ve watched them strive to attain work of the highest standard.

It is my great hope that this gift will encourage others to join with me and offer their support towards the further growth of Opera Atelier thus adding to the cultural life of Toronto as well. It is my hope that others will give generously so the vision of Marshall and Jeannette may continue to grow and prosper to build a strong legacy for Opera Atelier.”

“Looking ahead, it is a pivotal time for Opera Atelier,” says Pynkoski. “Like other major arts organizations in Canada, Opera Atelier has reached a place where we cannot afford to create new productions, refurbish existing productions, fund education and community programs, and balance the operating budget without philanthropic gifts from individual donors. Securing funding commitments not only ensures that Opera Atelier survives, but thrives. Together, we can build a firm foundation that will ensure the ongoing development and presentation of outstanding new productions that our opera and ballet audiences have come to expect.”

For more  information and to help lay the foundation for Opera Atelier’s thriving future, please visit: Campaign for Creation: Opera Atelier’s Fund for Our Future.

About Opera Atelier (

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 Artistic Directors Marshall Pynkoski and Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg were both recently awarded the Order of Canada for their contributions to opera and ballet.

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 experiencing great works that reflect the original intentions of the composers, choreographers and librettists in question. 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.