Stage Door News

Toronto: Opera Atelier’s production of Handel’s “The Resurrection” begins streaming May 27

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Opera Atelier announces the anticipated new date for the online presentation of Handel’s The Resurrection - fully-staged and filmed at St. Lawrence Hall, in strict compliance with provincial health and safety regulations - streaming May 27, 2021 at 7pm ET (Available until June 10, 2021). The Resurrection marks the Canadian premiere of Handel’s first acknowledged operatic masterpiece and will feature some of the country’s finest interpreters of Handel’s music. The all-star cast includes Soprano Carla Huhtanen, Soprano Meghan Lindsay, Mezzo-Soprano Allyson McHardy, Tenor Colin Ainsworth, and Bass-Baritone Douglas Williams.

“We are thrilled with the opportunity to mount and film one of the most remarkable accounts of Christ’s resurrection,” says Opera Atelier Founding Co-Artistic Director Marshall Pynkoski C.M. “Handel’s expansive vision for this story of victorious rebirth is widely considered one of his greatest works. Not only is the production a feast for the senses — from the impressive set design to the complex choreography to the exquisite score — it is a moving tribute to the universal story of sacrifice and redemption, as embodied by a heroic protagonist.” 

Opera Atelier’s lavish production will include an innovative, multi-level set by Gerard Gauci, musical accompaniment from Tafelmusik (Elisa Citterio, Music Director) under the baton of David Fallis, and choreography by Co-Artistic Director Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg C.M. performed by Artists of Atelier Ballet. 

Written for Easter of 1708, Handel’s The Resurrection details the events between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, centering on Christ’s resurrection following his crucifixion and burial. The narrative plays out simultaneously across two spheres: In the celestial realm, a combative Angel disputes Lucifer’s claims of victory, while on earth, Mary Magdalene, Mary Cleophas, and St. John the Evangelist, struggle to come to terms with the stark reality of Christ’s death.

This production of The Resurrection brings Handel’s transcendent oratorio to life through an inventive transformation of St. Lawrence Hall by set designer Gauci. The multi-level set has been reimagined as a contemporary installation in a historic setting incorporating elements from Gauci’s original design, scaffolding, lighting towers and the room itself to create a visual aesthetic never before seen by OA audiences. 

The staging and design is further enhanced by Film Director / Editor/ Director of Photography Marcel Canzona, who will realize the production for film. 

"Jeannette and I first encountered Marcel's work several years ago, and were at once struck by his clear, coherent storytelling and exceptional editing techniques" says Pynkoski. "We are both pleased to welcome Marcel as a key collaborator for OA's production of Handel's The Resurrection."

In a significant departure from the opera’s first performance, the role of the Angel — written for a castrato — will be performed by Huhtanen. Last seen in Opera Atelier’s Don Giovanni, Huhtanen’s renowned coloratura brings brilliance and edge to the Angel’s showstopping arias. Distinctly costumed as a female Angel, Huhtanen leads the Artists of Atelier Ballet as a corps of male and female supernatural beings. 

Douglas Williams will play the role of Lucifer — a superb linguist, Williams is renowned for his clear delivery of Italian repertoire. Ainsworth’s mellifluous tenor voice is ideally suited for the role of St. John the Evangelist. Lindsay, as Mary Magdalene, and McHardy, as Cleophas, round out the cast, offering deeply sensitive and nuanced performances.

The production’s choreography by Lajeunesse Zingg restores the original splendour of Handel’s opera, employing the full corps of the Artists of Atelier Ballet and spanning the entire breadth of the expansive set. The dancers engage throughout the opera as supernatural beings who observe and participate in the lives of the opera’s earthly protagonists. The Resurrection represents the first time both male and female Artists of Atelier Ballet will engage in swordplay, designed by Jennifer Parr. The staging underlies the militant tone of the production’s opening aria, in which an army of angels aggressively approaches the gates of hell to demand entry into Lucifer’s realm.

“It is a delight to perform Handel’s work in Opera Atelier's home - St. Lawrence Hall,” says Lajeunesse Zingg. "The Ballroom in St. Lawrence Hall evokes the same grandeur as the original Roman baroque ballroom in which The Resurrection was originally performed.”

To complement the presentation of Handel’s The Resurrection, Opera Atelier invites audiences behind-the-scenes for an up-close-and-personal experience with singers, Artists of Atelier Ballet, and  Tafelmusik in the newly released documentary short film The Making of The Resurrection. The 30-minute documentary was filmed by Marcel Canzona at Koerner Hall and St. Lawrence Hall in March 2021 during a week of Opera Atelier rehearsals and recordings and provides unprecedented access into the creative process of mounting an opera during a pandemic. You can view The Making of The Resurrection here:

Opera Atelier Founding 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 Officer dans L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Government of France.

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 Officer dans L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Government of France.

This presentation was made possible through the unprecedented support of Production Underwriter Vivian Elizabeth Pilar. The production is dedicated to the memory of Patricia Barretto, whose legacy as Opera Atelier Executive Director left an indelible imprint on the company. The dedication to Ms. Barretto has been acknowledged by a major gift from long-time Opera Atelier supporter Michael Wekerle. Opera Atelier also salutes an Anonymous Donor for graciously providing the funding to support the rehearsal process for Handel’s The Resurrection.

Photo: Dominic Who. © 2020 Bruce Zinger.