Stage Door News

Toronto: Opera Atelier begins its 2022/23 season with Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas”

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Opera Atelier is delighted to announce the company’s return to the Elgin Theatre with its iconic production of Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, on stage October 20 and 22 at 7:30pm and October 23 at 2:30pm. Universally acknowledged as the greatest opera written in the English language, Purcell’s masterpiece is drenched in longing as Dido’s obsession with the Trojan prince Aeneas plays out against a backdrop of relentless fate and magic.

“We are thrilled to be returning to the Elgin Theatre, after a four-year absence, with Purcell’s extraordinary work, Dido and Aeneas,” says Marshall Pynkoski, C.M., Founding Co-Artistic Director. “At roughly one-hour in length, the opera also functions wonderfully as an introduction to the artform for audiences who have not yet experienced opera or ballet, including children and young adults.”

Based on Virgil’s epic poem The Aeneid, Dido and Aeneas was composed by Purcell with libretto by Nahum Tate in 1689. The opera deals with Dido, the queen of Carthage, and her obsession with the Trojan prince Aeneas, who magically appears in her kingdom following the Trojan War. The story plays out against a backdrop of superb music, glorious dances, baroque scenic effects, and a bevy of witches who keep the passion and drama balanced with outrageous Shakespearean humour.

Dido and Aeneas features a cast of Canada’s finest singers, all making their role debuts. Soprano Meghan Lindsay and tenor Colin Ainsworth portray the ill-fated lovers, and soprano Measha Brueggergosman-Lee takes a star turn as the hilariously wicked Sorceress. The cast also includes soprano Mireille Asselin as Belinda, soprano Cynthia Akemi Smithers, mezzo soprano Danielle MacMillan, and tenor Spencer Britten making his Opera Atelier debut.

The 60-minute production includes stage direction by Pynkoski, the full corps of the Artists of Atelier Ballet, with choreography by Founding Co-Artistic Director Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg C.M., and also features a select orchestra of superb soloists from Tafelmusik on period instruments. Opera Atelier Music Director David Fallis will conduct on October 20 and 22, and Opera Atelier’s Assistant Music Director Christopher Bagan will make his Opera Atelier conducting debut on October 23. For all performances, Tafelmusik will be accompanied by the Bach Children’s Choir and members of the Nathaniel Dett Chorale.

“Opera Atelier’s production of Dido and Aeneas restores dancing to the central role it played in its original production. There were 17 dances in the opera’s 1689 premiere, ten of which have been mounted by Opera Atelier,” says Lajeunesse Zingg. “The Artists of Atelier Ballet will be seamlessly woven into the staging in the roles of courtiers, witches, sailors, and spirits.”

The production includes set and costume design by Gerard Gauci and lighting design by Kimberly Purtell.

There will be a pre-performance talk before each performance in the Elgin Theatre Lower Lobby, commencing at 6:45pm on October 20 and 22 and at 1:45pm on October 23. The pre-performance talks will be hosted by soprano Karine White, Prof. Roberto Nickel and Dr. Hilary Donaldson.

Tickets and information, please visit:

Photo: Meghan Lindsay and Colin Ainsworth. © 2022 Bruce Zinger.