THE SCOOP | Opera Atelier Opens 2022/23 Season With Familiar Faces & Stage In Purcell's 'Dido and Aeneas'

By Anya Wassenberg on September 13, 2022

Artists of Opera Atelier in 'Dido and Aeneas' (Photo courtesy of Opera Atelier)
Artists of Opera Atelier in ‘Dido and Aeneas’ (Photo courtesy of Opera Atelier)

Opera Atelier’s 2022/23 season opener is marked by returns — the company’s return to the elegant Elgin Theatre, and of soprano Measha Brueggergosman-Lee and the Nathaniel Dett Chorale.

“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 in a media release. “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.”

Purcell’s opera tells a story from Greek mythology from Book IV of Virgil’s Aeneid, of Dido, Queen of Carthage, and her obsessive passion for the Trojan prince Aeneas. The opera, with libretto by Nahum Tate, was composed in 1689. There are witches and magic in the story, along with the music and dance.

Artists of Opera Atelier in 'Dido and Aeneas' (Photo courtesy of Opera Atelier)
Artists of Opera Atelier in ‘Dido and Aeneas’ (Photo courtesy of Opera Atelier)

Production details

The all-Canadian cast will be collectively making their debuts in their roles.

  • Soprano Meghan Lindsay and tenor Colin Ainsworth portray Dido and Aeneas;
  • Soprano Measha Brueggergosman-Lee is the wicked Sorceress;
  • Soprano Mireille Asselin plays Belinda;
  • Other cast members include soprano Cynthia Akemi Smithers, mezzo soprano Danielle MacMillan, and tenor Spencer Britten making his Opera Atelier debut;
  • Set and costume design by Gerard Gauci and lighting design by Kimberly Purtell.

Pynkoski directs the 60-minute production, with the full corps of the Artists of Atelier Ballet, and choreography by Founding Co-Artistic Director Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg C.M. 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.

“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.”

Along with the performance, audience members can come early for pre-performance talks hosted by soprano Karine White, Prof. Roberto Nickel, and Dr. Hilary Donaldson before each performance in the Elgin Theatre Lower Lobby 45 minutes before curtain.

Opera Atelier presents Dido and Aeneas October 20 and 22 at 7:30 p.m. and October 23 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets here.

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