After pandemic delays, Opera Atelier’s fully staged production of Handel’s The Resurrection will finally take place April 6, 8 and 9 in Toronto’s Koerner Hall. Musical accompaniment will be performed by Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra with conductor David Fallis.
“Handel’s expansive vision for this timeless story of rebirth resulted in the creation of one of his greatest works,” says Marshall Pynkoski C.M., Opera Atelier Founding Co-Artistic Director and The Resurection’s Stage Director in a statement. “I’m delighted to be presenting this work as was originally intended — a work to be experienced by a live audience in a stunning venue. We view this production as the perfect opportunity to welcome the spring and embrace a city that is returning to live theatre with great enthusiasm.”
Co-Artistic Director Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg C.M. has created the choreography for the opera, as performed by the Artists of Atelier Ballet. Opera Atelier’s resident designer Gerard Gauci has created a multi-level set for the performances featuring double staircases from the choir loft to the concert hall floor.
Handel’s The Resurrection
Handel’s The Resurrection, or La resurrezione, HWV 47, was first performed on in 1708 on Easter Sunday, April 8. A libretto by Carlo Sigismondo Capece, court poet to exiled queen Marie Casimire of Poland, accompanies Handel’s oratorio. The premiere took place via a private performance at the home of Handel’s then-current patron in Rome.
The story covers the events from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, and consists of recitatives and arias. A filmed version was produced in 2021 during the pandemic.
The characters will be sung by an all-Canadian cast that includes:
- Lucifer — bass-baritone Douglas Williams;
- Mary Magdalene — soprano Meghan Lindsay;
- The Angel — soprano Carla Huhtanen;
- John the Evangelist — tenor Colin Ainsworth;
- Mary Cleophas — mezzo-soprano Allyson McHardy.
On the human plane, familiar events unfold leading up to Christ’s resurrection, with Mary Magdalene, Cleophas and St. John the Evangelist mourning his death at the hands of the Romans. On the celestial plane, an Archangel argues with Lucifer over his claims about Christ’s crucifixion. There are moments of humour as the two battle it out. It’s a story, and a piece, with emotional highs and lows.
Cast and creatives
Coloratura soprano Carla Huhtanen was last seen in Opera Atelier’s Don Giovanni in 2019. Huhtanen is well known for her vocal range and acting talent. The Artists of Atelier Ballet will be the Angel’s allies in her quest to enter Lucifer’s realm. Douglas Williams is renowned for his interpretations of Italian repertoire. Tenor Colin Ainsworth is returning to the very first professional role he ever sang some two decades ago, also with Opera Atelier. He’s since carved out a career as one of Canada’s leading tenors.
Known as one of the best interpreters of Mozart anywhere, Canadian soprano Meghan Lindsay is a frequent Opera Atelier performer, and a fan favourite for her theatrical as well as singing abilities. Mezzo Allyson McHardy has appeared with companies and in festivals all over the world, including the Paris Opera, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Chicago Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Glyndebourne Festival, San Francisco Opera, and the Canadian Opera Company, among others. She has performed a variety of roles and repertoire over her career.
Jennifer Parr will provide fight choreography for the Artists of Atelier Ballet, and it will represent the first time both male and female Artists will be armed with swords. Kimberly Purtell, lighting, and costume designer Michael Legouffe complete the creative team.
“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’s production of Handel’s The Resurrection will be performed at Koerner Hall on April 6, 8 and 9, 2023. Tickets here.
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