Opera Atelier has just completed a successful season featuring stunning performances, enriching outreach activities, a Canadian premiere, and a new partnership with Mirvish Productions. Our productions of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and Monteverdi’s The Return of Ulysses were joyful and moving, in turn – it was a season to remember!
Opera Atelier’s 2017-2018 season opened in October with The Marriage of Figaro, Mozart’s hilarious tale of love, betrayal and forgiveness – produced in English! The production featured a stellar cast, led by American bass–baritone Douglas Williams making his Opera Atelier debut in the title role. Douglas has quickly become an audience favourite, and we are so pleased that he will join us again next season. Douglas was part of an ensemble of some truly wonderful singers: Mireille Asselin, Stephen Hegedus, Peggy Kriha Dye, Mireille Lebel, Laura Pudwell, Gustav Andreassen, Christopher Enns, Olivier Laquerre, and Grace Lee.
In February, we offered the Toronto debut of Harmonia Sacra – the concert Opera Atelier performed at the Royal Chapel in Versailles in May 2017. The beautifully staged presentation featured the music of Henry Purcell interpreted by soprano Mireille Asselin, baritone Jesse Blumberg, an ensemble from Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, and baroque dancing by Artists of Atelier Ballet. We were also very proud to present our first Canadian commission for solo violin and contemporary dance entitled Inception, written and performed by Edwin Huizinga, and choreographed and danced by Tyler Gledhill.
“With conductor David Fallis surrounded by the basso continuo of Tafelmusik… paired with high-end exuberance from director Marshall Pynkoski, whose touch on 17th- and 18th-century opera remains unmatched in Canada, you can bank on a worthwhile night at the opera.” – Toronto Star
In April, Opera Atelier favourite Kresimir Špicer returned to Opera Atelier to perform the title role in Monteverdi’s The Return of Ulysses, earning a Dora Mavor Moore Award nomination for Best Performance (Opera). Mireille Lebel was incomparable in her role as Penelope. Kresimir Špicer and Mireille Lebel were joined a deeply talented ensemble cast: Carla Huhtanen, Christopher Enns, Isaiah Bell, Aaron Sheehan, Douglas Williams, Kevin Skelton, Michael Taylor, Laura Pudwell, Stephen Hegedus, and Meghan Lindsay. Three of the singers were new to the Opera Atelier stage: Isaiah Bell, Aaron Sheehan and Michael Taylor.
Community Outreach and Education Initiatives
This season, Opera Atelier continued to welcome young audiences to the opera through Operatix, which offers opera-lovers aged 30 and under low cost tickets and special events. Opera Atelier’s Making of an Opera program gave 1,000 young people a one-day, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn about, participate in, and experience the magic of opera, completely free of charge.
We are also continuing to bringing opera to new audiences, collaborating with advocacy groups. In March, Opera Atelier joined with Balance for Blind Adults and community advocate Lauren Wu to offer a four-week workshop series to introduce opera, Monteverdi, and Opera Atelier to Blind and Partially Sighted adults in the Toronto area. We have also partnered with Health Arts Society of Ontario this season and offered free performances for residents of Toronto-area long-term care homes.
Other outreach events this season included a lunchtime performance of scenes from Monteverdi’s The Return of Ulysses at the COC’s free concert series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre in March, and a free lecture and performance in cooperation with Villa Charities and the Istituto Italiano di Cultura in April.
In February, Opera Atelier presented Dance Through Time in two free, standing-room-only shows for families and fans as part of the Royal Ontario Museum’s Family Day programming. Dance Through Time featured students of the School of Atelier Ballet, along with Artists of Atelier Ballet, soprano Karine White, and commentary by Marshall Pynkoski. Both performances were ASL Interpreted, and featured new choreography by two Canadian Artists of Atelier Ballet, Elizabeth Kalashnikova and Dominic Who.
Our annual Versailles Fundraising Gala – the most successful ever – was held this year at the Shangri-La Hotel, raising $175,000 net in support of our education and outreach programs.
Finally, in June we were pleased to announce a new partnership with Mirvish Productions, building on a history of collaboration between our two organizations. As part of this partnership, Opera Atelier’s April 2019 production of Mozart’s Idomeneo will be performed at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in 2019, offering us a much-needed larger stage in a beautiful historic venue.
Thanks go to our audience and supporters, our entire artistic team and crew, our partners at Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, the OA Board of Directors, and the hardworking administration staff for a successful 2017-2018 season!
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