'The Resurrection' by George Frederick Handel
Presented by Opera Atelier
Bruce Zinger. Soprano Meghan Lindsay as Mary Magdalene and Artist of Atelier Ballet Edward Tracz.
Please note I have no educational background or training in the world of opera and ballet. I will comment on the staging of the production.
A visual and sumptuous telling with grace and dignity. Exquisite to watch and extraordinary to hear.
News of Christ’s death has invaded Heaven. The Archangel (Carla Huhtanen) and Lucifer (Douglas Williams) hold a heated argument with the latter claiming victory over Christ’s death while the former insists that death is a victory for heaven and all of humankind. On earth, Mary Magdalene (Meghan Lindsay) mourns Christ’s death. The arrival of Cleophas (Allyson McHardy) leads these two women to consider what they have seen during the last hours of Christ’s life: the crown of thorns, the nails that pierced his feet and his face.
St. John the Evangelist (Colin Ainsworth) arrives and reminds the women that Christ said he would return to them. He encourages the women to visit Christ’s tomb while he goes to care for Mary, Christ’s mother.
In heaven, the Archangel calls from purgatory all souls who have existed prior to Christ’s crucifixion and encourages them to follow in the Lord’s footsteps. The Archangel leads them out of purgatory triumphantly. In turn, the Angel celebrates Christ’s resurrection and invites all the world to rejoice. Lucifer is both horrified and defeated by the news and continues to threaten vengeance on all humanity. He soon realizes he is defeated and without recourse falls once again into the depths of Hell.
The women arrive at the tomb and are greeted by the angel in white who assures them Christ has risen. The angel encourages the women to spread the joyful news. St. John meets Cleophas and describes his meeting with Christ’s mother – Christ has revealed himself to his mother. There is a great joy.
In conclusion, the entire company celebrates the resurrection which allows Earth to rise to Heaven.
Gerard Gauci’s set design and Kimberly Purtell’s lighting design resplendently create a wonderful world of hues, tones, shades, and magnificent colours. There are two opposing stands on stage left and right from which the Archangel and Lucifer hurl operatically awesome debates back and forth. Christ’s tomb is centre stage covered with a gold curtain. It is a two-level set. There are staircases left and right from which some of the performers ascend and descend. Beautiful golden drapes at the top of the stairs indicate Heaven from which the Archangel descends to speak with Lucifer.
The richness of Alessia Urbani’s costume designs is another visual feast. My eyes were continually moving when new characters entered. An initial look of ten seconds can give a strong first impression and this was most present in Douglas Williams. His dark t-shirt fitted his muscular structural frame. Long black boots and tight-fitting pants indicate a character who is in complete control.
Marshall Pynkoski directs the production with an effectively controlled passion for the work. Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg’s avowed respect for dance and movement has been finely captured in the work of the Atelier Ballet artists. I recognized two names of artists whom I’ve seen in other productions. I hope I can catch the names of the other artists whom I did not recognize in other shows in future. It was also marvellous to catch Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg on stage at one point doing what she obviously loves doing.
David Fallis conducts the music with a passionate and emotional intensity.
Douglas Williams is a sexy and seductive Lucifer who, at one point, tries to win over the Archangel with his suave and debonair nature. As the Archangel, Carla Huhtanen remains a vocal powerhouse in the back-and-forth vocal debate about who remains in control of Heaven after the death of Christ. Colin Ainsworth offers an extraordinary contrast to Douglas Williams’ Lucifer. Ainsworth’s St. John the Evangelist remains grounded in temperance and faith in not losing hope in a promise made. Allyson McHardy and Megan Lindsay credibly respond and react to each other as Cleophas and Mary Magdalene. They are incredible women of strength and fortitude.
Final Comments: This production of ‘The Resurrection’ had been gorgeously filmed during the pandemic. It was fine to watch the filmed adaptation but nothing beats a live performance.
I do hope to see more of Opera Atelier in the future.
Running time: 115 minutes
The production has now closed but I encourage all of you to attend Opera Atelier productions. For more information, visit operaatelier.com.
OPERA ATELIER presented George Frederick Handel’s
THE RESURRECTION at Koerner Hall, Telus Centre for the Performing Arts and Learning.
Conductor: David Fallis
Stage Director: Marshall Pynkoski
Choreographer: Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg
Resident Set Designer: Gerard Gauci
Lighting Designer: Kimberly Purtrell
Head of Wardrobe: Alessia Urbani
Production Stage Manager: Tamara Vuckovic
Company: Colin Ainsworth, Carla Huhtanen, Meghan Lindsay, Allyson McHardy, Douglas Williams.
Artists of Atelier Ballet: Eric César De Mello Da Silva, Juri Hiraoka, Elizabeth Katashnikova, Kevin Law, Courtney Law, Kealan McLaughlin, Julia Sedwick, Cynthia Smithers, Edward Tracz, Dominic Who, Xi Yi, Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg