G. F. Handel's 'The Resurrection'
Please Note: I hold no background or education in opera or ballet so I will not comment on this highly trained area of expertise in these two performance art forms. Instead, I will comment on the staging and the production elements used in ‘The Resurrection’.
Although the Easter celebration for Christians and Roman Catholics has concluded, the messages of G. F. Handel’s ‘The Resurrection’ are still aptly appropriate for those who hold a belief and trust in the faith as I do. The influence of the Catholic Church when this opera was first sung, I’m sure, would have probably had audiences completely mesmerized with gasping and bated breath. Historically, Christian catechesis pervaded the lives of individuals who were judiciously aware of the saving graces of Christ versus the damnation of souls into Hell.
A story focusing on the resurrection of Christ most certainly needs to be shared with as many as possible. I have had the opportunity to attend a few operas so I was interested to see how Handel’s story would be shared online since Covid cannot allow us to be in a theatre to hear these exquisite voices soaring to the rafters.
This story of ‘The Resurrection’ requires immense space to create the world of Heaven, the world on Earth, and the suggested world to where Lucifer would soon be banished.
Could this ambitious design be created for an operatic digital platform?
Under the skillful hands of Set Designer and Art Direction Gerard Gauci who utilizes the playing space of the St. Lawrence Hall to its fullest, Opera Atelier made it work.
Splendidly, I might add.
From the Opera Atelier website: “Handel’s ‘The Resurrection’ details the events between Good Friday and Easter Sunday with the forces of darkness and light often in metaphorical duel and conflict that is heightened through highly specialized vocal tour-de-forces.”
Marcel Canzona’s film editing at the opening of the production created an impressive heavenly atmosphere of light and sound which transported me away from the confines of my chair at home. This ‘Resurrection’ production was filmed in the Ballroom of Toronto’s St. Lawrence Hall and Gerard Gauci’s set and art designs and direction were used to full advantage to create these three immense spaces. At one point, I admired especially the celestial light which streamed in from the three windows. Whether it was perfectly or naturally timed, it was a breathtaking effect that I can still recall.
Stylized work in costume design in this production added further details to the specific characterizations. Michael LeGouffe’s costumes effectively utilized opposing light and dark colours for grand effect. The dazzling white costumes of the Angels in the first number contrasted with the dark earth tones for Lucifer were highly effective. At one moment the Angel (Carla Huhtanen) and Lucifer (Douglas Williams) are perched behind their platforms and are magnetically and intensely focused on their courtroom like and accusatory charges of good and evil are fiercely flung at each other.
To maintain this keenly heightened and focal intensity to propel the story forward, director Marshall Pynkoski and Choreographer Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg always maintain a consistent control of the story’s artistic vision. Movement and staging of individuals and the corps de ballet are gorgeously stylized to watch. Characterizations are subtly distinct with fine nuances.
Mr. Williams’ Lucifer is suavely and seductively debonair. Ms. Huhtanen’s Angel reflects Godly and goodly righteousness with strength and charisma. Meghan Lindsay as Mary Magdalene and Allyson McHardy as Cleophas are women of fortitude and tenacity as they grow from unspeakable grief and sadness to knowing that the death of Christ (and of all) is not the end. As St. John the Evangelist Colin Ainsworth’s radiant smile and reassuring vocal presence reminded me of the power of having faith and belief in the heavenly God when it appears we are in the darkest hours.
Final Comments: Glorious to hear and divinely to see, Opera Atelier’s production of Handel’s ‘The Resurrection’ becomes a triumphant and dazzling spectacle of sight and sound with a strong underlying tone that darkness will cease and lightness will shine forever.
Opera Atelier presents G. F. Handel’s ‘The Resurrection’
Featuring Soprano Carla Huhtanen, Soprano Meghan Lindsay, Mezzo-Soprano Allyson McHardy, Tenor Colin Ainsworth and Bass-Baritone Douglas Williams, Handel’s The Resurrection also showcases the incomparable Artists of Atelier Ballet, and Tafelmusik (Elisa Citterio, Music Director) under the baton of Opera Atelier’s Resident Music Director, David Fallis.
Stage Director: Marshall Pynkoski
Choreographer: Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg
Set Designer/Art Director: Gerard Gauci
Film Director/Editor/Director of Photography: Marcel Canzona
Costume Designer: Michael LeGouffe
Streams online to June 20, 2021. For tickets, please visit www.operaatelier.com.
Photo of Douglas Williams and the Artists of Atelier Ballet by Bruce Zinger.