An Appreciation of Something Rich & Strange.

by Lynn on December 16, 2020

in The Passionate Playgoer

Streamed until June 1, 2021 from Koerner Hall

Conductor, David Fallis

Director, Marshall Pynkoski

Choreographer (Something Rich & Strange), Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg

Set designer/Art director, Gerard Gauci

Lighting designer, Michelle Ramsay

Filmaker, (The Eye and Eye’s Delight), Marcell Canzona

Composer/performer for The Eye and Eye’s Delight and Inception, Edwin Huizinga

Contemporary Choreographer/Dancer Inception, Tyler Gledhill

Cast: Colin Ainsworth

Mireille Asselin

Measha Brueggergosman

Christopher Ennis

Edwin Huizinga

Danielle MacMillan

Cynthia Smithers

Artists of Atelier Ballet

Tafelmusic musicians.

Exquisite in every way.

Note: As always I am not ‘reviewing’ the singing or dancing of the piece because they have a different vocabulary that I would not presume to comment on with any justice. So consider this as an appreciation of the artistic gifts of director Marshall Pynkoski and choreographer Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg and their creation.

Co-Artistic Directors, Marshall Pynkoski and Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg had planned to produce Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas to celebrate their 35th Anniversary Season this year. A pandemic put a stop to that. They explain: “But Opera Atelier remains committed to creating beautiful theatre—even in the face of adversity! In fact, the challenges inherent in producing under Ontario’s health and safety guidelines have proven to be exciting challenges, and a genuine catalyst for creativity.” It’s such resilience and tenacity along with an unwavering esthetic that has brought Pynkoski and Zingg to the 35th anniversary of this wonderful company.

In Something Rich & Strange, their first offering of their 2020/21 Season of Visions and Dreams,they have created a program of music and dance from such works and composers as: Purcell’s “Music for a While” from Oedipus, Handel’s “Mi Lusinga il dolce affetto” from Aldina, Lully’s “Transformation” from Armide, Rameau’s “Entrance of Mercury” from Platée Locke’s “Curtain Tune” from The Tempest and a new work from Edwin Huizinga entitled The Eye and Eye’s Delight.

While each piece is distinct and separate, Marshall Pynkoski and Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg and their creators have fashioned the evening so that it seems a cohesive piece in which each segment focuses on dreams, secrets, desires and visions and seamlessly blends into one another.

They offer a synopsis: “The evening opens with the appearance of an Angel (the luminous, majestic  Measha Brueggergosman), who is herself recounting a dream-like experience. A doe in the wood catches the eye of the Virgin as she passes by, and as a result, magically gives birth to the Unicorn.

The Angel, in turn, bends her face so close to that of the Virgin, that the encounter instills something beyond ecstasy—the Angel’s encounter with perfection engenders terror—a terror that becomes the catalyst for song.

Tonight we are reaching towards perfection—a beauty so extra-ordinary we can only approach it through the safety of sleep.

Morpheus, The God of Sleep, appears and sends the entire cast into a deep, protective slumber, from which each singer and dancer emerges to recount their encounter with perfection.

Some encounters result in fear, some in anxiety and confusion, and others in joy. For every performer, the encounter is cleansing and cathartic—exactly what we wish for our audience tonight.”

Gerard Gauci’s simple, exquisite set adds to the beautiful esthetic. A screen suspended at the back over the stage projects a different image that conveys the change in the segment. Gauci’s stunning star-like design for the floor offers filmmaker Marcel Canzona beautiful over-head shots of dancers gracefully negotiating the space.

Both Marshall Pynkoski and Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg bring their fascination with the music, dance and theatre of the 17th and 18th centuries to the stage. Their productions look like exquisite paintings come to life. Zingg’s work as choreographer with her careful placement of the hands and arms of the dancers, make me look harder to appreciate this vocabulary that creates ballet.

Even the staging of their star singers: Colin Ainsworth, Mireille Asselin, Measha Brueggergosman, Christopher Enns, Danielle MacMillan and Cynthia Smithers, make them look as a piece with the dancers. There is no jarring movement that takes away from the grace of ‘the line’.

Tyler Gledhill is the contemporary choreographer for the evening and a dancer in Inception. There is a muscularity and sensitivity in his dance.

While this is a staged production that was filmed in Koerner Hall it does not look like a film. It does look like a beautiful theatrical production come to life through technology. Kudos to Michelle Ramsay for her shimmering lighting that illuminates every artist.

I started going to Opera Atelier productions years ago. It was a company I had heard of but was not familiar with at the time and thought I should open my horizons to other art forms. It’s been an exquisite (that word again) education, in art, dance, music, opera, singing, painting, sculpture and what perfection looks like. I don’t ever get the sense that co-artistic directors, Marshall Pynkoski and Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg ever user the word “compromise”. Their audiences are the better for it.  

Available for streaming until June 1, 2021.

Leave a Comment

Respectful comments are accepted on this site as long as they are accompanied by a verifiable name and a verifiable e-mail address. Posts that are slanderous, libelous or personally derogatory will not be approved.