Comment: The Resurrection

by Lynn on May 29, 2021

in The Passionate Playgoer

Filmed in the Ballroom of St. Lawrence Hall.

By George Frideric Handel

Libretto by Carlo Sigismondo Capece

Conducted by David Fallis

Directed by Marshall Pynkoski

Choreography by Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg

Set and art director, Gerard Gauci

Film director and editor, Marcel Canzona

Audio production by Matthew Antal

Head of wardrobe/designer, Michael Legouffe

Cast: Colin Ainsworth

Carla Huhtanen

Meghan Lindsay

Allyson McHardy

Douglas Williams

Plus the artists of Atelier Ballet

And the musicians of Tafelmusik

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

The debut of The Resurrection, (La Resurrezione) Handel’s liturgical opera in Rome in 1708, and Opera Atelier’s debut of the film this past week in 2021 are echoes of each other.

In 1708 in Rome, due to papal restrictions during Lent, Handel was forced to move his production to Palazzo Ruspoli in the main hall (the Marchese Ruspoli was Handel’s patron).

In 2021 in Toronto, due to COVID-19 restrictions, Opera Atelier was forced to move their production of The Resurrection out of the theatre and into the ballroom of St. Lawrence Hall and film it following safety protocols.   

The Story. The story takes place between Good Friday when Christ was crucified and Easter Sunday, the Resurrection of Christ. It is the story of good vs evil, faith vs despair. Lucifer (Douglas Williams) rages that he fell from heaven to hell and takes credit for Christ’s death. He is challenged by an Angel (Carla Huhtanen) who is as determined as Lucifer to thwart his intention to spread havoc on earth. In the meantime Mary Magdalene (Meghan Linsday)  and Cleophas (Allyson McHardy), who both loved Christ, lament and mourn his death, until St. John the Evangelist (Colin Ainsworth) announces that Christ will rise again in three days.

The Production. As always with an Opera Atelier production, The Resurrection shimmers with elegance, detail, artistry and beauty.  Director Marshall Pynkoski, choreographer, Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg and their design team have created the scope of the world of Handel’s opera with the simplest of furnishings. Gerard Gauci has created a stair formation with an imposing gold bird on the front to provide a place of power for both the Angel and Lucifer. A sumptuous curtain of folds covers the tomb where Christ lay—St. John touches it delicately in reverence. Light illuminates the space both subtly and obviously. In many scenes we can see the hazy light beaming head on and in other scenes the illumination is from the sides.

A quibble is that while watching this digitally, the lighting is a bit too dark in some moments to make out what is actually happening, but these moments are few—still it is the difference between being ‘in the room’ with the production, and watching it electronically.  

In a nod to the safety precautions the dancers stream on in billowing white gowns for the women, white tights for the men and all of them wear matching facemasks in white. Later to suggest the joy and celebration of Christ’s resurrection the dancers wave huge swaths of powder blue billowing material again, wearing facemasks in the same blue.  

Even if a viewer is not familiar with the ballet of the period, choreographer, Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg makes one note the stance, arm placement and formality of the dancing.

Marcel Canzona’s filming of the event captures the sweep, grandeur and emotion of the piece. There are wonderful aerial shots of the ensemble as well as filming them face on. It was interesting to note that Lucifer was filmed often from below so that he looked more imposing and dangerous.

Comment. A detailed program of information is available on line, as is the libretto and the translation. Opera Atelier thinks of everything to give the viewing audience the best experience. Marshall Pynkoski and Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg, co-artistic directors of Opera Atelier, have the guts of a bandit. They have seen COVID-19 dash their plans for a dazzling celebration of their 35th season, 2020-21. Instead of doing two operas they adapted and created a varied program entitled Something Rich & Strange (available for streaming until June 10, details at When they were ready to take The Resurrection into Koerner Hall for rehearsals, they lost the theatre because of COVID-19 restriction. Again, they adapted and filmed the production. Their drive, tenacity and determination to bring art and beauty to their growing audiences is impressive—the guts of a bandit.

The Resurrection is available for viewing until June 10.

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