Opera Atelier's Idomeneo


Director and Co-Artistic Director, Opera Atelier: Marshall Pynkoski

Dancers: Artists of Atelier Ballet

Opera Atelier

Ed Mirvish Theatre, Toronto

April 4-13 2019

Reviewed by Ted Fox

Begins with Neptune (Douglas Williams. Bass-Baritone) standing holding his trident and orchestrating a violent storm destined to leave Idomeneo (Colin Ainsworth) and his crew shipwrecked on the shores of Crete. He is the only survivor. Neptune has him vow to sacrifice the first person he meets. Wouldn't you know, that person turns out to be his son.

Idamante (Wallis Giunta, Mezzo Soprano) is in love with Ilia (Meghan Lindsay, Soprano). She loves him even though he is a Greek. Elettra (Measha Brueggergosman, Soprano), daughter of Agamenon and Clylestemnestra) also loves Idamante. Sigh.

Giunta as Idamante has a slim build with a physical presence that belies her stature. She leaps, falls and seems constantly on the move. Her colourful vocalizations and radiant voice are a joy to hear as she expresses her love and she takes on a role originally sung by a castrati.

Elettra is not featured that much throughout but when on she is a force of nature. Her face and singing are expressive of her anguish, clashing with the shades of angry jealousy flickering on her face and energizing her song. She excels near the end with her vocals rife with all these emotions battling within. Clutching a knife, she wields it as she frantically scurries back and forth across the stage. Since this takes place in front of a scrim cutting her off and isolating her frustration and loneliness it is really felt.

The dancers of the Atelier Ballet are a strong feature in this production. The choreography is by Jeanette Lajeunesse Zing and beautifully integrates the dancers into the show as minor characters. In the festive celebration at the end they radiate rebirth, twirling and moving in and out as if blown by a spring breeze. The colours of their dresses are a mix of pinks blues and greens.

There is subtle humor embedded in this presentation. In the tsunami flashbacks Neptune has a campy presence, standing with a bared chest and wearing tights, his muscular build looking like an incredible hunk. That Idamente can battle and conquer (offstage) a sea monster brings cartoon images to my mind. And her endless longing for Ilia combines humor and sadness in a touching way.

A highly entertaining production beautifully sung.