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Love and hate battle it out

The Elgin Theatre
10/22/2015 -  & October 24, 25, 27, 30, 31, 2015
Jean-Baptiste Lully: Armide
Peggy Kriha Dye (Armide), Colin Ainsworth (Renaud), Daniel Belcher (Aronte, La Haine), Stephen Hegedus (Hidraot), Carla Huhtanen (Phénice, Lucinde), Meghan Lindsay (Sidonie, Nymphe des eaux), Aaron Ferguson (Chevalier Danois), Olivier Laquerre (Artémidore, Chevalier Ubalde), Artists of Atelier Ballet
Tafelmusik Baroque Chamber Choir, Ivars Taurins (choir director), Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, David Fallis (conductor)
Marshall Pynkoski (director), Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg (choreographer), Gerard Gauci (set designer), Dora Rust D'Eye (costume designer), Bonnie Beecher (lighting designer), Jennifer Parr (fight director)

P. Kriha Dye, T. Gledhill (© Bruce Zinger)

What better way to launch Opera Atelier’s 30th season that a revival of Lully’s Armide, the opera-ballet that brilliantly personifies what the company is all about? It was reviewed here when it was presented in 2012. That same year the production travelled to Glimmerglass and the Royal Theatre in the Palace of Versailles, where it will once again be performed next month, with the current cast.

A full description of the work appears in the review referred to above. There are a few cast changes: Stephen Hegedus is an expressive, full-voiced Hidraot, King of Damascus, and Daniel Belcher does double duty as the warrior Aronte and La Haine, the very personification of hatred. Dancer Tyler Gledhill performs the winged figure of l’Amour.

The returning members of the cast are all in fine form, most especially Peggy Kriha Dye in the title role. It must be quite the taxing part, given the all-out vocal and physical expressiveness demanded by the company’s style of presentation. The role is that of an enchantress, but the fact that she is performing it six times in 10 days surely proves that she is also the consummate warrior maiden.

The Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra under David Fallis and its chamber choir are at their reliable best as well.

The company has been doing a good deal of outreach to schools and other institutions, such as having a display of Gerard Gauci’s designs (largely inspired by traditional Persian art) at Toronto’s latest major cultural centre, the Aga Khan Museum. Young people were a significant portion of the opening night audience; they were attentive and then noisily appreciative at the end. Truly a gala event!

Michael Johnson



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