I first encountered Lully’s Persée while Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg and I were teaching at the Centre de Music Baroque de Versailles, under the direction of Conductor Marc Minkowski. While choosing repertoire for our company of young singers, Maestro Minkowski had the inspired idea of introducing me to Act III of Lully’s Persée — the Medusa Scene — in the hope that I might find it stageable. I gladly accepted the challenge, expecting the scene in question to be highly dramatic, violent — even terrifying.
Imagine my shock and eventual delight, when I realized the Medusa scene was comic — hilariously … Read more
The Baroque era saw the real flowering of dancing, both social and theatrical, because Louis XIV of France was a talented dancer himself and the greatest patron of this art in history. By his orders, an Academy of Music and Dance was established during the 1660s. The techniques taught at the school were drawn from two sources. The first was the “noble” style, which had evolved in the ballroom as a highly developed form seriously studied on a daily basis by aristocratic society. The second basis for Baroque dance technique was the acrobatic style of the fairground tumblers who … Read more
In 1682, long before the construction of a permanent theatre at Versailles, composer Jean-Baptiste Lully, librettist Philippe Quinault and designer Jean Bérain mounted Persée on the stage of the Palais-Royale in Paris. Its success was so great and its position in the repertoire so assured that in 1770 almost 100 years later it was chosen as the entertainment celebrating the inauguration of the newly built Opéra Royal and the marriage of the future Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette .
No doubt a great part of its original success was due to Jean Bérain, the King’s chosen designer and guiding … Read more
This past week at the Elgin, we had the pleasure of once again offering our Making of an Opera workshops to high school students across the GTA. Twice a year, in the week before rehearsals begin for our upcoming production, the Opera Atelier core creative team along with some special guests set up at the Elgin Theatre. We welcome a different set of students each day and work with them over the course of six sessions to show them the different aspects of producing an opera.
Marshall starts the day off by talking to the students about the history … Read more
Thank you to everyone who came out for a fantastic Family Day performance of Dance Through Time last week! It is always a pleasure to show off our students’ skills. We were treated to excerpts from the Renaissance right up to the 19th century, and some very interesting educational commentary by OA Co-Artistic Director Marshall Pynkoski.