La Scala!


Jeannette and I are eating, drinking and sleeping nothing but Mozart’s Lucio Silla from morning to night as we prepare for the production’s debut at La Scala.

French conductor Marc Minkowski (who is also artistic Director of the Mozarteum in Salzburg) has been responsible for a number of wonderful professional opportunities for Jeannette and me over the years – but in inviting us to direct and choreograph Mozart’s Lucio Silla in 2013, he out did himself. Jeannette and I were barely aware of the opera’s existence and it was Marc’s inspired insistence that it was indeed a masterpiece that led … Read more

The Story of Alcina



The sorceress Alcina inhabits a world made up of the souls of her past lovers. Her kingdom is in reality a desert – a lifeless place of no moral compass into which she lures her unsuspecting victims. As the opera opens, the warrior knight Ruggiero has fallen under her spell.


Act 1

Bradamante (Ruggiero’s fiancé) arrives on Alcina’s island with Ruggiero’s former tutor, Melisso. Bradamate has disguised herself as her brother Ricciardo in order to infiltrate Alcina’s kingdom. She and Melisso possess a magic ring, which enables the wearer to see through the mirage of Alcina’s kingdom. With … Read more

Director’s Notes

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“A short phrase concisely spoken and full of meaning pierces the brain like a surgeon’s lancet.”
                                   – Jean Cocteau

Ever since Opera Atelier’s inception, friends and colleagues have asked when we planned to produce a major Handel opera. As the years have passed, people have become somewhat incredulous that we have failed to mount an opera by a composer whose name is so closely associated with the baroque world. There were a number of reasons for our hesitation to commit to Handel, but the quality of his music was certainly not among them. Handel’s incomparable sense of melody and … Read more

Choreographer’s Notes

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Alcina, first performed in London (1735), contains some of Handel’s most ravishing music, expressly composed for the extensive ballet sections. His choreographic muse for this opera was the remarkable dancer/choreographer, Marie Sallé. Dancing masters who were commissioned to choreograph operas usually were also engaged to dance in these pieces – this is not in itself unusual. Marie Sallé was unique in her day as a woman undertaking these roles and she was also extremely innovative in her creative output, stressing expression over virtuosity! She was a star in both London and Paris, and appeared several times in Versailles. She … Read more

Set Designer’s Notes

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The sorceress Alcina has been floating around the Opera Atelier office for a long time now.

Marshall and I have talked for years about producing Handel’s “magic opera” and each time we approached it we stepped back, unsure of how to tackle the scenic transformations so necessary to the telling of this story based on Ariosto’s great Crusades-inspired poem “Orlando Furioso”. It was only after a chance viewing of a brilliant ballet film by Toronto’s Krystal Levy Pictures that we began to think about the possibilities of video projection and our doubts about producing this opera vanished.

I … Read more