ATELIER’S ORPHEUS by Stanley Fefferman

Sunday, April 29, 2007
Elgin Theatre, Toronto

Think of Dresden porcelain figures animated by Disney Studios: a storyboard of cameos that comes alive with singers and dancers who are all young and beautiful and filled with glorious music.

Voilá, the Paris 1774 vintage of “Orpheus and Eurydice” as imagined by Marshall Pynkowski and Jeanette Zingg, uncorked to the incomparable sounds of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choirs’ performance of the tunes of C.W. Gluck. Intoxicating!

You might ask why anyone today would expect to find pleasure looking through a window at an entertainment suited to the taste of Marie Antoinette, set where nubile nymphs and shepherds dance without a care in gossamer attire, where deities and demons toy with a pair of lovers who twice return from death by the powers of music and love.

The window of Gluck’s opera opens onto the Orphic world where Art is shown in a dynamic marriage with Nature. Here, extremes resolve in harmonic balance. Here are displayed beauties that inspire love to cancel loss. On this stage that proclaims “L’Amour Triumphe”, the agonies and ecstasies of passion effervesce into an air of cheerfulness that the audience takes in at every breath.

Each element of this most romantic of stories is meticulously poised in classical balance. Jeannette Zingg’s choreography and Gerard Gauci’s set are all about geometrical order, but order that flows softly in the gentle, bright colours of Margaret Lamb’s costumes.

Orpheus is Colin Ainsworth, Prince Charming with a golden voice that ranges pure and effortless beyond high C’s. Peggy Kriha Dye is Eurydice. She is made to appear and fade teasingly like an apparition in the background until she enters singing “Joy inhabits”, her voice rich and flowing like birdsong above the leafy rustle of the choir.

Jennie Such is Amor, the god of love dressed like a pageboy, descending and rising in a cloud chariot, clear-voiced, all gaiety and unceasingly cheerful, making it known that all the intensities of human love are, in the balance, really not so serious.

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