Opera Atelier in Versailles

Jake Rennie as Armour and Peggy Kriha Dye as Armide
Opera Atelier 2012, Photo by Bruce Zinger 2012
Soprano Peggy Kriha Dye said she felt a little bit like Cinderella after her triumphant performance as Armide in the Opera Atelier's production of Lully's Armide in Versailles, France on Friday night. Dressed in a lush, long red velvet gown by Magpie Design for the after-party, she told me that she was moved by the standing ovation and repeated curtain calls demanded by the audience. She also said she was glad that she hadn't known in advance that Armide has never been performed in Versailles before. Her performance set a standard that will be hard to follow, as did all the members of this Toronto-based troupe, who performed as if their lives depended on it.

Words can hardly describe the beauty and majesty of watching the talented group of artists of Opera Atelier perform in Versailles. Led by Marshall Pynkowski and Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg, Opera Atelier incorporates ballet and performance into the opera. The performers do not simply stand on stage and belt out libretto. They act, they emote, and they move across exquisite stage sets designed by Gerard Gauci. Unfazed by the challenges of performing in a royal venue, not to mention jet lag and different voltages, Opera Atelier has already been asked to return to Versailles in 2014.

Going to Versailles to see a performance is an event in and of itself. Tiptoeing across cobblestones in my high heels wearing a slim fitting Prada sheath dress, I was glad at least that I did not have to wear a pannier or a train. It was an evening I'll never forget.

After today's matinee performance, Opera Atelier will return to Toronto for a rest before heading down to the Glimmerglass Festival in New York where they will perform Armide for a summer run. If you have a chance to see them perform in Glimmerglass, don't hesitate to buy a ticket, as this is opera as it was meant to be - rich, lush, and enchanting.

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