- Paris and Helen -


Gluck: Paride ed Elena




Essential Opera celebrates the start of its 5th season – and Christoph Willibald Gluck’s 300th anniversary – with a passionate masterpiece, Paride ed Elena (Paris and Helen). An epic love story that has echoed through both art and history for millenia, Paride ed Elena combines human emotions with the whims and machinations of gods and goddesses.

Featuring a powerful cast of brilliant women singers, music director Vicki St. Pierre, and pianist Wesley Shen, Essential Opera’s Paride ed Elena promises a night of beautiful, rarely-heard music.

Saturday, September 27, 2014, 8:00 p.m.
Trinity St. Paul’s Centre, Toronto
Sung in Italian, with English translation

Wednesday, October 1, 2014, 7:30 p.m.
The Registry Theatre, Kitchener
Sung in Italian, with English translation

Pre-concert chats 20 minutes before curtain at both performances, with Dr. Sheila Ager of the University of Waterloo’s Classic department.

Creative Team

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Krisztina Szabo


Ms. Szabó exemplifies today’s modern singer: she is vocally versatile, possesses excellent stage prowess and paints vivid character portraits on both the opera and concert stages. She sings frequently at the Canadian Opera Company in diverse roles such as Idamante (Idomeneo), Musetta (La bohème), and The Pilgrim (Saariaho’s Love from Afar). This season’s performances include appearances with Tapestry New Opera, Music of the Baroque (Chicago), Early Music Vancouver, Calgary Opera, Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Vancouver Bach Choir. She will sing the role of The Woman in Erwartung with the COC in May 2015.

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Erin Bardua


Erin’s operatic roles have included included Nannetta (Falstaff), Antonia and Giulietta (Les contes d’Hoffmann), Pamina (Die Zauberflöte) and Donna Anna (Don Giovanni) as well as numerous roles with Essential Opera. As a concert soloist, Erin has performed with the Talisker Players, Nota Bene Baroque Players,
Pax Christi Chorale, the Toronto Sinfonietta, the Oshawa-Durham Chorus, the Arcady Baroque Ensemble, the St. James Cathedral Choir, Capella Intima and the Menno Singers, among others. Her oratorio repertoire includes Handel’s Messiah, Esther and Judas Maccabaeus, Zelenka’s Missa Omnium Sanctorum, Beethoven’s Mass in C Major, Vaughan Williams’ Hodie, Haydn’s Creation, Mozart’s Requiem and Vesperae solennes de confessore, Bach’s Magnificat and Passions, Saint-Säens’ Christmas Oratorio, and Vivaldi’s Gloria.
Erin is represented by Knowles Artists.

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Maureen Batt


Maureen Batt, a “young, lovely and captivating soprano,” (Opera Canada) is an accomplished concert and opera artist. She is equally at home in opera, oratorio, cabaret, musical theatre, art song, and contemporary music. She has been engaged by the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, Opera in Concert, Toronto Operetta Theatre, Maritime Concert Opera, Toy Piano Composers, New Hamburg Live!, Open Ears Festival. Past roles include Belinda (Dido and Aeneas), Zerlina (Don Giovanni), Jenny (La Dame Blanche), Papagena (Die Zauberflöte), Eusebia (Die Freunde von Salamanka). Selected roles with Essential Opera include Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi), Silvia (L’isola disabitata), Polly (Die Dreigroschenoper), Nina (Chérubin), and Morgana (Alcina).

Following Paris and Helen, Maureen will perform the role of Iride in Gluck’s La Caduta de’ Giganti in Macomb, Illinois. In 2015, she will perform Monica Pearce’s short opera Aunt Helen with Opera Nova Scotia, as well as Pergolesi’s La Serva Padrona.


Julie Ludwig

Soprano/Trojan Messenger

Julie Ludwig is a versatile young performer who has garnered praise for her interpretations of soubrette and lyric coloratura repertoire. Last season, Julie joined Calgary Opera’s prestigious Emerging Artist Development Program. With Calgary Opera, she performed Lucia in The Rape of Lucretia and covered Elvira in L’italiana in Algeri. Additionally, Julie performed Gretel in an English adaptation of Hansel and Gretel with Calgary Opera’s Opera in Schools tour. She appeared with the Calgary Civic Symphony as the soprano soloist in Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem and in concert with Calgary’s Festival Chorus and Orchestra. Other performance highlights include Despina (Cosi fan tutte) in Jeunesses Musicales du Canada’s East Coast touring production, Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro) at the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy, Laurie (The Tender Land) with Toronto’s Summer Opera Lyric Theatre, and Zerlina (Don Giovanni) with UWO Opera and the Halifax Summer Opera Workshop. She made her UK debut in 2011 as Emmie in Albert Herring, conducted by Steuart Bedford at the Aldeburgh Music Festival. Julie is delighted to be joining Essential Opera again, having last performed with them as Oberto in Alcina. www.julieludwig.com

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Emily Klassen


Klassen is quickly gaining attention for her clear, expressive singing and intelligent interpretation of 17th & 18th Century music. 2014 performance highlights include the role of Dafne in Marco da Gagliano’s “Dafne” in a joint production with Capella Intima and the Toronto Continuo Collective; the role of Adina in Donizetti’s “L’elisir d’amore” with Pellegrini Opera in Ottawa and the role of Dafne in Cavalli’s “Gli amori d’Apollo e di Dafne” with the Venice Opera Project in Venice, Italy. With the generous assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts, Emily participated in the Accademia Europea Dell’Opera (AEDO) in Amsterdam where she performed the roles of Amor and Minerva in Monteverdi’s “Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria” under the baton of Gary Thor Wedow. Emily’s other love – acting has led to TV appearances on the Lifetime Network series “Angela’s Eyes,” the CTV series “Flashpoint,” and the CBC series, “Murdoch Mysteries.” Emily gained international attention for her performance on the critically acclaimed NBC series “Hannibal” where she performed an excerpt from Handel’s “Piangerò la sorte mia.”

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Dr. Vicki St. Pierre

Music Director

Conductor and contralto Vicki St. Pierre’s engagements this season include Nutrice in the Academy of Ancient Music’s production of L’incoronazione di Poppea at the Barbican in London, the Sorceress in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas with Les Violons du Roy at Carnegie Hall, Messiah with Orchestra London, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater with 13 Strings, and Splendors of the Emperor’s Chapel with The Toronto Consort. Dr. St. Pierre is Director of Music at the Cathedral Church of St. James in Toronto and conducts London Pro Musica, an auditioned community choir in London, Ontario. She has been an assistant conductor with Opera Atelier, and is the music director for the New Hamburg Live! Festival of the Arts. She teaches voice at Wilfrid Laurier University, is a lecturer at the Royal Conservatory of Music, and was most recently on faculty at the Centre for Opera Studies In Sulmona, Italy. She recently completed her doctoral studies in performance at the University of Toronto under the tutelage of Dr. Darryl Edwards.

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Wesley Shen

Associate Music Director & Pianist

Wesley Shen is a dynamic and versatile pianist and harpsichordist working and residing in Toronto. He is a sought after solo artist as well as a collaborator in both chamber and orchestral settings. With a strong passion for contemporary music, he is seen performing as a regular member of the Toy Piano Composers Ensemble, the Blue Moss Ensemble, as well as pianist and music director of the Bicycle Opera Project. Recent appearances also include performances with the Glenn Gould School New Music Ensemble, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and New Music Concerts. His alter ego can be found continuing studies in Baroque period performance on harpsichord, working with Charlotte Nediger, Ivars Taurins, and other members of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra. He is also seeking new ways of combining these two interests and helping to restore the harpsichord as an expressive medium within contemporary music.