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Dancer Eric César de Mello da Silva reveals his tender side in Atelier Opera’s All Is Love

Eric César de Mello da Silva
Eric César de Mello da Silva is Eros kneeling above soprano Meghan Lindsay's Mélisande in Atelier Opera's All Is Love. Photo by Bruce Zinger.

There’s a reason why Brazilian-born Eric César de Mello da Silva loves to dance with Opera Atelier.

“Because it’s a smaller company, it truly, truly feels like a family,” César de Mello da Silva tells the Toronto Spark by phone. “We can be open, sincere, and honest with our emotions—and we do have the support.”

The Toronto company has garnered a global reputation for revitalizing Baroque-era works with its historically informed opera and ballet interpretations. Opera Atelier’s productions are performed in partnership with the internationally acclaimed period-instrument orchestra Tafelmusik.

César de Mello da Silva has danced in Opera Atelier’s Dido and Aeneas (2016 and 2023), Medée (2017), Angel (2021), All Is Love (2022), and Resurrection (2023). He is back this month in a new version of All Is Love. In this role, he’s thrilled to embody love in its many manifestations.

“It’s pretty cool, as well, to have the red wings on me while dancing,” César de Mello da Silva says with a chuckle. “Even though I have two wings, I don’t feel restrained to dance. I feel a very relaxed energy.”

All Is Love features a mix of Henry Purcell and Reynaldo Hahn compositions. Pianist and historical keyboardist Christopher Bagan selected them specifically for legendary Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman-Lee. In addition, the production includes baroque compositions by Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Claude Debussy, George Frideric Handel, Matthew Locke, and Jean-Philippe Rameau.

César story. Measha Brueggergosman-Lee
Soprano Measha Brueggergosman-Lee takes centre-stage in All Is Love. Photo by Bruce Zinger.

César de Mello da Silva likes exercising

César de Mello da Silva’s ripped torso appears prominently in the poster for All Is Love. The image offers proof that baroque opera retains its sex appeal into the 21st century.

“One of the things I like about being a dancer is we build our muscles in this aesthetic way from a young age,” he says.

He began dancing at the age of 12 in Rio de Janeiro. And it only occurred by fluke. He happened to have a childhood friend who was studying ballet after school. He would wait outside so that they could walk home together because they lived in the same building.

One day, her teacher invited César de Mello da Silva into the class because she needed some boys for an upcoming end-of-the-year performance.

“She talked with my parents, and then I started taking classes.”

After a few months, the private school recommended César de Mello da Silva for a government-owned ballet school. There, he studied dance, dance history, and music full-time. Later, he auditioned and was accepted for a scholarship in San Francisco, where he lived from 2013 to 2015. From there, César de Mello da Silva moved to Canada.

One of his major mentors was principal ballet master Lindsay Fischer, who directed him at the National Ballet of Canada.

“He really opened another door on my dancing,” César de Mello da Silva recalls.

César de Mello da Silva
Eric César de Mello da Silva began lifting weights in 2019. Photo by Bruce Zinger.

Dancer lifts weights but avoids cardio

He didn’t begin seriously working out until 2019 when he was with the Royal Danish Ballet in Copenhagen. César de Mello da Silva reveals that he isn’t the type of dancer who is easily injured. However, through weight training, his body now has more endurance and better articulation. In addition, he is better prepared for dancing duets.

“I don’t do much cardio,” César de Mello da Silva admits. “I burn calories in a blink of an eye. So, if I do cardio, I am going to get leaner and leaner.”

He also pays attention to proper nutrition. And he allows sufficient time for his muscles to heal after exercising.

Meanwhile, All Is Love’s creative team includes conductor David Fallis, stage director Marshall Pynkoski, and choreographer Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg. Pynkoski and Lajeunesse Zingg are co-artistic directors of Opera Atelier. Gerard Gauci is the resident set designer and Kimberly Purtell is the lighting designer.

César de Mello da Silva’s wings, along with all other wardrobe and costume elements, are overseen by Michael Legouffe. Tyler Gledhill is the solo contemporary choreographer for “Inception”, which was written by Puslinch, Ontario-born baroque violinist Edwin Huizinga.

“We have a few changes in the choreography,” César de Mello da Silva says. “So, it’s going to be a little bit different from the previous show. But everyone is so excited.”

Watch a trailer for Atelier Opera’s All Is Love.

Opera Atelier will present All Is Love from April 11 to 14 at Koerner Hall at the TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning (273 Bloor Street West). For tickets and more information visit RCMusic.com. Learn more about the communities that make up Canada on the Toronto Spark website.

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Charlie Smith

Charlie Smith

Toronto Spark editor Charlie Smith has worked as a journalist in print, radio, and television for more than three decades.

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