The Myth of Europa: the classic myth retold

The greatest of the gods takes the form of a white bull. His objective: to seduce a beautiful mortal. One of the most powerful myths of the classical world, Europa and her encounter with Zeus  is at once earthy, tragic and celestial, a story that has inspired artists for thousands of years.Europa-FI

To conclude our tenth season, Toronto Masque Theatre will present the staging of two major works of musical theatre that explore this fascinating myth from very different perspectives:

The exquisite Baroque cantata Europe by Michel Pignolet de Montéclair (1667-1737), a poignant work that focuses on beauty and optimism;

A new work – Europa and the White Bull – by acclaimed composer James Rolfe and celebrated poet/novelist Steven Heighton, uncovering the darker themes of the myth, including ideas of power, sexuality and ethics.

In an evening of masque stripped down to its bare essentials, with a single singer, dancer and actor, both pieces will feature celebrated soprano Suzie LeBlanc, dancer Stéphanie Brochard and actor Martin Julien. Choreography and direction will be by Marie-Nathalie Lacoursière, with arresting stage design by Angela Thomas and lighting by Gabriel Cropley.

The evening will be rounded out by excerpts of poetry and prose that delve into the themes of the myth and will provide audiences with a rich presentation of a complex and troubling story. What will emerge is a beautiful, timeless and multi-layered portrait of one of Greek mythology’s most fascinating women.

Artistic Director, Larry Beckwith will lead a baroque ensemble featuring Kathleen Kajioka, baroque violins; Roseen Giles, baroque flute; Justin Haynes, viola da gamba; Sylvain Bergeron, lute; Christopher Bagan, harpsichord and organ.

More about the myth

Zeus, the greatest of all the gods, finds himself enraptured by the beautiful mortal Europa. In order to seduce her, he transforms into a tame, white bull and encourages the young woman to climb onto his back before taking her on a terrifying journey into the sea. Her seduction and later abandonment by the king of the gods has inspired artists throughout the centuries.  Her name – and by extension her legend – lives on through the naming of a continent and one of the moons of Jupiter (which, in turn, is the Latin name for Zeus).


Fri 25 and Sat 26, April. Both performances at 8 pm. A pre-show chat with Artistic Director Larry Beckwith and guests will be held 45 minutes before each performance.


Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, 427 Bloor St. W., Toronto.


Tickets: $45; $40 (over 65 years) and $20 (under 30 years) available from Toronto Masque Theatre website or by phoning 416 410 4561.

About Toronto Masque Theatre

Toronto Masque Theatre was founded by Artistic Director Larry Beckwith in 2003 and immediately became a significant player in the City of Toronto’s arts scene. Taking its inspiration from the rich, courtly masque tradition of the late Renaissance, the company celebrates and reinvents the classic masque form for contemporary audiences. Through a blending of the music, dance and drama the company offers clever, intimate, and entertaining productions that are both historically informed and daringly modern.

In ten season, the company has produced close to thirty critically-acclaimed multi-disciplinary productions, ranging in repertoire from the late Renaissance to the modern day. They have commissioned six new works, two from James Rolfe and one each from Omar Daniel, Abigail Richardson, Dean Burry and Alice Ping Yee Ho, as well as presenting music theatre works by Monteverdi, Purcell, Handel, Stravinsky and John Beckwith, plays by Edna St. Vincent Millay, James Reaney, Patrick Garland, and Moliere and “variety” evenings including Commedia, Tears of a Clown, and Masque of the Muses.

Toronto Masque Theatre has appeared at the Guelph Spring Festival, Festival of the Sound, Music at Sharon and the Elora Festival, and has been heard on CBC Radio.

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Toronto Masque Theatre is supported by Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, and Ontario Trillium Foundation.