Why they are staying on their toes for one another
As they prepare for a huge show in France, Opera Atelier’s Marshall Pynkoski and Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg share the secret of their life together
Depending on how open-minded you are, being told you and your girlfriend will be an internationally famous phenomenon by a horoscope reader could sound phony or it could be music to your ears. For Opera Atelier’s two co–artistic directors, Marshall Pynkoski and Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg, their random encounter with a gifted lady proved to be their best omen, as today the couple share a happy marriage — not to mention the enviable, jetsetting lives of two of the world’s most renowned opera and ballet visionaries. But don’t think this a clichéd encounter fit for a corny movie script. In fact, this pair started out the same way many couples do: as simple friends who just happened to love the same thing. Here, Jeannette shares their story.
How they met
We met in the ballet classes of Florentina Lojekova. We were both very tall for our ages and were often partnered together for pas de deux classes. We also tended to arrive early for our classes, so we had a chance to chat while warming up and stretching. We soon realized that we had many interests in common and would share our homes and dreams for a future in the world of professional theatre.
Their first date
Our first date was, of course, a trip to the ballet. We had been given tickets to see The Nutcracker. We enjoyed each other’s company and the ballet tremendously and began attending dance and music events together whenever we could. We were very intent upon becoming artists and regarded each other as friends.
Our courtship began in our final year of ballet training when we were already working as freelance professionals whenever possible. The process of realizing that we were soul mates grew naturally out of friendship. Our memorable moment was when we were stopped in a café by a lovely lady who wanted to read us our horoscopes. We politely refused, and she said “Well that is all right, but I must tell you that you are going to do something together, that [you] will [both] succeed internationally, because it
“Our first date was, of course, a trip to the ballet.”
will not be only about you, but about something bigger.” We have never forgotten that experience.
We were on our way home from an evening with friends — Marshall often dropped me home after a date — and Marshall suddenly proposed. I was completely taken by surprise as marriage had seemed like something that would happen sometime in the future. I did know, however, that Marshall was the one and accepted without any hesitation.
We were married in Toronto in 1985. We went for a weekend to Manhattan to see the New York City Ballet and attend exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and at the Frick.
Their lives now
Our work is our shared interest, along with avid reading and travel. High points in our relationship have been our trips with our company to perform at the Theatre Royal, Chateau de Versailles and at the Salzburg Festival. We were extremely well received in both places and really felt that we were becoming part of the history of these famous venues. Catch Opera Atelier’s Persée in Versailles, France from May 23 to 25.
Opera Atelier is famous for its riveting ballet and opera-style productions