Friday, February 24, 2012

Behind the Scenes of The Golden Ticket

By Ellen Sturgill

Mark your calendars! In a little over a week, The Atlanta Opera will be presenting one of the most fanciful operas it has ever produced.  The Golden Ticket opens on Saturday, March 3rd, and Atlanta audiences will be in for a treat – and we don’t just mean chocolate.

True to Roald Dahl’s classic children’s story Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the opera centers on the antics of four bratty children, one sweet child, and a zany confectioner.  Since its publication in 1964, this classic story has withstood the test of time –  inspiring two movies, enchanting both scholars and children alike, and garnering a devoted, if not fanatical, following. In the newest installment of Wonka-lore, The Golden Ticket combines one of the most fantastical plots in literature with the stunning art form of opera.

You may be wondering how it could be possible to translate a story as complex as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory into an opera.  Therefore, for this week’s blog, we thought we’d give our readers a sneak peek into how this happens. The rehearsal photos, sketches, and behind-the-scenes interviews below will show you what to expect at the premiere Saturday, March 3rd at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. Enjoy!



© Cherokee Rose Productions


The characters of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are iconic, but this opera takes a different spin on some of the characters: four of the roles include adult opera singers portraying children. Having Augustus Gloop, Violet Beauregard, Mike Teevee, and Veruca Salt performed by adults gives them a larger-than-life quality, and creates a dramatic distinction between the one good child in the opera.  Charlie Bucket will be sung by boy sopranos Benjamin P.Wenzelberg and Ruben Roy, and their pure, clear voices add to the honesty of Charlie's character.

Of course, one cannot think of Road Dahl's classic without including the fantastic, the magnificent, the incredible... Willy Wonka.  Reprising this role from the world-premiere of The Golden Ticket in 2010 with the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is bass-baritone Daniel Okulitch.  In his Atlanta Opera debut, Daniel's Willy Wonka is zany, yet with a timbre as rich as Wonka's famous chocolate.

Pictured below is the cast and creative team of The Golden Ticket, as well as rehearsal photos.


Willy Wonka (Daniel Okulitch), and Charlie Bucket (Bejamin P. Wenzelberg). © Jeff Roffman
Boy soprano Ruben Roy sings as Charlie Bucket, with Willy Wonka (Daniel Okulitch) observing. © Jeff Roffman 
Composer Peter Ash instructs Daniel Okulitch in a rehearsal.  © Jeff Roffman
Willy Wonka (Daniel Okulitch) is confronted by a very demanding Veruca Salt, sung by soprano Abigail Nims. © Jeff Roffman
Things aren't looking good for Violet Beauregard (Ashley Emerson). © Charles Wenzelberg
From far left to right, Jason Hardy, Benjamin P. Wenzelberg, Abigail Nims, Gerald Thompson, Jamie Barton, and Keith Jameson react to Violet Beauregard's unfortunate mishap. © Charles Wenzelberg
Stage Director Michael Shell observes a rehearsal.  © Charles Wenzelberg
Countertenor Gerald Thompson rehearses the role of Mike Teavee. © Charles Wenzelberg
Looks like trouble between Violet Beauregard (Ashley Emerson), and Veruca Salt (Abigail Nims). © Charles Wenzelberg
Though the process took years, composer Peter Ash and librettist Donald Sturrock created an opera that evokes the enchanting world of Willy Wonka.  Check out this interview with Peter and Donald to get the inside scoop on how The Golden Ticket came to be.


© Cherokee Rose Productions

Bringing Roald Dahl's characters to life also involves creative costumes.  Shown below are some original costume sketches designed for Opera Theatre of St. Louis.
















This opera is sure to delight audiences of all ages.  Take a look at the video below for reviews of its world-premiere.  If you haven’t already purchased your tickets, there is still time!  Visit our webpage for more information, or call The Atlanta Opera Ticket Office at 4043.881.8885 to get your ticket for this extraordinary opera




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