|General & Artistic Director Tomer Zvulun|
This will be an incredible season that includes familiar, well-loved operas reimagined in new productions and featuring great performances by exciting up-and-coming stars. One of the highlights of the season for me is the Southeastern premiere of a modern American Opera by arguably, the most prominent living opera composers of our time: Jake Heggie.
The season opens this weekend with a delicious appetizer: an outstanding concert of chorus’ greatest hits, where we present the most popular chorus numbers from operas such as Carmen, Traviata and Porgy and Bess performed by the world-renowned Atlanta Opera chorus and led by Walter Huff. It is also a unique collaboration with three leading universities: Emory, Georgia State, and Kennesaw State.
Performances will take place on different campuses in town: Emory’s Schwartz Center on September 12th, 14th and the Bailey Performance Center September 16th at Kennesaw State. Soloists in the concert include popular local stars: Leah Partridge, Indra Thomas, and Tim Miller among others.
It is not an accident that the first performance I scheduled and planned as General Director celebrates the Atlanta Opera Chorus and Walter Huff’s 25th year with the company. I have worked with the chorus regularly over the past decade as a stage director. From the very first time I encountered this incredible group of musicians, I have admired their work and the passion that they bring to every rehearsal and performance. Their leader over the past quarter century, Walter Huff, is one of the most respected chorus masters in the country and this special concert is in his and their honor.
Verdi’s incredibly touching Rigoletto will be presented this winter in a co-production that premiered in Boston last year and features one of opera’s fastest rising stars – Nadine Sierra. Baritone Todd Thomas portrays the cursed hunchback; sonorous bass Morris Robinson will reprise his signature role of the murderer Sparafucile; and rising American tenor Scott Quinn
Maestro Joe Rescigno, a regular guest at our podium, will return to lead the Atlanta Opera Chorus and Orchestra. This brand new production, designed by NEA award winner John Conklin with opulent Renaissance costumes by Vita Tzykun and arresting lighting design by Robert Wierzel, was premiered to great critical and audience acclaim at the Boston Lyric Opera and will be seen in multiple other cities in the US.
Our spring production at the Cobb Energy Centre will feature Mozart’s profound masterpiece The Marriage of Figaro in a production that was widely applauded across the US and Canada. Designer Susan Benson’s elegant, lush costumes and gorgeous period sets, combined with Tara Faircloth’s stage direction will create a lovely, colorful evening in the theatre. Maestro Fagen will lead a dynamic cast, combined of up and coming young singers: Craig Colcough, Loren Snouffer, Katie Van Kooten and John Moore. They will join veteran performers Victoria Livengood and Bruno Pratico, who delighted Atlanta audiences in 2012-13’s The Italian Girl in Algiers.
This varied season reinvents the familiar by presenting well-known operas in fresh productions that focus on theatrical and visual effects. It features the up-and-coming opera stars of tomorrow and relies on the continuous leadership and musicianship of our maestros: chorus master Walter Huff leading our world renowned Chorus, and our beloved Music Director Arthur Fagen. At the same time, we establish our commitment to new exciting work, by leading living composers. Those programming choices are enhanced by our commitment to reach into the community and establish presence all over the city by collaborating with other arts organizations. In addition to our university partnerships this fall, Theatrical Outfit will feature our 24 Hour Project; we will celebrate our 2nd season collaboration with the Bremen Museum concert series; and of course our return to midtown with the Alliance Theatre.
I always think of an opera performance as the greatest miracle possible: orchestra, chorus, designers, directors, conductors, stage managers, stage hands and hundreds of other people working tirelessly to coordinate efforts and create a moving experience that will stir the audience’s hearts. There are so many things that can go wrong, yet when everything gels and the stars align, I can’t think of any art form that has a stronger impact on the audience’s soul. It is pure magic.
This upcoming season, planned with so much thought and passion, will be when all those efforts perfectly align to create that elusive magic that we are constantly chasing.
These are the evenings I live for. Come join us.