Monday, March 10, 2014

Four more from Faust

This season, The Atlanta Opera celebrates Chorus Master Walter Huff’s 25th anniversary with the company. The opera chorus for the production of Charles Gounod’s Faust features 46 local singers, carefully selected and rehearsed by Maestro Huff.

For today’s post, we’ve asked four veteran members of our chorus to share their favorite Atlanta Opera memories.

Josh Borden, during
Il Trovatore
Baritone Josh Borden made his Atlanta Opera debut in our 1994 production of Bellini’s Norma and has appeared in 43 operas since. He remembers his first rehearsal with the company, "I was in awe of those around me, wondering how I got to be so fortunate as to sing with the chorus.” Mezzo-soprano Lenna Turner shares his sentiment. “I literally thought I would pass out at each rehearsal. The first time I ever saw the Atlanta Opera Chorus perform [Mozart’s Requiem] I thought, 'Oh my God! I have to do that. It was the most beautiful sound. And now to be in the middle of that sound as a chorus member…it still seems surreal.”
John Young, tenor
For many singers, performing in our chorus remains a constant even as their personal and professional lives develop. Tenor John Young began his Atlanta Opera career in 1991 and says he’s been in too many productions to count. “When I first became a part of the chorus I was one of the youngest people. Twenty-three years later and all of a sudden I'm one of the ‘seasoned’ singers! It's amazing to be part of an organization for such a long period of time. I've seen many changes and lots of growth. I’ve performed with The Atlanta Opera at Symphony Hall, the Fox Theater, Civic Center, and now CEPAC. Being a part of the organization as a young singer provides an immeasurable amount of experience and knowledge needed to be successful.”

Twenty years after his company debut, Josh Borden remains in awe. He recalls just a few of his favorite memories as a chorister, including a performance at the 1996 Olympic Games. He says there have been quite a few unusual moments, such as “when they introduced snakes and monkeys (who don't get along) in Aida and when the men scalping Azucena in Il Trovatore actually removed her wig during the Open Dress Rehearsal, and Marianne Cornetti continued singing with passion as if it were planned.”
Tenor Greg Sterchi (rt) during a
1992 production of Carmen

Tenor Greg Sterchi has been performing with the Atlanta Opera since 1990 and has had his share of memories.“One of the most memorable productions was the 1992 Carmen which was set in the current time period. Ken Cazan was the director. Instead of gypsies, we were terrorists toting AK-47s and we wore spandex and polyester costumes, Ray-Bans, and slicked-back hair. In typical Ken Cazan fashion, it was full of sex and violence!  I met my partner of 10 years during that production and built friendships that exist today.”
Lenna Turner

Josh Borden says, "Above all, there are magical moments that seem to creep into each show.” According to Lenna Turner, she fell in love with opera through the experience of performing in the chorus: “I fell instantly in love with an art form that I had very little exposure to growing up. I always say 'I can’t believe I get to sing this with these talented people.'"

The Atlanta Opera is honored to be part of the tradition of musical excellence in our community. We thank our tireless chorus for their years of talent and commitment, and look forward to sharing many more seasons making opera magic with our wonderful colleagues!

Buy your tickets now to see these and other "seasoned" singers in the Atlanta Opera Chorus. Click here

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Angels of Faust

This season, The Atlanta Opera celebrates Chorus Master Walter Huff’s 25th anniversary with the company. The opera chorus for our latest production of Charles Gounod’s Faust features 46 local singers, carefully selected and rehearsed by Maestro Huff. We asked a few of them to describe their experiences onstage with TAO.
Alto Laurie Tossing
Alto Laurie Tossing made her Atlanta Opera debut in 2002 for our production of La rondine. She’s performed in almost thirty operas with the company and described her experience in 2007's Turandot as a career highlight: “It was our first show at CEPAC, and in the final scene there were about 80 people on stage. I was standing at the top of those huge stairs, right in center stage, so I could see everything--the stage, the pit, and that spectacular new space that is such a joy in which to sing. We were singing the exquisite reprise of ‘Nessun dorma’ in the finale, and there were two women right in the front row, clutching each other and literally jumping up and down in their seats with excitement. I was so overwhelmed by it all, that the moment we stopped singing, I burst into tears.”

Big moments like these are what make opera come alive. Here at the Atlanta Opera, we couldn’t make them happen without Maestro Huff. As soprano Christina Howell puts it, “Using voices to tell stories is what opera is all about. By expecting precision, artistry and vocal storytelling, Maestro Huff allows the Atlanta Opera Chorus to function simultaneously both as one large musical unit and as individual voices and characters.”
Soprano Allegra Whitney

Greg Sterchie,
who has been singing in our opera chorus since 1990, agrees. "Working with Maestro Huff is a world-class experience." When asked about his experience he noted, “I can’t tell you how many times principal singers who work all over the country and in Europe comment that the Atlanta Opera Chorus is the finest they’ve ever heard.” Adds soprano Allegra Whitney, "It's opera chorus at a whole new level."

It takes a lot of attention to detail to get such great results. For example, in the current production of Faust, an off-stage chorus of angels provides the last vocal moment. It’s a tricky spot musically, but the Maestro had some well-timed advice for his chorus. “Angels just don’t come in early.”

Come hear our chorus of angels - our production of Faust opens this Saturday, March 8!
Buy your tickets now!

Be sure to check back this week, as well as check our Facebook page for more profiles of Atlanta Opera choristers.