Tuesday, November 23, 2010

An Opera About... Pirates?

In addition to mounting a new experiment with the 24-Hour Opera Project amid the madness of National Opera Week, we in The Atlanta Opera Education Department also had our hands full managing a band of pirates. Add in some young, enthusiastic lads and lassies, and what do you have? A rollicking good time!

For National Opera Week, we took our studio touring show, The Pirates of Penzance, into the community and welcomed a new, younger audience to the exciting world of opera. From a children’s museum to a workshop created specially for Girl Scouts, the pirates traveled across dry land to bring their story to landlubbers of all ages.

We began the week at Imagine It! The Children’s Museum of Atlanta as a part of their current exhibit “Making America's Music: Rhythm, Roots & Rhyme.” The kids loved the performance and enjoyed the opportunity to ask the artists questions about opera, performing and pirates. We had a great time exploring the exhibit as well.

Next up, we welcomed the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta to The Atlanta Opera. The girls saw a performance of The Pirates of Penzance, made their own Jolly Roger pirate hats, played dress-up with opera costumes and accessories, and saw a stage make-up demonstration. These lassies (and lad) had the time of their lives, and somehow by the end of the workshop, The Atlanta Opera Center was shipshape and ready for the 24-Hour Opera Project to begin!

Below are some highlights from the Girl Scout workshop…

Elizabeth Claxton (Mabel), Wade Thomas (Pirate King) and Lara Longsworth (Ruth) in The Pirates of Penzance.

Lara Longsworth (Ruth) performing with one of our amazing troops. A big thanks to Girl Scout Troops 10708 and 1166 for their great performances in the show!

Elizabeth Claxton and Wesley Morgan play the love-struck couple Mabel and Frederic.

The Girl Scouts decorated their own pirate hats to take home.

Love this “You rock!” pirate hat.

Oh, the treasures found in the costume shop…

An old pirate aged from life on the high seas?

No, just an unsuspecting volunteer for the stage make-up demonstration. How amazing!

Among all the activities, many of the Girl Scouts still found time to write thank-you notes – we think this one says it all…

“When I was younger I thought opera was just singing, nothing fun, but I was wrong!”

By Jillian – Nov. 6, 2010

Thanks for an amazing National Opera Week, everyone. Hope to see you again when the pirates set sail this spring!

Monday, November 8, 2010

24-Hour Opera Project... in 25 hours!

Daylight savings time is only annoying when you're not trying to create, produce, and perform a 10 minute opera in 24 hours! That extra hour meant the mayhem and joys of the creative process could last a little longer, and we all could revel in good ole' fashioned fun -- with a hint of drama and a few death scenes... oh, and a rubber chicken.

You've probably heard by now that The Atlanta Opera embarked on a little experiment called the 24-Hour Opera Project. Composers, lyricists, stage directors and opera singers from all over the country -- randomly put into teams -- had 24-hours to compose, stage and rehearse a 10-minute opera. The theme was “Family Reunion” – an appropriate topic for opera, don’t you think?

The project was created for National Opera Week, OPERA America’s annual celebration of opera. Opera companies across the United States were charged with ways to actively engage their respective communities with events and concerts that can expose new audiences to opera. We think we were quite successful in this calling.

With the help of many, many enthusiastic partners, staffers, volunteers, media, and our panel of celebrity judges, we conducted an experiment we may just want to try again! So keep in touch, will ya'? Maybe next year you can join us!

Below is a recap of the 24-Hour Opera Project... in 25 hours!

Bass Larry Frazier, tenor Charles Baugh, and mezzo-soprano Sharon Blackwood rehearse their black comedy, A Toast for all Toasts.

Stage director Bari Newport rehearses Eye of the Needle with bass J. Robert Adams.

(left to right) Mezzo-soprano Andrea Green, tenor Dennis Shuman, soprano Vivian Clifton and Stage Director Beth Suryan rehearse a scene from Scrub a Dub-Raw, a country reunion gone horribly awry.

Mezzo-soprano Andrea Green, tenor Dennis Shuman, and soprano Vivian Clifton perform Scrub a Dub-Raw.

Soprano Jennifer Zuiff, bass Larry Frazier, tenor Charles Baugh, and mezzo-soprano Sharon Blackwood perform A Toast for all Toasts.

The cast and creators of A Toast for all Toasts receive their prize. The recipients are: Valerie Pool (accompanist), Chadwick Hagan (lyricist), Jennifer Zuiff (soprano), Patrick McColery (stage director), Sharon Blackwood (mezzo), Marie Incontrera (composer), Larry Frazier (baritone), Charles Baugh (tenor)

The creators and singers of Scrub a Dub-Raw receive their prizes for “Audience Favorite.” They are (clockwise from left) Beth Suryan, director; Nicole Chamberlain, composer; Andrea Green, mezzo-soprano; Vynnie Meli, librettist; Dennis Shuman, tenor; Vivian Clifton, soprano; Stephen McCool, baritone; Catherine Schaefer, accompanist/music director (not pictured).

The “Judges' Favorite” Award went to Eye of the Needle, an opera about a “family reunion” in the “dust bowl.” Pictured here are (front row, from left) Robert Adams, bass-baritone; Catherine Striplin, accompanist/musical director; Bari Newport, director; (back row, from left) Dennis Hanthorn, judge, Zurich General Director of The Atlanta Opera; Nicole Jones, emcee, Editor in Chief for Atlanta PlanIt; Sondra Collins, soprano; Bart Gilleland, baritone; Karen Wyatte, mezzo; Curtis Krick, librettist; Lois Reitzes, judge, Program Director, host of Second Cup Concert and ASO Broadcast, WABE; Dwight Coleman, judge, Director of the School of Music, Georgia State University; (not pictured) Edwardo Perez, composer.