Friday, January 28, 2011

Indulge Your Senses During The Atlanta Opera's 2011-2012 Season

© 2010 TOKY Branding + Design
The Atlanta Opera’s Zurich General Director Dennis Hanthorn announced the details of the company’s 2011-2012 season, celebrating its fifth anniversary in the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, and welcoming Arthur Fagen as its Music Director. The Atlanta Opera’s new season will feature Donizetti’s chilling Lucia di Lammermoor; The Golden Ticket, a comic opera based on the book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl; and Mozart’s brilliant Don Giovanni, and will be presented November 12, 2011 through May 6, 2012.

"The variety in this season’s selections is exciting. Longtime opera fans, families and first-timers looking to indulge in a unique evening out will all find something appealing,” said Zurich General Director Dennis Hanthorn. “Season tickets start at an affordable $75 for three operas, so we hope our current subscribers will entice their friends to share the opera experience with them. Artistically, each production features debuting singers, many of whom are making headlines on the world’s opera stages. Additionally, I am especially pleased to welcome Arthur Fagen this season as music director.”

The 2011-2012 season is the inaugural season with Arthur Fagen as music director. Fagen will conduct two of the three operas. His other responsibilities as music director include building and developing The Atlanta Opera Orchestra and assisting Hanthorn with singer and orchestra auditions, repertoire selection, and casting for future seasons. Maestro Fagen has had an extensive history with The Atlanta Opera which includes critically acclaimed productions of La traviata, Turandot, Cold Sassy Tree, Akhnaten, The Flying Dutchman, and The Magic Flute.

The Atlanta Opera opens its 2011-12 season at the Cobb Energy Centre on November 12, with Donizetti’s chilling Lucia di Lammermoor. Other performances will be on November 15, 18 and 20, 2011. In Donizetti’s dramatic tragedy, Lucia is forced to marry against her will, setting off a chain of tragic events that leads to the most spectacular mad scene in opera. The tragedy is played out on a grand scale leaving onlookers breathless.

© Tim Wilkerson
Soprano Georgia Jarman sings Lucia, with Stephen Powell in the role of her brother, Enrico. Edgardo is sung by Jonathan Boyd, and Timothy Culver performs the role of Lucia’s bridegroom, Arturo. Atlantan Susan Nicely sings the role of Lucia’s handmaid, Alisa.

© Cleveland Opera
Arthur Fagen, in his inaugural season as Atlanta Opera music director, conducts. Stage direction will be provided by Tomer Zvulun who delighted Atlanta Opera audiences with his engaging staging of The Magic Flute in 2010 and The Flying Dutchman in 2009. Lucia di Lammermoor will be sung in Italian with English supertitles projected above the stage.

The second production in The Atlanta Opera’s 2011-12 season is a comic opera called The Golden Ticket, based on the classic children’s book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” by Roald Dahl. The Golden Ticket, written by Peter Ash using a libretto by Donald Sturrock, will be presented on March 3, 6, 9 and 11, 2012.

© Opera Theatre of St. Louis
Commissioned by American Lyric Theater (Lawrence Edelson, Producing Artistic Director) and Dahl’s widow, Felicity Dahl, The Golden Ticket features all the sweet delights familiar from the book, including chocolate rivers, inflating blueberries and magic elevators. This Atlanta Opera production will be the third production of The Golden Ticket since it premiered in June 2010 at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Many singers from the original Saint Louis cast will reprise their roles in Atlanta including bass-baritone Daniel Okulitch as Willy Wonka/Mr. Know, tenor Andrew Drost as Augustus Gloop, and baritone David Kravitz as Lord Salt.

© Opera Theatre of St. Louis
Mezzo-soprano Abigail Nims, who sang the role of Veruca Salt in Wexford Festival Opera’s production, will sing the role in Atlanta. The roles of Grandma Josephine/Mrs. Teavee will be sung by mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton. The role of Charlie, sung by a boy soprano, will be cast closer to the production. James Robinson, who directed the original production, will direct in Atlanta, as well. Composer Peter Ash will conduct. This production will be sung in English with English supertitles projected above the stage.

The Atlanta Opera closes its 2011-2012 season with Mozart’s masterpiece Don Giovanni on April 28, May 1, 4 and 6, 2012. Widely regarded as the greatest opera ever composed, Don Giovanni is a brilliant combination of comedy and tragedy, telling of the devious schemes and hijinks of history’s most beguiling scoundrel, Don Juan.

© Tim Wilkerson
Bass Andrea Concetti makes his Atlanta Opera debut in the role of Don Giovanni. His sidekick, Leporello, will be sung by debuting bass-baritone Eduardo Chama. Sopranos Lori Guilbeau and Maria Luigia Borsi sing the roles of Donna Anna and Donna Elvira, respectively. The role of Don Ottavio will be sung by tenor Nicholas Phan, who was last heard on The Atlanta Opera stage in 2008 singing Ramiro in Cinderella. The betrothed lovers Zerlina and Masetto will be sung by soprano Angela Kloc and Atlanta baritone Brent Davis. Bass Andrew Kroes sings the Commendatore.

© Tim Wilkerson

Richard Kagey, who designed the set for this season’s Porgy and Bess and directed the Atlanta Opera’s production of Philip Glass’s Akhnaten in 2008, directs, with Atlanta Opera Music Director Arthur Fagen conducting The Atlanta Opera Orchestra. Don Giovanni will be sung in Italian with English supertitles projected above the stage.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Diary of a self-proclaimed musical arts fanatic...

Opera is known for its fanatics. It is a rare artform that inspires and exhilarates all of the senses, and more often than not, procures life-long aficionados. But, what does it mean to be an aficionado - a true admirer and devotee of music? To guest blogger, Alex Gross, it means being an active supporter, as well as a fan. It also means enjoying the complete experience - the "spectacular sensory feast."

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Some people are sports fanatics, others are pop music fanatics; I am a musical arts fanatic! Nothing excites or impresses me more than a well executed opera, ballet, or symphonic performance. The great maestros, tenors and sopranos, ballet dancers, and virtuosos are my rock stars. Watching 4 or 5 guys with electric instruments playing music loud enough to destroy your high frequency hearing can be entertaining, but experiencing the coordination of a full orchestra with a corps of dancers, a chorus, or operatic soloists is a spectacular sensory feast - especially if you are seated toward the front of the balcony, where you can watch the musicians in the pit, as well as the performers on the stage.

The Atlanta Opera has become increasingly successful in attracting world class artists for its productions. Following the final dress rehearsal of last season’s Magic Flute, I had the pleasure of meeting one of my opera idols, Kathleen Kim. Ms. Kim is a diminutive soprano with opulent range and projection. It is difficult to believe that such a huge voice emanates from such a tiny body. Portraying Mozart’s “Queen of the Night,” she beautifully performed the opera’s notoriously challenging arias with requisite bravado.

During the Metropolitan Opera’s 2009-2010 season, Kathleen Kim stole the show (in my opinion) from Anna Netrebko as the robotic Olympia in Les comtes d’Hoffman. When I shared this insight with her, she humbly accepted the compliment, and agreed to oblige me with a picture. I also have an autographed photo on the “music wall” in my home theater, proudly displayed in my collection of arts memorabilia.

The quality of The Atlanta Opera’s productions has been improving with each season. Local audiences have been reacting enthusiastically, but I look forward to the day when arts travelers chose Atlanta as a destination in the same manner that I visit other cities. This should be happening anytime now that we are getting coverage by Opera News! As patronage increases, the ability to finance increasingly ambitious productions improves, which in turn attracts larger audiences in a continuous cycle. And our weather is (usually) better.