Friday, November 18, 2011

Check out these "crazy-good" reviews...

By Ellen Sturgill

Here at The Atlanta Opera, we love all the positive press we're receiving about this season's opening production, Lucia di Lammermoor, but we are especially excited to hear from our loyal patrons and subscribers! Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. Below are some of our favorite reviews!

© Tim Wilkerson

"It was absolutely fabulous!! The music was spinning in my head all night. This is probably my favorite performance. And, I must say, that it was pure joy to be sitting among such an appreciative audience."
- Sallie, Atlanta, GA

"Last night's performance of Lucia di Lammermoor was absolutely wonderful. Georgia Jarman made her character come alive with her silvery voice, flips, trills and difficult passages. She made us truly believe her character was mad- her acting was very convincing. The chorus was wonderful. The costumes were superb, as was the set design. I really enjoyed the Armonica- beautiful, unique sound which really added to the score. Congratulations to you all on a magnificent Lucia! Thanks for all you do for fine arts in Atlanta."
- Diane, McDonough, GA

"Excellent!!! A great evening at the opera."
- Marvin, Atlanta, GA

"The Atlanta Opera's Lucia di Lammermoor is a must see!! The production is wonderful. The cast is strong, the set is unbelievable, the technology used is amazing!! The costumes: wow. Georgia Jarman as Lucia has a strong, clear, beautiful voice. . . The director, Tomer Zvulun, did an inspired job. I hope this opera goes into their repertoire. I would love to see it again."
- Mary, Highlands, NC

"Georgia Jarman brought down the house. Who ever found Georgia deserves a kiss."
- Joe, Atlanta, GA

"It was amazing. This was my first ever opera and it was great. I have found a new love."
- "Living Social" patron

"First rate production. Georgia Jarman proved to be a brilliant selection for the lead role- what a marvelous voice combined with captivating acting. . . The entire ensemble worked well together and made the evening a delight. We look forward to the rest of the season."
- Robert, Atlanta, GA

"Last night's performance was probably the best overall in several years. The voices were all good. Georgia was outstanding. The sets were very effective. Overall- A+."
- Eugene, Macon, GA

"If you haven't seen Atlanta Opera and you live withing 200 miles of it, what is wrong with you?"
- Joseph, Atlanta, GA

"An outstanding performance of Lucia di Lammermoor! Lucia (Georgia Jarman) was phenomenal and hit every one of her complicated notes perfectly! The rare armonica performance was an enchanting treat. The staging particularly striking and effective. All in all, a 10 of 10, and a rare evening of perfection!"
- "Living Social" patron

"It was a great performance and, as always, it has the most wonderful music. The soprano was excellent. Thanks for the beauty of it."
- Barbara, Sandy Springs, GA

© Tim Wilkerson

You have two more opportunities to catch this exciting opera. Please visit our website for more information.

Usage of any images on this blog is restricted to The Atlanta Opera and approved news websites. Any other usage, particularly for professional purposes, must have written permission. For additional information, please contact The Atlanta Opera's Marketing Department at 404.881.8801.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Q & A with Tomer Zvulun, Director of Lucia di Lammermoor

By Ellen Sturgill

While Lucia di Lammermoor has been performed many times, The Atlanta Opera’s production, beginning this weekend, promises to take this classic bel canto work to new heights. The opera opens on Saturday, November 12th at the Cobb Energy Centre, and is directed by “one of opera’s most exciting young directors," Tomer Zvulun.

Tomer has worked with The Atlanta Opera three times in the past, directing the critically acclaimed Flying Dutchman, The Magic Flute, and La traviata. One of Tomer’s gifts as a director is his ability to pull dramatic performances from singers, and combine different aspects from other productions to create a unique theatrical experience. For The Atlanta Opera’s Lucia, Tomer will be utilizing aspects from productions he directed with the Seattle Opera and Opera Cleveland.
Tomer Zvulun sat down to discuss his history with The Atlanta Opera, as well as his thoughts on the upcoming production.

Tomer directing Arthur Woodley, who plays Raimondo in both The Seattle Opera and The Atlanta Opera's productions of Lucia di Lammermoor. Photo courtesy of Tomer Zvulun.

1. Tell me about your history with The Atlanta Opera. This is my fourth show with The Atlanta Opera. I started here as an Assistant Director for La traviata with Stage Director Rhoda Levine. La traviata also happened to be Zurich General Director Dennis Hanthorn and Music Director Arthur Fagen’s first show with the opera. I returned in 2009 to direct The Flying Dutchman and I was recently here (in 2010) for The Magic Flute.

2. What do you like about working with The Atlanta Opera? For one thing, Atlanta feels like a home away from home. I love working with Dennis and Arthur, and I feel like there are a few key things about The Atlanta Opera that set it apart.

First, the casting choices here are always very strong and exciting. Dennis and Arthur are good at finding singers for difficult roles like "Lucia" and the "Flying Dutchman." They cast singers who are not only musically and vocally suited to the roles, but also dramatically strong actors. Also, working with the chorus and Walter Huff is one of the highlights of my time in Atlanta. They are a great group of people who are very strong musically, and are led by a truly outstanding chorus master.

The Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre is a state of the art performance space. It is an excellent technical facility with great acoustics, which is very important in opera. I love getting to work there.  

The audience here in Atlanta is something that I like. They are very open to new ideas and new interpretations. What proved this to me was The Magic Flute, in 2010. It was an unusual production, but the audience was so engaged in the piece. This upcoming production of Lucia is also different, but I have no doubt Atlanta audiences will like it.

3. What is it like working with Arthur Fagen? We are personal friends, so it is very easy to communicate artistically about things. We can say anything to each other, and trust each other’s taste and support. This is our fourth production together in the past two years, and we have a great partnership. We have quite a few projects planned for the future.

4. What do you like about the Atlanta Opera’s Lucia cast? I love it that the whole cast are singing actors. They are not just superb singers. Many times, when you do a bel canto opera, it is all about the melismas and the flourishing beauty of the voice and music. But in the Atlanta Opera’s case, we have intensely committed actors that are very interested in characterization and story-telling, but can also sing this music beautifully.

5. Who have you worked with previously in this cast? I have worked with a lot of the cast before. Arthur Woodley is an old collaborator of mine from the Seattle Opera’s productions of The Ring Cycle and Lucia di Lammermoor. I also worked with Tim Culver on Lucia at Opera Cleveland and am very happy that he’s here. Stephen Powell and I worked together at the New York City Opera, and I was also able to direct Susan Nicely in The Flying Dutchman here. I have not, however, worked with Jonathan Boyd until this production, but I love what he is doing with his interpretation of Edgardo so far.

I’ve never created a show from scratch with Georgia Jarman before, but we have known each other forever. I worked with her at the Met when she had to step in when a singer in La Rondine was sick. So, working on this show is like a reunion!

6. Tell me about the members of the production team, other than Arthur, that you’ve worked with before. The fact that we were able to get the same designers who originated the Seattle and Cleveland productions is one of the most exciting things about this production. The choreographer, Rosa Mercedes, is a leading choreographer in the business, and a fantastic collaborator who I am happy to have here. We worked together in Seattle on this same production. Also, three people who are really crucial to bringing the stage to life are Scenic Designer Erhard Rom, Lighting Designer Robert Wierzel, and Projection Designer Ruppert Bohle. Erhard Rom is one of the busiest designers working in the business today, and we are very excited to have him here for his debut with The Atlanta Opera. I enjoy collaborating with Robert Wierzel, who was nominated for a Tony® last year. Finally, Projection Designer Ruppert Bohle was flown in from France for this production, and we worked together on Opera Cleveland’s production of Lucia, so it is wonderful to have him here.

7. Tell us more about the Seattle Opera and Opera Cleveland’s productions of Lucia that you previously worked on, and how you’ve combined those two shows to create the Atlanta Opera’s production. Each production (Seattle and Cleveland) had very successful elements to them. Cleveland's concept for Lucia was very bold and original. We transposed the setting of the opera to a mafia world. I am a film buff, so movies influenced me and helped inspire me to create a Sicilian or Godfather Lucia. The set was a unit set, which utilized lighting and projections in new ways. It was very successful in Cleveland, and I loved the concept.

Seattle Opera’s production was more traditional than Cleveland's, but still unique. We decided to set it in the early Victorian period- mid-19th century. What we are taking from this production are the costumes. They work very well with the themes in Lucia di Lammermoor because the Victorian world, and society conventions, were very suffocating to women. Even in the way they dressed with corsets and hoopskirts. Lucia had no control over her life and is forced to fit certain social conventions and expectations that are expected from women in that time. Working on these two productions helped create the vision for this upcoming production.

Tomer working with Aleksandra Kurzak, who performed the title role of Lucia in The Seattle Opera's production. Photo by Bill Mohn.

With the influences of Opera Cleveland and Seattle Opera’s productions, as well as some tricks of our own, the Atlanta Opera’s production of Lucia di Lammermoor promises to be a spectacular experience. For a video of Tomer directing Lucia at Opera Cleveland, visit our Tumblr blog. If you haven’t purchased your tickets yet, there is still time before the show opens this Saturday, November 12th. Please visit our website or call 404.881.8885.

Usage of any images on this blog is restricted to The Atlanta Opera and approved news websites. Any other usage, particularly for professional purposes, must have written permission. For additional information, please contact The Atlanta Opera's Marketing Department at 404.881.8801.

Friday, November 4, 2011

On the Cutting Edge of Opera

By Ellen Sturgill

Are you confused about opera? Do you find your head spinning when people use the terms “bel canto,” “coloratura,” or “libretto” (especially if used in the same sentence)? Then have no fear! This Sunday, November 6th, The Atlanta Opera will be presenting “Opera with an Edge,” a live sneak preview of this season’s operas. Hosted by long-time Atlanta Opera supporter Bob Edge, this event promises to de-mystify your questions about opera and educate you about the upcoming season.

To get a sense of what we can expect to see on Sunday, we asked Mr. Edge a few questions about this event and what he is looking forward to this season. Enjoy!

1. How long have you been presenting the Opera with an Edge program? I have been doing opera previews since 1971—first for The Met (until 1986) and more recently for The Atlanta Opera.

2. What can people expect in the presentation this Sunday? Some very fine young singers will present arias, trios, duets, etc. , on the program—and I will provide some comments and listening tips that hopefully will help audience members enjoy these performances even more.

3. What do you hope people will gain from the upcoming Opera with an Edge presentation? Our goal for Opera with an Edge is to give the audience some additional information about the operas being presented in the forthcoming season and also a taste of the musical treats in store.

4. What are you looking forward to most about this upcoming season? The upcoming season offers three wonderfully diverse operas that Atlantans will love. It will be a treat to see a brand new opera—The Golden Ticket based on the Willy Wonka children’s story—because it was a smash hit when it was introduced in St. Louis in 2010 and will have an appeal to children and adults.

This event will be at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, November 6th at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. It is free, but does require reservations. Call 404.892.3132,, or click here to RSVP for what will surely be an entertaining, exciting, and enlightening evening.

Usage of any images on this blog is restricted to The Atlanta Opera and approved news websites. Any other usage, particularly for professional purposes, must have written permission. For additional information, please contact The Atlanta Opera's Marketing Department at 404.881.8801.