Friday, November 15, 2013

The Whirlwind 24-Hour Opera Project®

The 24-Hour Opera Project® (24HOP), held earlier this month as part of National Opera Week, is an opera experience like no other for both participants and audience. Imagine writing, composing, rehearsing and performing a brand new opera in just 24 hours collaborating with people you have probably never met.  You can read what Cory Lippiello, the Opera’s new director of artistic planning and community engagement has to say about the Project here

The latest 24HOP, with the limited hours of creation and rehearsal happening at First Presbyterian Church, had its own drama, as seems appropriate.  A last-minute cancellation left only three lyricists to match with four composers.  So, in a random selection, one lyricist was lucky enough to have her libretto set to music by two different composers.

The work of the composer-librettist teams yielded two versions of an opera called The Lifespan of a Fly, another opera named 3D’s Dance Hall, and one entitled Grace Out of Place.  These operas were composed around the theme of “adopting a new identity,” which was drawn from ideas the artists themselves submitted at the Friday kick-off. As secondary inspiration, the teams blindly selected props ranging from a king’s crown to a feather duster, a giant plastic fly and other seemingly arbitrary stage utensils including a clown’s red nose and a bull whip.

In the wee hours of Saturday morning, the new operas were turned over to the director-singer teams to bring the works to life on stage. After a grueling, yet energizing day, the new pieces had their world premieres on Saturday evening before an appreciative and engaged audience at the 14th Street Playhouse, a new, larger venue for the Project.

The judges – the Opera’s Cory Lippiello, Jamila Robinson from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Lyndsay Werking from OPERA America – selected The Lifespan of a Fly as their top pick.  The audience found 3D’s Dance Hall to be their choice.

Here’s the evening in pictures and sound.

Bert Huffmann, the Opera's director of development, was emcee for the 24HOP showcase.

(Above and below)  GRACE OUT OF PLACE -- music by Natalie Williams, libretto by Lauren McCall.  Performed by Elizabeth Stuk, Megan Brunning, and Pedro Carreras.  Directed by Kristin Kenning.  Their inspiration props were a clown nose and a feather duster.

(Above and below) Judge's Choice -- THE LIFESPAN OF A FLY #1-- music by Ronnie Reshef, libretto by Vynnie Meli.  Performed by Sondra Collins, William Green, and Ivan Segovia.  Directed by Mira Hirsch.  The inspiration props were a crown, a giant plastic fly, and a book.

(Above and below)  THE LIFESPAN OF A FLY #2 -- music by Gustav Westin, libretto by Vynnie Meli.  Performed by Laurie Tossing, Gus Godbee, and Kristin Moye.  Directed by Rebecca Bowden.  The inspiration props were a crown, a book, and a giant plastic fly.

(Above and below) Audience Favorite -- 3D's DANCE HALL -- music by Marvin Carlton, libretto by Madeleine St. Romain.  Performed by Jayme Alilaw, Abigail Halon, and Jonathan Spuhler.  Directed by Dawn Neely.  The inspiration props were a bull whip and a meerschaum pipe.

The audience's favorite team.

The judge's winning team and their trophies.

Listen here to Georgia Public Broadcasting's coverage of 24HOP

Watch the videos:

Grace Out of Place
The Lifespan of a Fly #1
The Lifespan of a Fly #2
3D's Dance Hall

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 6, 2013

The Atlanta Opera Partners with The Breman for Music of the Holocaust

“Despite the horrors of the Holocaust, there were islands of humanity in the midst of the greatest atrocities…” 
-Arthur Fagen, Atlanta Opera Music Director and son of Holocaust survivors

November 9th, 1938.  It’s been 75 years since Kristallnacht, a night of terror that heralded the Holocaust and saw the incarceration of over 30,000 Jews in concentration camps. 

A series of coordinated attacks across Germany and Austria, the term Kristallnacht or the “Night of Broken Glass” came about due to the broken glass that littered the streets after over 7,000 Jewish homes and businesses and 1,000 synagogues were destroyed.

Atlanta Opera Music Director Arthur Fagen, the son of Holocaust survivors Lewis and Rena Fagen (who were Schindlerjuden - Jews rescued from concentration camps by working in the factories of German industrialist Oskar Schindler), has spearheaded a partnership with the William Breman Jewish Heritage and Holocaust Museum this season for the inaugural Molly Blank Jewish Concert Series, which begins this Saturday, November 9th with a performance commemorating the 75th Anniversary of Kristallnacht.
The concert includes Gideon Klein’s String Trio (1944) and Hans Krása’s Passacaglia and Fugue for String Trio (1944), performed by musicians from The Atlanta Opera Orchestra.  The program also includes songs written in Jewish ghettos and concentration camps by composers Isle Weber, Adolf Strauss and Martin Roman and performed by Helene Schneiderman, a well-known mezzo-soprano who is also the daughter of Holocaust survivors. 

As the son of Holocaust survivors, I find it my duty to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive in order to prevent future tragedies of such magnitude,” says Fagen.  “The String Trio by Gideon Klein and the Passacaglia of Hans Krása were written in Thereseienstadt before the composers were deported to Auschwitz. In all probability, they were the last works written by these composers.  It’s important to remember that, despite the horrors of the Holocaust, there were islands of humanity in the midst of the greatest atrocities.”

Atlanta Opera Music Director Arthur Fagen

Join us November 9, 8 p.m. at the Breman for this enriching and meaningful evening.  A reception with the performers follows the concert. Tickets are $50 for Breman museum members and Atlanta Opera subscribers, $65 for non-members and are available here or at 678-222-3700.

Read more about the experience of Arthur Fagen’s parents, Lewis and Rena, with the Holocaust, Oskar Schindler, and their involvement in the making of the Steven Spielberg film Schindler’s List here.


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 1, 2013

The Atlanta Opera’s Fourth Annual 24-Hour Opera Project®

Let the madness begin!  We’re calling it a creative science project where Verdi meets reality TV.  In just a few hours, composers, lyricists, singers and stage directors will gather for the kick-off of the Atlanta Opera’s fourth annual 24-Hour Opera Project® (24HOP).

The participating composers and lyricists will be given a theme and props they must use in their composition, and then they’ll be randomly paired and corralled together overnight to write an opera scene.  The next morning, bright and early, the new pieces will be assigned to stage directors, who will in turn draft singers and accompanists.  Together those groups will have just eight hours to stage, rehearse and bring the new operas to life before presenting them in a public showcase on Saturday evening at the 14th Street Playhouse.

Cory Lippiello, the Atlanta Opera’s new director of artistic planning and community engagement, is producing this year’s 24HOP, which is one of the many activities across the country associated with National Opera Week.

Cory Lippiello, Director of Artistic Planning & Community Engagement, The Atlanta Opera
Just a couple months into her tenure at The Atlanta Opera, this will be Cory’s first experience with 24HOP. Here’s her take:

“This project is not for the faint of heart. And it isn't for people who have issues with editing. Or for people who need time to savor their words or let a new song marinate in the subconscious. It is, however, a project for people who love great music and great storytelling. It's for artists who enjoy the kind of creativity that comes from having restrictions instead of boundless possibilities. It's for performers who like to think on their feet. And it's for audiences that thrill to see something new, fresh and alive. This project is for people who are adventurous, curious, intelligent, emotional creatures, intrigued by life and looking for ways to understand our experience on this planet.  Opera represents vast possibilities for seeing our own experiences and emotions represented on stage in an incredibly visceral way. Even when a character or situation seems wholly removed from our time, opera is a living, breathing art form with something to say about the way we live right now. What could be more immediate, more of-the-moment, than a story created a mere 12 hours earlier?”

At the concluding showcase, the final compositions and performances will be judged by Cory and a panel of judges, including Lyndsay Werking, producer of OPERA America’s New Works Forum, and Jamila Robinson, digital entertainment editor at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  The audience, a key element to what Cory calls “the unique alchemy that is the 24-Hour Opera Project®,” also will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite.
2012 24-Hour Opera Project Winner -- Krispy Kremes & Butter Queens
Why does The Atlanta Opera and the participating composers, lyricists, stage directors, singers and accompanists subject themselves to the madness of creating and performing a new opera in a mere 24 hours?  Because opera can be just as crazy and cool as anything we’d see on reality TV!

Don’t miss the showcase -- Saturday, November 2 at 8 p.m. at the 14th Street Playhouse.  Admission is free and general admission.  Check for more information and reservations.

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.