Friday, April 24, 2015

We're excited to bring Three Decembers, an opera by American composer Jake Heggie, to Atlanta this May. 

The contemporary opera (set in the late 20th century) will launch the Discoveries series - dedicated to audience members looking for new operatic works, new ideas, and fresh perspectives.

Three Decembers, first performed at the Houston Grand Opera in 2008, is a chamber opera based on a short story by Terrance McNally. The production will be conducted by Steven Osgood and directed by Emma Griffin with scenic design by Laura Jellinek; all three are making their Atlanta Opera debuts. Costume Design is by Joanna Schmink and Lighting Design is by Ken Yunker. Both are Atlanta-based designers.

Taking place during three Decembers over the course of three decades (1986, 1996, 2006), the story hinges on evolving family relationships, mounting tensions, and deep secrets that lie between a mother and her adult daughter and son.

The opera spans a period of 20 years, opening in 1986 with the children reading their Christmas cards from their mother. Christmas of 1996 reveals the death of Charlie’s partner, Beatrice’s disintegrating marriage, and the truth behind their father’s death. The third December, set in 2006, finds the children eulogizing Maddy and reflecting on the tapestry of lies that has been exposed.

Jake Heggie is a Guggenheim Fellow and composer of acclaimed operas Dead Man Walking, Moby Dick, The End of the Affair and the upcoming Great Scott. His work has been produced on five continents and recorded for Atlantic Records and Virgin Classics. He lives in San Francisco with his husband, Curt Branom.

Librettist Gene Scheer frequently collaborates with Heggie, including their productions of Moby Dick and To Hell and Back. His operas have been performed at Houston Grand Opera, the Dallas Opera, and the Metropolitan Opera. Documentarian Ken Burns featured Scheer’s song “American Anthem” (sung by Norah Jones) in his Emmy Award-winning World War II documentary, The War. Scheer’s work on the oratorio for August 4, 1964 earned him a Grammy nomination.

Three Decembers will be presented on May 29, 30 and 31 at the Alliance Theatre. Single tickets are currently available for $35, plus convenience and venue fees, and can be purchased online at or by calling 404-881-8885. The opera will be performed in English. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

High School Opera Institute

The Atlanta Opera and Emory University are pleased to offer High School Opera Institute, a one-week intensive study program on the Emory campus, designed for rising 10th-12th grade singers. 

Classes include:
• Individual and group vocal coaching; diction
• Yoga and stretching; movement and characterization
• Audition techniques; vocal health
• Resume writing; college and career discussion sessions.

Using the audition process as a focus, students receive feedback throughout the week, which culminates in a final mock audition, presented in front of parents and invited guests. Young singers come away with improved vocal technique, better understanding of the audition process, and increased confidence in an audition or interview situation.

• Applications can be downloaded by clicking here

• Deadline to apply is Friday, March 27
• Please email resume, application (and headshot if available) to
• Selected applicants will be invited to audition by Wednesday, April 1
• Auditions will be Saturday, April 11 and Monday, April 13
• Participation fee: $500.00

For more information or to apply, email Wade Thomas at


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Pick Up Your Q: Stage Director Tara Faircloth

You’re a Georgia native. What is it like to direct a show so close to home?

To be perfectly honest, I've been so focused on staging the show, I've hardly taken a moment to soak it all in!  However, it has been quite a few years since I've been on the East Coast in the spring, and I had forgotten how perfectly breathtaking it is when everything starts blooming.  This is such a gorgeous city... it is a real pleasure to be back in my native land.

In recent years, you've worked as an assistant director in several major opera houses. What have you learned as an AD that you've applied as a stage director?

The job of a big house AD is very intense and requires a very long list of skills that you might not use as often when you are in the director chair, most having to do with organization and large scale communication. As an AD I've developed a strong appreciation for the many technicians and production staff that make the “magic” happen behind the scenes. I've also gotten a lot of experience working with huge choruses, and have really learned to love how a chorus can help bring the stage to life and amplify the story. 

What are some of your favorite moments, musically or theatrically, in The Marriage of Figaro?   
Where to begin?! Well, maybe at the beginning... when the curtain rises we meet Figaro and Susanna, busily preparing for their wedding day.  I just love the hustle and bustle, the playfulness and charm of these adorable people who are so clearly in love. Another favorite moment is  the Figaro/Susanna duet in the finale of Act 4. There is a huge amount of physical comedy in that section, and it ends when Figaro brings it all to a halt with a big kiss. The two end up giggling on floor together.  Musically and dramatically it is really satisfying.

What is the most complicated scene to direct in this opera?

This entire opera feels like a three-ring circus from start to finish, with only small pause for breath during the Countess's arias and Susanna's Act 4 aria. The rest of the time it is non-stop action. A household run by Figaro and Susanna would be nothing less! Probably the most physically (and mentally?) demanding scene is the finale of Act 4. There is an awful lot of back and forth, with ladies in disguise, wrong exits, and intense wooing in the dark. Keeping up with it all is a real trick!

This show has several strong female characters. What’s your take on their relationships and their world?

I love the women of Nozze. They are smart and strong, and when they get hurt, they shed a tear and then they pick themselves back up again. In another opera, the Countess would probably go lose her mind when faced with her husband's infidelities. We would end with a mad scene and suicide. Not our Countess!  She calls up the smartest lady she knows (Susanna) and makes a plan.

What advice would you give to an audience member enjoying The Marriage of Figaro for the first time?    

Fasten your seatbelt! This is an opera that is filled to the brim with gorgeous and amusing tunes, and they are sung by genuine, fully-developed characters experiencing all the many aspects of love. Please laugh, but also allow yourself to feel the pain of the Countess when she realizes she no longer holds interest for her husband, or the jealousy and heartache of Figaro when he discovers he has been laughing at his own expense. Relish how generously Mozart expends his beautiful music... even the most ludicrous moments are exquisitely beautiful, because he has tunes to spare. This is an amazing cast, and I think it will be quite clear why this is one of the most beloved operas of all time.