May 14, 2018

21C Media Group is pleased to announce that it now represents The Atlanta Opera for press and public relations. Since appointing Tomer Zvulun as its General and Artistic Director in 2013, the Georgia opera house has been riding a wave of extraordinary creative and economic resurgence, highlighted by the success of this spring’s world premiere production of Jake Heggie’s Out of Darkness: Two Remain in the award-winning Discoveries series. Presenting new and unusual work in alternative city venues, the series represents one of Zvulun’s key innovations. Designed to increase artistic risks while reducing financial ones, these also include the addition of musical theater to the annual mainstage lineup, taking a fresh approach to the classics, engaging artists of international stature, partnering with local arts organizations, collaborating on new co-productions with major opera houses around the world, and creating The Atlanta Opera Studio, the company’s first young artist program. Through these initiatives, The Atlanta Opera is now not only enjoying substantial net asset and fundraising gains but has also been honored with a 2015 “Best of Atlanta” award from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and a 2016 International Opera Award nomination. As the Atlanta Business Chronicle notes, “The Atlanta Opera has something joyous to sing about.”

It was the Discoveries series that helped The Atlanta Opera score both recent accolades. Since its inauguration in the 2014–15 season, the series has enabled the company to reach new audiences. By taking opera out of its traditional, grand-scale setting, Discoveries presentations have been seen at such alternative neighborhood venues as the Atlanta Botanical Garden, Lé Maison Rouge, Theatrical Outfit, Conant Performing Arts Center, Rialto Center for the Arts, and the Alliance Theatre. Likewise, by tackling adventurous new repertoire that addresses a broad range of topical issues, the series has succeeded in engaging multiple new segments of Atlanta’s diverse and vibrant community.

The Atlanta Opera Studio program was introduced in 2016 to provide emerging artists with invaluable performance experience alongside world-class professionals. The program has already helped launch the careers of director Brenna Corner and tenor Santiago Ballerini, both of whom return to Atlanta’s main stage this season. As Arts ATL observes, the Opera Studio “not only put[s] Atlanta on the map as a training center, but provide[s] a stable of performers to work in the community.”

Born in Israel and educated at Tel Aviv Open University and Harvard Business School, Tomer Zvulun is an internationally recognized stage director whose work has been presented in Europe, Israel, and the Americas by such important institutions as the Metropolitan Opera, Washington National Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Seattle Opera, Tel Aviv Opera, Buenos Aires’ Teatro Colón, and Ireland’s Wexford Festival. Although his appointment as General and Artistic Director of The Atlanta Opera represents his first managerial post, Zvulun has been instrumental in masterminding the company’s recent triumphant turnaround. He explains:

“The Atlanta Opera has seen tremendous growth over the past few years. Today’s Atlanta community has an appetite for sophisticated and innovative storytelling, as demonstrated by recent sold-out houses for both our mainstage productions and our award-winning Discoveries series. As we expand and further our reach in the U.S. and around the world, we look to share this growth and our vision for the future through our partnership with 21C Media Group. Its knowledge and relationships within the industry will help us to articulate our mission authentically and share our unique operatic endeavors with audiences nationwide and beyond.”

Success of Out of Darkness: Two Remain premiere and other 2017–18 productions to date

This announcement comes on the heels of The Atlanta Opera’s world premiere production of Out of Darkness: Two Remain from the unstoppable team of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer. The most recent offering in the Discoveries series, this took place in Theatrical Outfit’s Balzer Theatre at Herren’s in Downtown Atlanta. Under Zvulun’s direction, the heartbreaking story of two Holocaust survivors – a Polish dissident and a gay German Jew – was hailed as “a brilliant, haunting watershed for The Atlanta Opera” (Arts ATL). “This piece is perfect for its time – it is completely relevant to the world that we live in today,” declared Schmopera. “It does something unusual for 21st-century opera: it risks being remembered by the audience,” agreed EarRelevant. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution pronounced the “devastatingly powerful new production … a high benchmark for the company, representing fantastic new engagement with important, groundbreaking contemporary work.” Arts ATL elaborated:

“This production is not always easy to watch; it is deeply emotional and deeply moving. It lingers with you long after the performance. And for me, those are hallmarks of great art. I have to give strong props to Tomer Zvulun, the Atlanta Opera’s artistic director, for staging a production as impactful and provocative as this, and also for the care he brought to it in his direction. This is a vastly different Atlanta Opera under his charge, and I love his sense of daring. … A production this good makes me eager to see what’s coming next.”

The premiere crowns what is already proving to be a banner season. The Atlanta Opera launched 2017-18 with the Discoveries series’ presentation of Kurt Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins, starring Grammy Award-winner Jennifer Larmore in the intimate night-club ambiance of midtown Atlanta’s Lé Maison Rouge at Paris on Ponce, where Brian Clowdus’ “tight, effective production” (Arts ATL) succeeded in creating a “hallucinatory, immersive world” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution). The first mainstage presentation was Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman, with Wayne Tigges, Melody Moore, and Jay Hunter Morris heading an all-star cast in Zvulun’s new staging. A co-production with Houston Grand Opera and Cincinnati Opera, this offered “a sleek, modern, nuanced take on the classic story” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution), prompting Opera News to marvel: “If last night’s performance is an indication of things to come, Atlanta may have an opera company that is in the midst of its own redemption.”

Next, marking the directorial debut of E. Loren Meeker, The Atlanta Opera’s production of Donizetti’s The Daughter of the Regiment – featuring Andriana Chuchman, 2016-17 Atlanta Opera Studio artist Santiago Ballerini, and Stephanie Blythe’s role debut as the Marquise of Berkenfeld – was “a bel canto winner” (Schmopera). Most recently, thanks to an “effective emphasis on dramatic storytelling” by Atlanta Opera Studio stage director Brenna Corner, the company’s “successful production [made] it clear why Carmen has remained such an enduring classic” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution). In Bizet’s music moreover, “the orchestra, together with the fine singing, offered up that special dimension that makes opera something far more than theater accompanied by music” (Arts ATL).

Upcoming this spring: Sweeney Todd

Building on the success of The Pirates of Penzance, which marked the company’s first foray into musical theater in the 2015-16 season, The Atlanta Opera concludes 2017-18 with a mainstage production of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Baritone Michael Mayes, heralded as “a revelation” (The Times of London), sings the title role opposite mezzo-soprano Maria Zifchak, a familiar face at the Metropolitan Opera, who makes her company debut as Mrs. Lovett. Directed by Albert Sherman, a resident stage director at New York City Opera for more than 30 years, Sondheim’s Broadway classic draws the Atlanta season to a close in five performances under the baton of Timothy Myers, former Artistic and Music Director of North Carolina Opera, at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre (June 9–17). Click here for a glimpse of The Atlanta Opera’s 2017-18 season.

The 2018-19 season

The Atlanta Opera’s commitment to innovation continues apace next season. The 2018-19 lineup boasts a pair of productions in the Discoveries series that celebrate jazz and tango respectively. The first of these is the Southern premiere of Charlie Parker’s Yardbird (2015), a fictionalized account of the great saxophonist’s final hours, created by jazz musician Daniel Schnyder and librettist Bridgette A. Wimberly. Already a hit at proscenium theaters in Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, and London, the opera is now being re-orchestrated by the composer expressly for its jazz-club debut at Lé Maison Rouge in Paris on Ponce, where Israeli director Omer Ben Seadia looks forward to recreating Birdland, Parker’s famed Manhattan club. Clinton Smith, music director of Orchestra Seattle and the Seattle Chamber Singers, will conduct (Sep 27–30).

To inaugurate the mainstage season, Atlanta commemorates this year’s Bernstein centennial with West Side Story, in a major new co-production with Houston Grand Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the Glimmerglass Festival. Created by Francesca Zambello, General Director of the Glimmerglass Festival and Artistic Director of the Washington National Opera, and complete with Jerome Robbins’s original choreography, the production bowed in Houston this April, where it impressed the Houston Chronicle as “relevant and at times, transcendent” (Nov 3–11).

The Atlanta Opera rings in the New Year with the Southeast premiere of Dead Man Walking (2000), arguably the most popular American opera of the 21st century. Based on Sister Helen Prejean’s best-selling account of her experience as a spiritual advisor on death row, Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally’s opera has been credited with making “the most concentrated impact of any piece of American music theater since West Side Story” (The Guardian). A co-production with the Israeli Opera, Zvulun’s mainstage treatment will showcase Jamie Barton – winner of the 2017 Beverly Sills Artist Award, 2015 Richard Tucker Award, and 2013 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition – in her role debut as Sister Helen. The superstar mezzo-soprano will be joined by Sweeney Todd’s Michael Mayes, reprising his celebrated portrayal of condemned murderer Joseph De Rocher, as seen at venues including London’s Barbican, Washington National Opera, and San Francisco Opera, where he was “by far the best singer and most convincing actor in the cast” (Wall Street Journal). Mayes reunites with his Sweeney Todd co-star Maria Zifchak, who lends her “rich-voiced mezzo-soprano” (New York Times) to the role of De Rocher’s mother. Joseph Mechavich, principal conductor of Kentucky Opera, will be on the podium (Feb 2–10).

Next up at the Cobb Energy Centre is Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, in a new treatment by Zvulun that represents a co-production with Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Hawaii Opera Theatre, Seattle Opera, and Michigan Opera Theatre. Baritone David Adam Moore, who boasts an “enviable swagger coupled with a subtle musicality and big, handsome voice” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer), sings the title role, opposite soprano Raquel González – a “true artist” (Opera News) – as Tatyana, with the Lensky of tenor William Burden, who may be heard on the Grammy Award-winning recording of Thomas Adès’s The Tempest. Stephen Lord, principal conductor of the Michigan Opera Theater and music director for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, conducts (March 2–10).

For the second event in the 2018-19 Discoveries series, The Atlanta Opera brings back one of its biggest recent hits, when Argentinean-born conductor Jorge Parodi, blessed with “the most expressive conducting hands since Stokowski’s” (New York Daily News), leads a revival of Zvulun’s sell-out staging of Astor Piazzolla’s tango opera Maria de Buenos Aires at Lé Maison Rouge (March 28–31). When it debuted last year, the production was heralded as an “ideal marriage” of opera and venue. Arts ATL continued:

Zvulun … staged the show as immersive theater, taking advantage of Lé Maison Rouge’s innate ‘red velvet bar’ character to emulate that of a Buenos Aires tango bar and surround the audience with action at close range. The intimate approach and the venue’s evocative ambiance truly lent power to the performance.”

To conclude the season, The Atlanta Opera presents Verdi’s La traviata at the Cobb Centre, in a lavish new co-production with Washington National Opera and Glimmerglass Opera. Making her U.S. and house debuts in the title role is Czech-born soprano Zuzana Markova, whose recent headlining appearance in Opéra Grand Avignon’s Lucia di Lammermoor prompted critics to christen her “the next great coloratura soprano” (Opera Wire). She will be joined by Guatemalan tenor Mario Chang, a graduate of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Program, as Alfredo, with the “strong stage presence” (Opera News) of Argentine baritone Fabián Veloz as his father, Germont. Music Director Arthur Fagen, who launched his Atlanta Opera tenure in 2010, leads from the pit (April 27–May 5).

About The Atlanta Opera

The Atlanta Opera is one of the finest regional opera companies in the nation. In 2013, the company recruited internationally recognized stage director Tomer Zvulun as its General and Artistic Director. In the 2014–15 season, the company launched the acclaimed Discoveries series of operas staged in alternative theaters around Atlanta. The program was recognized by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as part of its “Best of 2015” awards and the company was nominated for an International Opera Award in London in 2016. The Discoveries series has grown from three to 16 performances over the past four seasons. In the 2016-17 season, the company expanded its mainstage season from three to four productions at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. The opera works with world-renowned singers, conductors, directors, and designers who seek to enhance the art form and make it accessible for a sophisticated, 21st-century audience. The Atlanta Opera was founded in 1979 and to this day adheres to its mission to enrich lives through opera.

 

High-resolution promotional photos may be downloaded here.

 

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Atlanta Opera

Upcoming spring production

June 9, 12, 15, 16 & 17
Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
Stephen Sondheim: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Conductor: Timothy Myers
Director: Albert Sherman
Sweeney Todd: Michael Mayes
Mrs. Lovett: Maria Zifchak

2018-19 season 

Sep 27, 28, 29 & 30
Lé Maison Rouge at Paris on Ponce
Daniel Schnyder: Charlie Parker’s Yardbird
Conductor: Clinton Smith
Director: Omer Ben Seadia
Cast: TBA

Nov 3, 6, 9 & 11
Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
Bernstein: West Side Story
Conductor: David Neely
Director: Francesca Zambello
Cast: TBA

Feb 2, 5, 8 & 10
Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
Jake Heggie: Dead Man Walking
Conductor: Joseph Mechavich
Director: Tomer Zvulun
Sister Helen Prejean: Jamie Barton
Joseph de Rocher: Michael Mayes
Mrs. de Rocher: Maria Zifchak
Sister Rose: Karen Slack

March 2, 5, 8 & 10
Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin
Conductor: Stephen Lord
Director: Tomer Zvulun
Eugene Onegin: David Adam Moore
Lensky: William Burden
Tatyana: Raquel González

March 28, 29, 30 & 31
Lé Maison Rouge at Paris on Ponce
Piazzolla: Maria de Buenos Aires
Conductor: Jorge Parodi
Director: Tomer Zvulun
Cast: TBA

April 27 & 30; May 3 & 5
Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
Verdi: La traviata
Conductor: Arthur Fagen
Director: TBA
Violetta: Zuzana Markova
Alfredo: Mario Chang
Germont: Fabian Veloz

 

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© 21C Media Group, May 2018