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June 15-17: Atlanta Opera’s third annual 96-Hour Opera festival

(April 2024) —The Atlanta Opera“a powerhouse in the Atlanta arts scene” (ArtsATL)” that
in every respect … appears to be hitting on all cylinders” (OperaWire) – announces its third
annual 96-Hour Opera Festival (June 15–17), this season including its first world premiere. A
composition competition that pairs composers and librettists to write ten-minute operas in five
teams, the 96-Hour Opera Project is designed specifically for emerging creative talents from
historically underrecognized communities. The weekend festival begins on Saturday night with
the world premiere of Forsyth County is Flooding (with the Joy of Lake Lanier) by composer
Marcus Norris and librettist Adamma Ebo, which won the competition in 2022. Directing the
production is Tinashe Kajese-Bolden, director of Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre. The next day
features a workshop reading of the 2023 winner, Steele Roots by Selda Sahin and Dave Ragland.
The festival culminates on Monday with this year’s ten-minute opera competition, for which the
pool of applicants was the largest since the project began. The five works will be presented in a
public performance at the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center at Morehouse College. The
Atlanta Opera awards the winning team, selected by a distinguished panel of judges, a $10,000
Antinori Foundation Grand Prize and an Atlanta Opera commission for a new chamber opera
to be produced and performed in an upcoming season; all other participants are guaranteed a
$1,000 honorarium. This season, the ten-minute works will be focused on the technology-driven
topic “AI influence on creativity.” Selected composer/librettist teams for 2024 are: Timothy
Amukele & Jarrod Lee; George Tsz-Kwan Lam & David Davila; Evan Williams & Ashlee Haze;
Kitty Brazelton & Vaibu Mohan; and Lauren McCall & Mo Holmes.

Reflecting on the 96-Hour Opera Project, Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. General & Artistic Director Tomer
Zvulun says:

“The 96-Hour Opera competition has blossomed into a full-blown festival this season. In addition
to hosting the prestigious competition to identify a winning talented team that will be
commissioned for a brand-new opera, we are presenting the world premiere of Forsyth County is
Flooding (winner of the 2022 competition) and the workshop of Steele Roots (winner of last year’s
competition). This vital program is one of the highlights of our season and we are excited that it
has grown into a festival in such a short time.”

Judges for the 96-Hour Opera competition include luminaries from every corner of the industry.
Paul Cremo has overseen projects developed through the Met / Lincoln Center Theater New
Works Program and full commissions for the Met stage, including Grounded by Jeanine Tesori and
George Brant; The Hours by Kevin Puts and Greg Pierce; Eurydice by Matthew Aucoin and Sarah
Ruhl, and many more. Andrea Davis Pinkney, New York Times bestselling and award-winning
author of numerous books, is also the acclaimed librettist for the Houston Grand Opera’s The
Snowy Day, with composer Joel Thompson, a work based on the beloved classic by Ezra Jack
Keats. Her work has garnered multiple Coretta Scott King Book Awards, the Boston Globe-Horn
Book Honor, and the Parenting Publications gold medal. Doug Hooker is CEO of the Midtown
Connector Park Foundation, an initiative to build a public park over a portion of the connector
highway in Atlanta, and before “retiring” in 2022 he led the Atlanta Regional Commission for
many years. Also a musician and composer, he has had recent public performances of his Second
Symphony, First String Quartet, and two choral works. Grammy-nominated composer Carlos
Simon currently serves as composer-in-residence for the John F. Kennedy Center for the
Performing Arts and has written numerous pieces for the National Symphony Orchestra and
Washington National Opera. Simon also holds the position of inaugural Composer Chair of the
Boston Symphony Orchestra, the first in the institution’s 143-year history. Tazewell Thompson
is an internationally acclaimed award-winning director of opera and theater and is also a
playwright, librettist, lecturer, teacher, and actor. The opera Blue, which Thompson created with
composer Jeanine Tesori, won the Music Critics Association of North America Award for Best New
Opera in 2020. After productions at Glimmerglass, Washington National Opera, Dutch National
Opera, English National Opera, and others, it will be produced at Chicago Lyric in November 2024.
His new opera, Jubilee, about the Fisk Jubilee Singers, will have its world premiere in October
2024 at Seattle Opera.

For more information about the composers and librettists competing in the 2024 96-Hour Opera
Project, click here, and a three-part series presented in July 2022 on Georgia Public Television
about the 96-Hour Opera Project can be viewed here.

About The Atlanta Opera

The Atlanta Opera’s mission is to break the boundaries of opera to create exceptional experiences
for audiences everywhere. Founded in 1979, the company works with world-renowned singers,
conductors, directors and designers who seek to enhance the art form. Under the leadership of
internationally recognized stage director and Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. General & Artistic Director
Tomer Zvulun, The Atlanta Opera expanded from three to four mainstage productions at Cobb
Energy Performing Arts Centre and launched the acclaimed “Discoveries” event series, as well as
the innovative 96-Hour Opera Project. In recent years, the company has been named among the
“Best of 2015” by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was nominated in 2016 and 2023 for
International Opera Awards. It also received ArtsATL’s 2019 Luminary Award for Community
Engagement in recognition of its successful Veterans Program in partnership with the Home
Depot Foundation, while the 2023 Governor’s Award for the Arts and Humanities recognized the
excellence of the 96-Hour Opera Project. In addition, The Atlanta Opera was featured in a 2018
Harvard Business School case study about successful organizational growth, and Zvulun
presented a TEDx Talk at Emory University titled “The Ambidextrous Opera Company, or Opera in
the Age of iPhones.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, The Atlanta Opera was one of the only
companies in the world to create a full, alternative season, consisting of no less than 40 live
performances in two different outdoor venues, including a revolutionary custom-designed circus
tent. The critically acclaimed productions and concerts were streamed in HD on the newly created
“Atlanta Opera Film Studio” streaming platform, which continues to allow The Atlanta Opera to
reach a global audience. National media coverage of the “pandemic season” included features in
the Wall Street Journal and on PBS NewsHour. Reflecting on the company’s achievements over the
past decade, Musical America declared, “The Atlanta Opera has arrived.” For more information,

© 21C Media Group, April 2024

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