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The Atlanta Opera Announces Atlanta Opera Company Players: Atlanta’s Own International Talent, Chosen to Reimagine 2020-21 Season

Top row: Jamie Barton, Kevin Burdette, Reginald Smith, Daniela Mack; second row: Morris Robinson, Trey Smagur, Michael Mayes, Jasmine Habersham; third row: Alek Shrader, Ryan McKinny, Megan Marino, Talise Trevigne (for photographers’ credits and high-resolution photos for download, click here)

The Atlanta Opera announces the formation of the Atlanta Opera Company Players, featuring twelve world-class singers, all resident in Atlanta and the southeast, who will collaborate with the company’s leadership team to reimagine its 2020–21 season. Drawing on the region’s exceptional talent pool, and reflecting its vitality and diversity, these handpicked artists are sopranos Jasmine Habersham and Talise Trevigne; mezzos Jamie Barton, Daniela Mack and Megan Marino; tenors Alek Shrader and Richard Trey Smagur; baritones Michael Mayes and Reginald Smith Jr.; bass-baritone Ryan McKinny; and basses Kevin Burdette and Morris Robinson. Several already have strong ties to The Atlanta Opera, notably Barton, Mayes, Burdette and Robinson, who serve as the company’s Artistic Advisory Council. To complete the Company Players, these twelve singers will be joined by this season’s six emerging young members of The Atlanta Opera Studio Artists program.

Together, the Atlanta Opera Company Players will work to reimagine the 2020-21 season, developing and taking part in flexible, adaptable plans for live presentations at a new open-air venue and for creative digital media alternatives, in case live performance should once again be contraindicated. The twelve established professionals will serve as mentors to the six Studio Artists, who will serve as covers for their more experienced colleagues.

To support these changes, The Atlanta Opera has put together a new Health and Safety Advisory Board. Bringing together epidemiologists, public health specialists and doctors – including Dr. Carlos del Rio, Distinguished Professor of Medicine at Emory University, and John Haupert, president and CEO of Atlanta’s Grady Health System and Vice Chair of Georgia’s Department of Public Health – this team of experts will be on hand to advise the company as it explores new ways of maximizing artistic potential and serving the local community, while complying with all the latest safety guidelines.

To speed up development and distribution of artistic content, The Atlanta Opera has also created a digital media department. The Company Players are instrumental in this effort.

Tomer Zvulun, The Atlanta Opera’s Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. General & Artistic Director, believes this arrangement is groundbreaking for the field. He explains:

“Saying that these recent months have been devastating to the performing arts world is an understatement. It’s time for The Atlanta Opera to step up and create a program based in our community, that’s all about belonging and giving back. Some of the best international talent in opera lives down the street from The Atlanta Opera, and these artists want to stay home, perform here safely and connect with their community. We have been dreaming of creating a European-style ‘fest model,’ and now the time is right. There are far more world-class artists based in Atlanta and the southeast than these magnificent twelve, and we only wish we could have included them all. Together we plan to present a season full of fantastic collaborations, a sense of community pride and the potential for artistic fireworks.”

Meanwhile the previously announced 2020-21 lineup will be postponed until 2021-22. Marking Atlanta’s most ambitious to date, the 2021-22 season boasts major new productions of three critically important works – Das Rheingold, The Sound of Music and The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, in its Southeast premiere – together with the Atlanta premiere of As One and revivals of beloved repertory staples The Barber of Seville and La bohème. To these will be added Madama Butterfly, originally scheduled for spring 2020, which will now be coupled with La bohème in a special Puccini Festival next fall. To read the original 2020-21 announcement, click here.

About the Atlanta Opera Company Players

Soprano Jasmine Habersham is known to The Atlanta Opera audiences for her portrayal of Edith in The Pirates of Penzance and her creation of the role of Mariola in the world premiere of the revised Out of Darkness: Two Remain. Her numerous other credits include the Glimmerglass Festival, Cincinnati Opera, Kentucky Opera, Minnesota Opera, and Utah Opera, where she was recently hailed as a “cast standout” (Opera News) as Pip in Moby Dick.

Grammy-nominated soprano Talise Trevigne made her Lyric Opera of Chicago debut last fall, before reprising her star turn as the female lead in The Atlanta Opera’s spring staging of Porgy and Bess. Besides creating key roles in the world premieres of Moby-Dick, JFK, Proving Up and It’s A Wonderful Life, she has headlined productions on both sides of the Atlantic, proving herself “a Butterfly worthy of mention alongside Maria Callas” (Voix des Arts).

Superstar mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, whose honors include the Beverly Sills Artist Award, Richard Tucker Award, first prize at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition and 2020 Personality of the Year at the BBC Music Magazine Awards, is “an artist whose time truly has come” (Opera magazine). A Georgia native, last season she made her role debut as Sister Helen Prejean in The Atlanta Opera’s celebrated Southeast premiere of Dead Man Walking.

With “a voice like polished onyx: strong, dark, deep and gleaming” (Opera News), mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack has created leading roles in the world premieres of Elizabeth Cree and JFK. She has appeared at houses including the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Los Angeles Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin and Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, as well as collaborating with orchestras including the Chicago and Boston Symphonies and the New York Philharmonic.

American-Italian mezzo-soprano Megan Marino is a “gifted actress with a strong, appealing voice graced by a rich lower register” (Opera News). Her recent credits include the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Opéra National de Paris and the Atlanta Opera, where she made her company debut as Olga in Eugene Onegin.

“One of the most naturalistic actors among opera singers,” tenor Alek Shrader “is distinguished by a simultaneous lyricism and verve” (Opera News). He has appeared at the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Bavarian State Opera and Salzburg and Glyndebourne festivals. Besides collaborating with the Cleveland Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra and Los Angeles Philharmonic, he has been presented in recital by Carnegie Hall, San Francisco Performances and London’s Wigmore Hall.

Known for his “attractive lyric tenor” and “vivid presence” (Opera Today), since winning the 2017 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, tenor and Georgia native Richard Trey Smagur has graced the stages of Houston Grand Opera, Santa Fe Opera and Wolf Trap Opera, as well as collaborating with orchestras including the National, Houston and Dallas Symphonies.

Baritone Michael Mayes, for whom “the word powerful cannot be overused” (Huffington Post), is a firm Atlanta favorite. He headlined the company’s recent hit productions of Sweeney Todd and Dead Man Walking, in which his definitive portrait of De Rocher has also wowed audiences from Washington DC to London and Madrid. He would have co-directed and starred in the Atlanta premiere of Glory Denied this spring, if the pandemic hadn’t necessitated its cancellation.

Baritone and Atlanta native Reginald Smith Jr. has “one of the most exciting baritone sounds to come along in years” (Opera News). A Grand Finals winner of the 2015 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, he launched the present season with his Metropolitan Opera debut as Jim in Porgy and Bess, before singing Jake in the Atlanta Opera production of the same opera.

“One of the finest singers of his generation” (Opera News), bass-baritone Ryan McKinny made his house and title role debuts in Dead Man Walking at Lyric Opera of Chicago last fall. Other recent highlights include Amfortas in Parsifal at Bayreuth, the European premiere of Girls of the Golden West at Dutch National Opera, multiple engagements at the Metropolitan Opera, and Das Rheingold at Opéra de Montréal, which marked his first Wotan.

Bass Kevin Burdette has appeared in The Atlanta Opera’s stagings of Dead Man Walking and The Pirates of Penzance, in which he played the Pirate King. Dubbed “the Robin Williams of opera” (New York Times), he serves on the faculty of The Atlanta Opera Studio, the company’s first young artist program, and can be heard on the Metropolitan Opera’s Grammy- and Diapason d’Or-winning Deutsche Grammophon recording of The Tempest.

Atlanta native Morris Robinson boasts a bass “so deep and assured it’s as if a vibration goes through the audience every time he opens his mouth” (Globe and Mail, Canada). Having made his Atlanta Opera debut in Aida, he returned to sing Sparafucile in Rigoletto and the male lead in Porgy and Bess, which was previously the vehicle for his acclaimed debut at La Scala. Also a familiar face at the Metropolitan Opera, he recently starred at the house as Sarastro in The Magic Flute.

About The Atlanta Opera

The Atlanta Opera’s mission is to build the major international opera company that Atlanta deserves, while reimagining what the art form can be. 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 Centre and launched the acclaimed Discoveries series. In recent years, the company has been named among the “Best of 2015” by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, has been nominated for a 2016 International Opera Award, and recently won ArtsATL’s 2019 Luminary Award for Community Engagement in recognition of its successful Veterans Program in partnership with the Home Depot Foundation. In addition, The Atlanta Opera was featured in a 2018 Harvard Business School case study about successful organizational growth, and Zvulun was invited to present a TEDx Talk at Emory University entitled “The Ambidextrous Opera Company, or Opera in the Age of iPhones.”

To download high-resolution photos, click here.

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© 21C Media Group, July 2020


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