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The Atlanta Opera Pilots New “Singing Telegrams” Program for Frontline Workers and Others in Local Community

The Atlanta Opera is launching a new community program to create personal connections with those most at-risk, lonely or simply in need of human interaction during the current pandemic. Members of both The Atlanta Opera Chorus and The Atlanta Opera Studio, the company’s young artists program, are recording personalized “Singing Telegrams” for frontline healthcare workers, hospital patients, members of senior living communities and others in need of emotional support at this challenging time. By sharing a short aria or the recipient’s favorite song, the artists hope to make a small but positive impact on each person’s day. The program piloted this week in partnership with Lenbrook, one of Atlanta’s independent senior living facilities, and will expand over the coming weeks, when recipients will include doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers actively combatting COVID-19 at Georgia’s largest hospital, the Grady Health System. Meanwhile the opera company’s costume shop – already designated an “essential service” by the city of Atlanta – continues working with Grady to make vital medical mask covers, and has started making hospital gowns as well. Click here to see one of The Atlanta Opera’s first Singing Telegrams.

Atlanta Opera Singing Telegrams” is the brainchild of the organization’s new Community Service Task Force, which represents all areas of the opera house from production to marketing. Jessica Kiger, The Atlanta Opera’s task force chair and Director of Community Engagement & Education, explains:

The Atlanta Opera Studio Artists were looking for ways to continue to use their voices to uplift during this tough time. We’re excited about these micro-victories that create community and connect to our mission. It’s a very hopeful, personal program that should bring a little joy during this period of anxiety.”

Lindsay Caulfield, Chief Experience Officer of Atlanta’s Grady Health System, comments:

“During this time of crisis, we are continuously amazed at the outpouring of kindness for our staff. The Atlanta Opera singing telegrams are a wonderful gift that will truly lift the spirits of those on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Bernie Goldstein, a Lenbrook resident and chair of the senior community’s Friends of the Arts Committee, responds:

“The telegrams provided these lovely, potent sounds, like hearing a rainbow! Listening to The Atlanta Opera Studio Artists takes your troubles away, even if just for a little while. It fills you with hope and good feelings.”

The Atlanta Opera’s medical mask and gown initiative

The Atlanta Opera has already been recognized as a model for innovation during the COVID-19 crisis. As reported by Opera Wire and the Associated Press, for the past four weeks the company’s costume shop has been dedicated to the full-time mass-manufacture of medical masks for health-care workers on the frontline. Created by Costume Director Joanna Schmink in partnership with Atlanta’s Grady Health System, each mask is designed to cover an N95 respirator mask and so prolong its usable life. To help fulfil the initial request for 72,000 masks, numerous Atlanta Opera staff members stepped up to the plate, supplementing the costume shop’s work by crafting masks in their own homes. Now set up in accordance with the latest social-distancing guidelines, the costume shop itself remains adaptive to community needs, and has branched out into making hospital gowns, which are also in short supply. As The Atlanta Opera’s Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. General & Artistic Director Tomer Zvulun has said:

“This is a time of great need for the medical community and the community at large. The question that we ask ourselves is no longer ‘How can we save our productions?’ but ‘How can we help save lives?’”

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 Atlanta Opera celebrates its 40th anniversary this season. 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 has 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.”

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© 21C Media Group, April 2020


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