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The Atlanta Opera Reaches “Budget One” Status for Its 2024–25 Season, Becoming One of Top Ten U.S. Opera Companies

(December 2023) — The Atlanta Opera’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce that the company will achieve “Budget One” status in 2024–25, its 45th anniversary season. By reaching the $15 million operational threshold designated by industry service agency Opera America, The Atlanta Opera joins the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Washington National Opera and the opera companies of Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Fe and Seattle as one of just ten top-tier, Budget One opera companies among the 180-plus opera companies in the United States.

Citing ten years of steady growth, Rhys Wilson, Chair of the Board of Directors for The Atlanta Opera, says:

“General & Artistic Director Tomer Zvulun was selected to lead The Atlanta Opera in 2013 and he immediately went to work innovating and celebrating the art of opera in our city. We’ve created new ways of thinking about opera and supporting the next generation of creatives, artists and audiences through our programs. Strong fundraising efforts and tight spending controls have stabilized the financial structure of the company while the caliber of the productions and the artists, both singers and musicians, has increased. We found a way to continue producing opera safely through the pandemic, which allowed us to keep our staff, donors and patrons; to provide needed jobs to more than 150 artists; and to raise our profile internationally. As a result, for the last eight seasons, we have operated in the black.”

Community support for The Atlanta Opera has grown steadily over the past ten years, including during the pandemic. Innovative programs, strategic partnerships, audience development, skillful fundraising and careful increases in the investment made to produce top quality productions have all paid off in the steady growth of ticket sales, fundraising and the company’s reputation as an industry leader. The Atlanta Opera is especially proud of its “96-Hour Opera Festival,” which provides a forum for composers and librettists from underrepresented groups to tell their stories through the power of opera.

Tomer Zvulun, Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. General & Artistic Director of The Atlanta Opera, says:

“As I start my second decade in a city that has become a real home for me and my family, it heartens me that, after 45 years, this thriving, major international city is finally getting the major international opera company it deserves. This encouraging moment, at a time of great bleakness internationally, is a testament to the determination of so many staff and board members, donors and community leaders. Working alongside these people has been one of the greatest honors of my life.”

Over the course of its ten years under Zvulun’s leadership, The Atlanta Opera has tripled its budget. Among its many notable achievements, the company has brought opera to the wider Atlanta community through performances at a broad array of venues; partnerships with other leading Atlanta performing arts and educational organizations such as Morehouse College and the Alliance Theatre; and dynamic new productions of both popular repertory and important contemporary works, often presented in Atlanta-led co-productions with other major companies. These include Paul Moravec’s The Shining, Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, Kevin Puts’s Silent Night, Mason Bates’s [R]evolution of Steve Jobs and Wagner’s Das Rheingold, which launched the Southeast’s first “Ring” cycle to date. During the pandemic, when many arts organizations throughout the world were forced to put their work on hold, the company gave 40 live performances in its “Big Tent” series and created The Atlanta Opera Film Studio to bring its work to an international audience. Recognizing the company’s achievements and commitment to innovation, BBC Music magazine observed: “Whoever said opera is a museum culture hasn’t told Atlanta Opera.” Similarly, PBS Newshour spotlighted The Atlanta Opera in a TV broadcast feature story about those performing arts organizations that succeeded in adapting to the serious challenges posed by the pandemic.

Key areas of growth have included renewed excellence in mainstage production and the expansion of repertory and new works; of education, community and industry partnerships; of commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI); of audience development and engagement; and of organizational infrastructure.

Key initiatives and honors

2015: Launched “Discoveries” series (expanding repertory, community partnerships)
2016: Launched Studio Young Artists program (education and industry partnerships)
2017: Nominated for an International Opera Award
2017: Launched Veterans’ free ticket program (community partnerships, audience development)
2018: Was subject of Harvard Business Review case study in successful organizational growth
2018: Tomer Zvulun invited to present TEDx talk on “Innovation in Opera”
2020: Launched The Atlanta Opera Podcast series (audience development, education partnerships)
2020: Launched “Come as You Are” festival (audience development and engagement)
2020: Launched “Big Tent” events (all areas)
2020: Launched The Atlanta Opera Film Studio (education and industry partnerships, audience development and
2020: Launched Virtual Education Tour (education and industry partnerships)
2021: Launched “45 by 45” fundraising campaign (organizational infrastructure)
2022: Launched “96-Hour Opera Festival” (industry partnerships, EDI, audience development)
2023: Launched “Ring” cycle with production of Wagner’s Das Rheingold (all areas)
2023: Nominated for an International Opera Award

Still to come in The Atlanta Opera’s 2023–24 season are Puccini’s classic masterpiece La bohème (Jan 20–28); a new production of Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (March 2–10); Wagner’s Die Walküre, the second installment in the company’s first “Ring” cycle (April 27–May 5); and the third annual 96-Hour Opera Festival (June 14–17).

The Atlanta Opera’s Immediate Past Board Chair Cathy Callaway Adams says:

“As an art form that delivers complex and compelling storytelling, opera – and especially the productions of The Atlanta Opera – resonates deeply and intimately with audiences. We are dedicated to making a space for many stories and voices to be heard. The future work of The Atlanta Opera will continue to inspire community, break barriers and celebrate the power of our human connections.”

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 has expanded from three to four mainstage productions at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre and launched both the acclaimed “Discoveries” series and the innovative “96-Hour Opera Festival.” In recent years, the company has been named among the “Best of 2015” by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, has been nominated for both a 2016 and a 2023 International Opera Award, and 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 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 fewer than 40 live performances in two different outdoor venues, including a revolutionary custom-designed circus tent. The fundraising goal was tripled, and four new productions were created, each of which employed 150 cast and crew members and staff. The critically acclaimed productions and concerts were streamed in high definition on the newly created streaming platform “Atlanta Opera Film Studio,” allowing 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. For more information, visit

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© 21C Media Group, December 2023


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