Press Room

Tomer Zvulun and The Atlanta Opera Close 2021-22 Season with “Come As You Are” Festival, Celebrating Pride Month at Atlanta’s Pullman Yards

(May 2022)— The Atlanta Opera – “one of the most exciting opera companies in America” (Opera Wire) – brings its 2021-22 season to a close at Atlanta’s recently renovated former industrial site Pullman Yards with its “Come As You Are” festival, featuring a new production of the blockbuster musical Cabaret (June 2–19) performed in repertoire with the critically acclaimed chamber opera As One (June 9 & 11). The two productions, staged during Pride Month, are brought together in this festival to emphasize the dangers of a society that scapegoats anyone currently defined as “the other.” A special Saturday matinee also features Atlanta Opera favorite Jay Hunter Morris in a cabaret-style concert (June 18). Tickets for Cabaret and As One are on sale now, starting at $20 for standing-room-only tickets and ranging to $250 for premium cabaret tables in the Kit Kat Club itself. Both Cabaret and As One will be performed in English.

The “Come As You Are” festival builds on the company’s extremely successful Discoveries Series, which has a decade-long tradition of bringing bold and adventurous works to unexpected locations throughout metro Atlanta, and which, according to company estimates, accounts for half of its new audience members. When the pandemic forced a reassessment of the 2020-21 season, it was the Discoveries Series that provided the inspiration for the development of the Big Tent, custom built out of the necessity to keep audiences, performers and crew safe, but, in the end, popular beyond all expectation. Pullman Yards, the newest venue for the Discoveries Series, is a historic property spanning 27 acres that has been at the forefront of technology and innovation since it was originally built in 1904. Today it serves as the backdrop of major motion pictures, television shows and renowned art exhibitions, and an emerging culinary scene.

Carl W. Knobloch Jr. General and Artistic Director Tomer Zvulun explains:

“There’s a different kind of electricity between singers and audience when you are in an unexpected space. That is the essence of the Discoveries SeriesPullman Yards offers us not only a historic, raw space that would be ideal for Cabaret’s Kit Kat Club, but also provides us an opportunity to reach out to a community and a neighborhood we have never interacted with. We have made it our mission at The Atlanta Opera to truly be embedded in the fabric of this city, and our residence in Pullman Yards is another testament to that commitment. Beyond that, we are deeply committed to telling a wide range of stories on our stages, and conceived the ‘Come As You Are’ Festival to underline a critically important goal of all art: to increase empathy and stress our common humanity. Whether it is the Jewish characters in Cabaret in Nazi-era Germany, or a transgender person facing discrimination and hostility in contemporary America, we put our own civil society at peril when we identify people who are different from us as ‘the other.’”


The Atlanta Opera’s production of Cabaret is adapted from the 1998 Broadway revival that ran for more than 2,377 performances at Studio 54 in New York City. Zvulun will direct this entirely new production, embracing the gritty atmosphere of the Pullman Yards pavilion. Francesco Milioto, who serves as music director of OPERA San Antonio, artistic advisor to Milwaukee’s Florentine Opera and recently conducted The Atlanta Opera’s The Threepenny Opera and The Pirates of Penzance, will be on the podium. Award-winning set designer Alexander Dodge will transform a portion of the historic building into the Kit Kat Klub, a decadent cabaret where singer Sally Bowles entertained Berlin’s elite in the 1930s. The costumer will be Erik Teague, who designed the whimsical costumes for The Threepenny Opera; Marcy Barbeau, like Teague a veteran of the Big Tent Series, will design the lighting.

Equally capable in opera houses and on Broadway, Curt Olds – recently seen in the role of Major General Stanley in The Atlanta Opera’s The Pirates of Penzance – will sing the role of the flamboyant Emcee. Hailed by Opera News as “a wonderful singing actor, as adept in pointing dialogue as in phrasing song,” Olds has been featured in productions ranging from Don Pasquale and The Magic Flute to the musicals A Little Night Music, The Threepenny Opera and Riverdance.

Atlanta Opera newcomer Aja Goes, praised by the Chicago Tribune as “glamorous” with a “creamy belt,” will sing the role of English chanteuse Sally Bowles. A versatile actor, singer, and dancer, Goes wowed Chicago audiences in Million Dollar Quartet as Dyanne, the elegant, sultry jazz singer who accompanies Elvis Presley to Sun Records’ historic 1956 recording session.

Actor and tenor Anthony Laciura will sing the role of Herr Schultz, the elderly fruit shop owner. With more than 800 performances at the Metropolitan Opera, Laciura has taken his operatic skills around the world, singing supporting roles in many of the best-known operas in the canon including The Marriage of Figaro, The Magic Flute, Carmen, Turandot and Falstaff.  From 2010 to 2013 he was seen in the HBO television series Boardwalk Empire as butler Eddie Kessler.

As One

The “Come As You Are” festival also presents the Atlanta premiere of the critically acclaimed chamber opera As One by Laura Kaminsky, “one of the top 35 female composers in classical music” (Washington Post); librettist Mark Campbell; and transgender filmmaker-librettist Kimberly Reed. Two singers – mezzo-soprano and baritone – share the piece’s sole role of Hannah, the opera’s transgender protagonist. Kaminsky’s music is set to a libretto by Campbell and Reed, one of Filmmaker magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film,” who also created the multimedia opera’s film. Opera News declared it to be “a piece that haunts and challenges its audience with questions about identity, authenticity, compassion and the human desire for self-love and peace,” and As One has become – since its 2014 world premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music – the most-produced modern opera in America.

Director Stephanie Havey has staged new works with Opera Philadelphia for their “Double Exposure” event and OPERA America’s New Works Forum, and is in her fourth season of developing new works as the Resident Stage Director for North American New Opera Workshop. Her production is distinguished by being less focused on the before and after aspects of the character and more focused on the continuity, the idea that she was always Hannah regardless of superficial characteristics. Conductor Alexandra Enyart – called “one of Chicago’s greatest operatic gifts” (Chicago Theatre Review) and a transgender conductor who strives to create a more equitable and diverse musical world – has served as a Chicago Sinfonietta Fellow and as a “Turn the Spotlight” fellow (paired with Chicago Opera Theater music director Lidiya Yankovskaya). Erik Teague, host of The Atlanta Opera Podcast’s Come As You Are series and transgender man, will design the costumes.

Transgender baritone Lucia Lucas will sing the role of Hannah. Recognized as a “rising star” (The Guardian) with “a voice that can rattle the rafters with its power, without ever sacrificing subtlety of expression” (Tulsa World), Lucas became the first trans woman to sing a principal opera role on an American stage in 2019, singing the title role in Don Giovanni with Tulsa Opera. That performance was also the subject of James Kicklighter’s feature-length documentary The Sound of Identity.

American mezzo-soprano Blythe Gaissert shares the role of Hannah, a role she has sung in eight previous productions. Known for her warm tone, powerful stage presence, and impeccable musicianship and technical prowess, Gaissert is “impossible to ignore” (Denver Post). When she sang the role at New York City Opera, Broadway World admired her “rich, earthy voice and dramatic skills.”

Special Cabaret Concert with Jay Hunter Morris

A matinee concert on June 18 features internationally acclaimed tenor and raconteur Jay Hunter Morris. Best known for stepping in to the title role of Richard Wagner’s Siegfried just three days before its Metropolitan Opera premiere as part of Robert Lepage’s famous Ring cycle, the self-described “redneck opera zinger” is also familiar to Atlanta Opera audiences from 2017’s Flying Dutchman – in which he sang the title role – and 2021’s The Threepenny Opera.

About The Atlanta Opera

The Atlanta Opera’s mission is to build the major international opera company that Atlanta deserves, while reimagining what opera 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 Performing Arts 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 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 less 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, crew and staff. The critically acclaimed productions and concerts were streamed in HD on the newly created streaming platform “Spotlight Media,” 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

To download high-resolution photos, click here.

Atlanta Opera: “Come As You Are” festival
All performances take place at Pullman Yards

June 2, 3, 5, 10, 12m, 16, 17, 19m
Book by Joe Masteroff
Based on the play by John Van Druten and stories by Christopher Isherwood
Music by John Kander
Lyrics by Fred Ebb
Originally co-directed and choreographed by Rob Marshall
Originally Directed by Sam Mendes

Conductor: Francesco Milioto
Director: Tomer Zvulun
Set design: Alexander Dodge
Costume design: Erik Teague
Lighting design: Marcy Barbeau

Curt Olds: Emcee
Anthony Laciura: Herr Schultz
Aja Goes: Sally Bowles

Tickets $20-250

June 9 & 11
As One: A chamber opera for two voices and string quartet
Music & Concept by Laura Kaminsky
Libretto by Mark Campbell & Kimberly Reed
Filmmaker: Kimberly Reed

By arrangement with Bill Holab Music

As One was commissioned and developed by American Opera Projects (AOP)

Conductor: Alexandra Enyart
Director: Stephanie Havey
Costume design: Erik Teague

Lucia Lucas: Hannah
Blythe Gaissert: Hannah

Tickets $20-250

June 18
Jay Hunter Morris
In concert

Tickets: $20-250

© 21C Media Group, May 2022


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