Three weeks before its much-anticipated opening, the two-story brick building at 1150 Peachtree St. that is now called Opera is very much under construction. Most of the fixtures still need paint. Plywood and detritus is strewn everywhere. Even the sidewalk outside the club needs cement.
Rachael Pryor, the club's marketing director, promises Opera will be ready in time for its planned June 8, grand opening. "It seems like a bigger mess than it is, but it's a controlled chaos," says Pryor, who is recuperating from surgery on her foot and carefully hobbles around the site on crutches. "All of our teams are working 24 hours a day. When one team stops, another team moves in."
Formerly known as Eleven50, the building has been shuttered since New Year's Eve. Back then its owners, a group led by Tim Muir, announced they were closing the nightclub for renovations. Soon afterward, they switched the club's name to Opera. A teaser flier on the old Eleven50 MySpace page (www.myspace.com/eleven50) featured a mask strangely reminiscent of Phantom of the Opera tagged with girls' phone numbers. It symbolized the club's new image: classy, upscale and irreverent.
"Opera is very different from Eleven50," Pryor says. "Everyone is of the mind-set to take quality service in a quality environment, and set the bar for quality, exclusiveness and service in a nightclub experience in Atlanta where everybody can feel like a part of the action."
The Opera concept – designed by co-owner Terry Barbu – is being executed through $2.5 million in improvements, Pryor says. A handful of VIP booths that look like authentic opera boxes have been built on the second level. An adjoining cabana is being restructured as a separate room that can hold separate events. (In addition to being a nightclub, the building also hosts corporate and private functions as the Atlanta Event Center.)
Most importantly, Pryor adds, "The venue itself was worn out. It needed tons of repairs. This is an old historic building built in the 1920s. It needed some love."
Opera arrives at a unique time in Midtown nightlife. Vision, once a major competitor, is long gone. Club 112 closes its doors June 9, a day after Opera opens. (According to a press release, Club 112 will soon reopen in a new location.) Although still surrounded by smaller hot spots such as CosmoLava, Opera is one of the few Midtown superclubs left.
Pryor won't say whether Opera plans to capitalize on Club 112's departure by pursuing the hip-hop bottles-and-models crowd. But she acknowledges that she wants Opera to be known as more than a place for dance music. "A lot of people perceived [Eleven50] as a techno club," she says. "We had a great run of a wide range of music. ... Some of the best hip-hop acts in the world have performed on our stage. Ludacris, Busta Rhymes, you name it. We want to continue to do that."
When it opens, however, Opera will return to Eleven50's former strengths. On Fridays, DJ Ruckus and Kevin Dispain will spin dance music in the main room, and pop radio station Q100-FM will do a live remote from the club.
Saturdays will feature the return of Bill Kaelin's Saturday Night Standard. (Once employed at Eleven50, Kaelin now co-owns Bazzaar). Prince Presto will spin on the main floor. "[Presto's] one of the ultimate mashup creators as far as DJs are concerned," Pryor says. DJ Chris Grass and percussionist Michaelangelo Wolf, collectively known as Soul Shape, will play house and nu jazz on the patio.
And what about DJ Rachael? Once a resident DJ at Eleven50, Pryor now spins at Bazzaar on Saturdays and Halo Lounge on Mondays. Save for the occasional special event, however, she won't be a resident at the new Opera. "I don't have time," she says.
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