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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Atlanta Opera announces 2012-2013 season

There were no betting tables set up outside the Atlanta Opera headquarters in advance of their 2012-2013 season announcement event last evening, but if there had been, Creative Loafing would have won big.

We would have placed lots of money on the chance that a production of Carmen features prominently in the new season. It's one of the most popular of all operas, and it hasn't been performed by the AO since 2004, and that was at the (shudder) Civic Center. Atlanta's ready for another production, we figured. Imagine our self-congratulatory satisfaction at being proved totally right when Atlanta Opera General Manager Dennis Hanthorn unveiled the first show of the season: Carmen. AO owns a traditional production, and it will be at the Cobb Energy Centre in early November. Debuting with The Atlanta Opera is mezzo-soprano Maria José Montiel, who will be singing the role of Carmen. Mexican tenor Fernando de la Mora returns to the Atlanta Opera stage to take the role of Don José.

We felt like we'd picked the Powerball when Hanthorn moved on to unveil the second opera of the season: La Traviata. It was 1998 when Atlanta Opera did its last Traviata, and we figured that was a pretty safe bet, too. AO likewise owns a traditional production which will run at Cobb Energy in March of 2013. In her Atlanta Opera debut, soprano Mary Dunleavy will be singing the role of Violetta, and playing Alfredo is Russian tenor Boris Rudak, in his American and Atlanta Opera debut.

Unfortunately, we could never have won the Mega Millions jackpot by getting a full match. Hanthorn stood in front of the last poster before unveiling the title, dropping the tantalizing hint that the Atlanta Opera had never performed the work before. We didn't really have a good guess: we figured it might be a popular show but not a monumental blockbuster on the Traviata level:. Adriana Lecouvreur came to mind.

Imagine our surprise when he announced the last opera in the season as L'Italiana in Algeri. Tricky, Dennis. It's hard to believe AO has never performed this popular and appealing comic opera by Rossini. The production is set in the 1930s (Isabella is an aviatrix), and the show was originally designed for the Santa Fe Opera. Singing the role of Isabella is mezzo-soprano Sandra Piques Eddy. Tenor Michele Angelini as Lindoro debuts with The Atlanta Opera, as does Turkish bass Burak Bilgili, who will be performing the role of MustafĂ . The production will round out the season at the end of April, beginning of May of 2013.

The season's theme "Escape the Ordinary" is taken from the shows' exotic and romantic settings: Seville, Paris, and Algiers. All three shows feature smart, spirited female leads, and in L'Italiana, the heroine actually gets to survive the goings-on. We still think Adriana Lecouvreur might have made an interesting choice for the final opera of the season, but we're guessing the marketing department would have advised against the theme "A Season of Death: Stab! Cough! Sniff!" Either way, it's still a safe bet that 2012-2013 will be a fun one to follow. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the Atlanta Opera.

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