Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Atlanta Opera announces 2012-2013 season

Posted By on Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 11:05 AM

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.

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Veruca Salt sings out in opera version of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"

Posted By on Mon, Feb 27, 2012 at 7:57 PM

I WANT ONE: Veruca Salt (mezzo-soprano Abigail Nims) demands an Oompa-Loompa from Willy Wonka (Daniel Okulitch) in a rehearsal for The Golden Ticket at Atlanta Opera headquarters. All of the famous characters from Roald Dahls Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will come to life in the new opera based on the classic childrens book. The show opens Saturday, March 3, at the Cobb Energy Centre.
  • I WANT ONE: Veruca Salt (mezzo-soprano Abigail Nims) demands an Oompa-Loompa from Willy Wonka (Daniel Okulitch) in a rehearsal for "The Golden Ticket" at Atlanta Opera headquarters. All of the famous characters from Roald Dahl's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" will come to life in the new opera based on the classic children's book. The show opens Saturday, March 3, at the Cobb Energy Centre.
Gluttonous Augustus Gloop. Gum-chewing Violet Beauregarde. Television-addicted Mike Teavee... The child-grotesques from Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are legendary, but perhaps none more so than our own personal favorite: bratty, tantrum-throwing, 90s-band-inspiring diva-in-training Veruca Salt.

Creative Loafing caught up with mezzo-soprano Abigail Nims who plays Veruca in the Atlanta Opera's production of The Golden Ticket, the new operatic version of Dahl's beloved children's story which opens at the Cobb Energy Center on Saturday, March 3, to get the low-down on playing the ultimate diva.

An opera based on "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" seems likely to draw a lot of people who don't normally go to the opera: fans of the book, fans of the films, kids dragged there by their parents. Is it an opera that can appeal to non-opera fans?
I think that's exactly what it is. Being an opera singer I'm so used to coming in to various cities and people asking what opera I'm performing in: I tell them and then the conversation stops immediately. But when I tell them I'm performing The Golden Ticket based on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, their faces just light up and they say, "Hmm. Maybe I should go see that. I've never been to an opera." I think it's absolutely perfect for people who have never been to the opera before. It's in English, and it's a story everyone knows. It incorporates so much of the book, and visually it's a fabulous production. The costumes and sets are wonderful. It's a richly varied score musically. The music is complicated, but the beauty of it is that it doesn't sound that way to the audience. It's quite accessible music with a lot of beautiful melodies. There's a lot of variety in that the characters all have their own musical language.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

24-Hour Opera Project showcases "instant operas"

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2012 at 1:32 PM

Participants in last years 24-Hour Opera Project spot an arts critic in the second balcony.
  • Participants in last year's 24-Hour Opera Project spot a critic in the second balcony.
How long do you think it would take you to write an opera? A year? Two? Maybe three? What if you had to write one with a complete stranger in 24 hours?

Contestants selected to compete in the Atlanta Opera's 24-Hour Opera Project this weekend will have to do just that. Composers and lyricists from Atlanta and across the country will converge this weekend for the contest, now in its second year. Paired randomly, they'll have exactly 24 hours to compose, stage, and rehearse a 10-minute opera.

The kick-off event takes place on Friday, January 20, at 5 pm at the First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta, 1328 Peachtree Street. Participating composers and lyricists will be randomly paired together, and then they'll have exactly 12 hours to write an opera scene. At the end of 12 hours, the pieces will be assigned to a stage director, who will draft singers from a pool of applicants, and with the remaining 8 hours the scene will be rehearsed before being presented in a showcase-concert exactly 24 hours after the project begins.

The big performance of the operas takes place on Saturday, January 21, at 7 pm at The Atlanta Opera Center, 1575 Northside Drive, Bldg. 300, Suite 350 at 7 pm. The event is open to the public and free of charge, and you can also tune in to a live webcast at atlantaopera.org and even vote for “Audience Favorite” via Twitter (@TheAtlantaOpera) or Facebook.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Atlanta Opera's "Lucia di Lammermoor" pulls out all the stops for one more weekend

Posted By on Fri, Nov 18, 2011 at 11:05 AM

LAST CALL: Soprano Georgia Jarman will play the role of Lucia in Atlanta Operas production of Lucia di Lammermoor in two more performances before the holidays set in.
  • Tim Wilkerson
  • LAST CALL: Soprano Georgia Jarman will play the role of Lucia in Atlanta Opera's production of "Lucia di Lammermoor" in two more performances before the holidays set in.
The Atlanta Opera is entering its final weekend of performances of Lucia di Lammermoor, and if you've ever wondered, “Hey, what's the big fuss about all this opera stuff anyway?!” Lucia is the show that will clue you in. Here's what the fuss is about: Gorgeous voices, awesome sets, amazing music, and outrageous drama. Lucia pulls out all the stops and creates one of Atlanta's most glamorous, romantic, and exciting nights at the theater in ages.

Lucia di Lammermoor tells the Romeo and Juliet-like story of a young girl in Scotland who falls in love with a mystery man who turns out to be from a rival family. Her brother tricks her into marrying the rich groom he's picked out for her, and their wedding night ends up as, well, something of a bloody mess. Donizetti's famous bel canto score has a drive and beauty that keep the tension at a constant boil, and Erhard Rom's set designs for the Atlanta production have a wonderful cinematic flare with a suggestive and totally original hint of Southern Gothic. Soprano Georgia Jarman's voice, though she's new to the role, is up to the hefty task, and she isn't afraid to show off some impressive vocal gymnastics when they're called for. Baritone Stephen Powell as Lucia's brother Enrico and bass Arthur Woodley as the chaplain Raimondo are standouts in the cast, and the chorus and orchestra sound polished, supple and lively.

If you crave original, transportive and dramatic performances, get to the show this weekend. Think of it as "last call." 2011 is all Sugar Plum Fairies and Tiny Tims from here on out.

The Atlanta Opera performs Donizetti's “Lucia di Lammermoor” on Friday, November 18, at 8 pm and Sunday, November 20 at 3 pm at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit Atlanta Opera.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Atlanta Opera brings on opera's bloodiest bride

Posted By on Thu, Oct 27, 2011 at 12:13 PM

BRIDEZILLA: A reveler at the Little Five Points Halloween Parade shows her enthusiasm for the up-coming Atlanta Opera production of “Lucia di Lammermoor” by dressing up as the title character. World-renowned soprano Georgia Jarman will don a similar costume when she sings the role of Lucia at the Cobb Energy Center starting November 12.
  • Joeff Davis
  • BRIDEZILLA: A reveler at the Little Five Points Halloween Parade shows her enthusiasm for the up-coming Atlanta Opera production of "Lucia di Lammermoor" by dressing up as the title character. Soprano Georgia Jarman will don a similar costume when she sings the role of Lucia at the Cobb Energy Center starting November 12.
A haunted castle. A bitter feud. An innocent girl driven mad. A wedding dress covered in blood.

No, this isn't the backstory to Netherworld. It's actually what's going on right now in the rehearsal rooms of the Atlanta Opera. As Halloween approaches, the AO is busy preparing for up-coming performances of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, opening Saturday, November 12. We caught up with Houston-based soprano Georgia Jarman who will play Lucia to chat about the slightly creepy task of taking on the role of opera's maddest and most murderous bride.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Atlanta Opera commissions children's opera based on the tales of Br'er Rabbit

Posted By on Wed, Oct 26, 2011 at 12:22 PM

The Atlanta Operas newly-commissioned opera Rabbit Tales will have its world premiere at the Wrens Nest on October 29.
  • The Atlanta Opera's newly-commissioned opera "Rabbit Tales" will have its world premiere at the Wren's Nest on October 29.
The Atlanta Opera has commissioned its first opera, a one-hour work for children that will tour Atlanta schools starting this fall. Rabbit Tales is based on the Joel Chandler Harris collections of the stories of Br'er Rabbit and will have its world premiere with a free performance at Harris' historic home, the Wren's Nest in West Atlanta, on the afternoon of Saturday, October 29.

The work is the brainchild of Atlanta Opera's Director of Education Emmalee Iden who wanted to have an original work the company could use to bring opera to area school children. The task of writing the libretto fell to Atlanta playwright Madeleine St. Romain, who says she used the opportunity to explore some of the lesser known Br'er Rabbit tales and to incorporate a number of rabbit fables from around the world. “The Rabbit trickster is a common African story motif and folk hero,” she says. “That's where the Br'er Rabbit stories come from.” The new work—which features several stories within a larger framework—utilizes tales from African, Cajun, Native American, and French-European traditions.

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Friday, April 8, 2011

New Atlanta resident Jennifer Holloway plays Dorabella in AO's production of Mozart's Così Fan Tutte

Posted By on Fri, Apr 8, 2011 at 10:17 AM

World-renowned mezzo-Soprano Jennifer Holloway is a new Atlanta resident.
  • Dario Acosta
  • World-renowned mezzo-soprano Jennifer Holloway is a new Atlanta resident.
Zipping around the globe to play roles on the various stages of the world is just part of the job for most opera singers. But Jennifer Holloway—whose work normally takes her to Paris, New York, LA, Madrid, Italy, often for months at a time—will have the unusual luxury of not having to travel far at all for her next part. The acclaimed mezzo, a new resident of the Atlanta area since July 2010, is taking on the part of Dorabella in the Atlanta Opera's current production of Mozart's Così Fan Tutte. While most of her co-stars will be flying in from points distant for rehearsals and for Così's two week run, Holloway will just be driving in from Lawrenceville. We caught up with the mezzo to talk about her new home, Mozart's feminism, and who really has the best coffee in midtown.

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Friday, February 25, 2011

After blazing through the City of Light, The Atlanta Opera brings "Porgy" back home

Posted By on Fri, Feb 25, 2011 at 9:38 AM

The Atlanta Opera chorus taking a first glimpse of the stage at the historic Opéra Comique, where they performed in Porgy and Bess in 2008.
  • Laura English-Robinson
  • The Atlanta Opera chorus taking a first glimpse of the historic Opéra Comique in Paris, where they performed in "Porgy and Bess" in 2008.
Over the next two weekends, the Atlanta Opera will stage Porgy and Bess at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center. It's a special production for many reasons, but perhaps most of all because members of the Atlanta Opera chorus are reviving the crucial role they played in a production of Porgy at Paris' renowned Opéra Comique in 2008. In short, Atlanta audiences will have the opportunity to hear a performance like those that thrilled Parisian audiences on one of Europe's most prestigious stages, right here at home. No plane ticket required.

In 2005, the Atlanta Opera chorus caught the attention of directors at Paris' Opéra Comique, and the chorus was asked to participate in that theater's production of Porgy and Bess in 2008. Although individual opera singers routinely travel the world performing on various stages as a part of their job, an entire chorus touring for an opera is relatively rare. Nonetheless, directors at the Opéra Comique felt so strongly about the Atlanta Opera chorus they deemed it worthwhile to bring the entire crew over to Paris. The cast shared suites at a hotel in the 11th Arrondissement for six weeks while they rehearsed and performed at Paris' historic Opéra Comique theater, one of the most famous opera stages in the world.

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Atlanta Opera receives $9 million gift

Posted By on Thu, Feb 17, 2011 at 3:50 PM

The Atlanta Opera has announced that it will be the recipient of a $9 million bequest from longtime board member Barbara D. Stewart. The gift is the largest in the Atlanta Opera's history, and among the largest single donations ever made to a North American opera company.

The AO knew since Stewart's death in December of 2010 at the age of 67 that they had been bequeathed in some way, but only found out this morning about the enormous generosity of the gift. “There are hardly words to express the gratitude and appreciation we feel at this moment,” said general director of The Atlanta Opera Dennis Hanthorn. “This gift is truly humbling.”

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Atlanta Opera to bring on Willy Wonka next season

Posted By on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 4:22 AM

  • © 2010 TOKY Branding + Design.
The Atlanta Opera held a press conference yesterday to announce its 2011-2012 season (2010-2011, we hardly knew ya?). It all looks fantastic, but we're especially intrigued by plans for a production of The Golden Ticket, an opera version of Roald Dahl's children's book Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. The production has a score by American composer Peter Ash (who will also conduct the AO orchestra for the show) and will use tons of high-tech video projections for the special effects.

All the familiar elements of the classic story will be there: the chocolate river, a chorus of Oompah-Loompahs, Willy Wonka, Mike Teavee, Veruca Salt (the ultimate diva?), Violet Beauregard, Augustus Gloop. Most of the golden ticket winners are played by adults, but AO Director Dennis Hanthorn says that a nationwide search will be conducted for a child singer to play Charlie (Wow, life really does imitate art).

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