TOSCA, FAUST and THE BARBER OF SEVILLE Set for Atlanta Opera's 2013-14 Season


The Atlanta Opera, one of the nation's finest regional opera companies enriching lives through the power of opera, yesterday announced its 2013-2014 season. The season opens with Tosca in October 2013, followed by Gounod's Faust in March 2014, and concludes with The Barber of Seville in April and May 2014. All performances will take place at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.

Also announced were the 2013-2014 community engagement initiatives, including the High School Opera Institute, the fourth annual 24-Hour Opera Project , a Student Short of the opera Tosca; and the details of the 2013 Atlanta Opera Ball: Puccini's Palazzo, a fundraiser supporting and sustaining the exceptional artistic quality of The Atlanta Opera. The 2013-2014 season will be the first under the helm of the Atlanta Opera's new general director expected to be named in April 2013.

The season leads off with Giacomo Puccini's Tosca (October 5, 8, 11, 13, 2013). A melodramma in three acts created after Victorien Sardou's play La Tosca which debuted in 1900, Tosca is an opera full of lies, lust, and corruption that turn a tale of love into a struggle for survival. Amid the bloodshed of revolutionary Rome, the diva Tosca becomes trapped between her allegiance to her rebel lover, Cavaradossi, and the scheming of a treacherous police chief, Scarpia, who will stop at nothing in his lust for her. Set to Puccini's intensely passionate music, this gripping melodrama is quintessential opera and presents the composer's most varied and interesting soprano role. Tosca will be performed in Italian with projectEd English translations.

Soprano Kara Shay Thomson will be making her debut with The Atlanta Opera as Floria Tosca, a role she has sung more than 75 times. The Cincinnati Enquirer wrote, "... Kara Shay Thomson was the most exciting debut of the season; she projected an alluring presence and a luxuriant lyric voice that remained smooth all the way to her powerhouse top notes." The tenor role of Mario Cavaradossi will be sung by Massimiliano Pisapia in his United States debut. Baritone Mark Delavan performs the role of Baron Scarpia, which he performed previously with The Atlanta Opera in 1997 at The Fox Theatre. Delavan has sung to great acclaim all three roles of Wotan in Wagner's Ring Cycle and will perform the role again this April with The Metropolitan Opera. Delavan has been seen on the Atlanta Opera stage as Amonasro in 2010's Aida and as The Dutchman in 2009's The Flying Dutchman. The conductor of Tosca is the Atlanta Opera's Carl and Sally Gable Music Director Arthur Fagen.

Tomer Zvulun will be returning to The Atlanta Opera as stage director for Tosca. Zvulun has previously directed The Flying Dutchman, The Magic Flute, and, most recently, Lucia di Lammermoor, on the Atlanta Opera stage. The New York Times praised one of his recent operas for its, "witty, fast-paced staging and the director's Felliniesque style."

In March, The Atlanta Opera will present Charles Gounod's Faust (March 8, 11, 14, 16, 2014). Faust is a grand opéra and first premiered in Paris in 1859. Gounod's operatic retelling of the famous legend, loosely based on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's play of the same name, is a haunting tale of the struggle between good and evil. Set in 16th century in Germany, an elderly scholar sells his soul to the devil Méphistophélès for a chance to seduce the beautiful and innocent Marguerite. This opera has only been produced once before by The Atlanta Opera in 1995. Faust will be performed in French with projectEd English translations.

The title role will be sung by Noah Stewart in his Atlanta Opera debut. The role of Marguerite will be sung by soprano Mary Dunleavy who will appear on the Atlanta Opera stage as Violetta in La traviata on March 2, 5, 8, and 10, 2013 at the Cobb Energy Centre. Dunleavy can be seen singing the role of Marguerite in a scene in Steven Spielberg's Oscar-nominated movie Lincoln. Making his Atlanta Opera debut, Russian bass Alexander Vinogradov performs the role of Méphistophélès. Having created new roles and performed with the major opera houses of the world including The Metropolitan Opera, Robynne Redmon returns to the Atlanta Opera stage as Marthe Schwerlein. Baritone Edward Parks and mezzo-soprano Irene Roberts both make their Atlanta Opera debuts as Valentin and Sièbel, respectively. The Atlanta Opera's Carl and Sally Gable Music Director, Arthur Fagen, will conduct Faust.

Earl Staley designed this production, which was originally staged for Houston Grand Opera by Francesca Zambello.

The season concludes with The Barber of Seville (IL Barbiere di Siviglia) on April 26, 29 and May 2 and 4, 2014. Gioachino Rossini's opera buffa is presented in two acts and takes place in Seville, Spain during the 17th century. Considered one of the funniest in the opera buffa genre, The Barber of Seville tells the story of the wily barber Figaro as he aids Count Almaviva in wooing the radiant maiden, Rosina. With masterful disguises and hilarious antics, romance unfurls right under the nose of an aghast Dr. Bartolo, intent on marrying Rosina himself. The Barber of Seville will be performed in Italian with projectEd English translations.

Mezzo-soprano Emily Fons will join The Atlanta Opera for her role debut as Rosina. Tenor Juan José de León will pursue Rosina as Count Almaviva and baritone Sidney Outlaw will sing the part of Figaro. Both will be welcomed to the Atlanta Opera stage for the first time. Also coming to the Atlanta Opera stage for the first time are Italian Stefano de Peppo who will perform the bass role of Dr. Bartolo and bass-baritone Sam Handley who will be singing Don Basilio. Craig Kier will serve as conductor.

The first community engagement initiative for the 2013-2014 season is the High School Opera Institute (HSOI) training program. The Atlanta Opera will be auditioning high school students in grades 10-12 from throughout Metro Atlanta in early September 2013. Currently in its fourth year, the High School Opera Institute provides focused training for high school students looking to continue music study at the collegiate level. Students attend vocal coachings with High School Opera Institute Music Director Walter Huff; diction and dramatic coachings with Ms. Beverly Blouin and Dr. Stephanie Adrian; a vocal health seminar presented by the Emory Voice Center; and informational workshops focused on selecting a music school and preparing for collegiate auditions. HSOI alumni are now studying at some of the top music schools in the country including Manhattan School of Music, Indiana University, Rice University, and Oberlin Conservatory. Applications for the 2013-2014 HSOI program will be available for download at late this spring.

On October 10, 2013 at 11 a.m. at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, The Atlanta Opera will offer a special abbreviated version of Puccini's masterpiece, Tosca, for middle and high schools students. This Student Short is excerpted from the full production and performed with full chorus, sets, costumes and lighting, and accompanied by The Atlanta Opera Orchestra. The opera is performed in Italian with projectEd English translations. This performance is for students only. Tickets are $10 per student, and can be purchased online or by calling 404-881-8885.