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The Atlanta Opera Announces Return to Mainstage Performances in November

The mainstage opens in November with the U.S. premiere of Zvulun’s staging of Handel’s Baroque masterpiece Julius Caesar in Egypt.

The Atlanta Opera celebrates its return to the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre with four mainstage productions in 2021-22. Beginning in November with Handel's Julius Caesar in Egypt, in its first staging by the company, the season continues with the return of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance, Rossini's beloved Barber of Seville, and the Southeastern premiere of the Grammy award-winning opera The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, in a new production by Carl W. Knobloch Jr. General and Artistic Director Tomer Zvulun. Two Discoveries series productions will also be announced at a later date. Meanwhile, at least two of the innovations necessitated by the pandemic proved their staying power: the "Big Tent" series will continue the momentum of the current season in the fall while easing audiences back into the indoor venue, and the company's commitment to streaming opera productions is now a permanent feature of its operations. Not only will select mainstage and Discoveries productions be filmed, but digital-only shorts and features will also be created, with all the new content streamed on the Spotlight Media platform. Far from languishing during the challenges of the past year, The Atlanta Opera emphatically rose, and continues to rise, to the occasion, only reinforcing its reputation as "one of the most exciting opera companies in America" (Opera Wire).

The health and safety of casts, crew and audiences remains The Atlanta Opera's first priority. The company will continue to rely on the advice and direction of its health and safety team, led by Emory University's Dr. Carlos del Rio, in setting standards for each production.

The mainstage opens in November with the U.S. premiere of Zvulun's staging of Handel's Baroque masterpiece Julius Caesar in Egypt, which the director first created for The Israeli Opera, which performed it in the outdoor setting of a 12th-century crusader's fortress. Collaborating with Zvulun on the production are renowned choreographer Donald Byrd and set and costume designers Alexander Lisianski and Mattie Ullrich. Loosely based on events during the Roman Civil War of 49-45 BC, the story of power, intrigue, sex, love and violence traces Caesar's love affair with Cleopatra as she struggles to become the ruler of Egypt. Conducted by Baroque specialist Gary Wedow making his Atlanta debut, the opera features Jasmine Habersham and Meg Marino, both stars of the company's recent production of The Threepenny Carmen, with the rest of the cast still to be announced.

In January, The Atlanta Opera takes to the high seas with Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera The Pirates of Penzance. Seán Curran's rollicking staging will feature a host of return engagements: Santiago Ballerini, familiar from The Atlanta Opera's 2018 production of La fille du régiment and 2019's La Cenerentola, sings Frederic, with 2020-21 Atlanta Opera Studio member Susanne Burgess - who sang the role of Lucy in the recent Threepenny Opera - as his love-at-first-sight Mabel; and Craig Irvin, last seen in Kevin Puts's Silent Night, sings the Pirate King. Francesco Milioto, Music Director of Opera San Antonio and conductor of the recent Threepenny Opera, will be on the podium.

In March, the company turns to Rossini's perennially popular opera buffa The Barber of Seville, with a revival of the highly stylized staging by Michael Shell that impressed Opera News as "hilariously delightful with every random turn." Inspired by the work of acclaimed Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar, this production transports audiences to a pop-culture world populated by outrageous characters and one pampered rooster. Starring "electrifying" (San Francisco Chronicle) mezzo-soprano Stephanie Lauricella as Rosina, Barber also features Giovanni Romeo - fresh from performing the same role at Moscow's Bolshoi Theater - as Bartolo, and David Crawford, a fixture at the Metropolitan Opera for almost a decade and a half, as Basilio. The production will be conducted by Music Director Arthur Fagen.

The mainstage season concludes with the much-anticipated Southeast premiere of Zvulun's brand new production of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, winner of the 2019 Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording. Written by Kennedy Center Composer-in-Residence Mason Bates to a libretto by Silent Night's Mark Campbell, (R)evolution follows the visionary Apple co-founder as he looks back on his life and career and confronts his own mortality. While Bates's work was received as an important new addition to the operatic canon in its first incarnation, Zvulun's new treatment reinforces its durability. Featuring sets and costumes by Jacob Climer and projections by S. Katy Tucker - the creative team behind The Atlanta Opera's memorable The Flying Dutchman - (R)evolution is co-produced with Lyric Opera of Kansas City and Austin Opera. Most of the cast is still to be announced, but rising mezzo-soprano Sarah Larsen will be featured in the role of Laurene Powell Jobs.

The Atlanta Opera met the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic with an outburst of creativity and innovation that not only permitted continuing engagement with audiences when many companies around the world were dark, but also promises to profoundly affect the future of the company. The "Big Tent" series - an outgrowth of the Discoveries series that was already mounting adventurous new productions in alternative spaces - saw the creation of four new productions in two different outdoor venues, as well as a number of concerts. The "Company of Players" was created from an impressive pool of world-class Atlanta-area talent, including Jamie Barton, Daniela Mack, Morris Robinson, and many others, even while the newly created streaming platform and production company "Spotlight Media" allowed The Atlanta Opera to reach a global audience. Early in the pandemic the company even partnered with Atlanta's Grady Health System to create thousands of masks and hospital gowns in its costume shop, as well as offering Singing Telegrams to those in hospitals and nursing homes who were isolated from their loved ones. As the Wall Street Journal reported, The Atlanta Opera's productions "demonstrate[d] how imaginative direction can harness COVID restrictions for artistic effect." Paying tribute to the company's spirit of innovation and perseverance, PBS Newshour highlighted The Atlanta Opera in a TV broadcast feature story entitled, "The show will go on! Performing arts pivot during the pandemic."

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