Atlanta Opera Announces New Season
The Atlanta Opera presents its most exciting season to date in 2018-19. The mainstage season will be bookended by two of the greatest blockbusters in the repertoire, as well as the most performed American opera of the 21st century, and Tchaikovsky's timeless masterpiece. The Discoveries series features two distinct styles in a jazz-infused 'Be-Bopera' and a tango opera presented at beloved local venue, the red velvet cabaret Le Maison Rouge.
"Our 2018-19 season is programmed for avid opera lovers and new audiences alike. This will be our most popular season ever starting with our celebration of Bernstein and his seminal West Side Story, and closing with a triumphant presentation of Verdi's masterwork, La Traviata," said Tomer Zvulun, General and Artistic Director. "This 'mega-season' includes a new American classic in Dead Man Walking, and a beautiful new production of Eugene Onegin. Our Discoveries season is the most diverse ever with jazz and tango operas at the sexy Le Maison Rouge. We are presenting operatic works at the highest artistic level, many of which have never been seen in Atlanta. This is an epic season of rousing and beautiful opera."
The mainstage season opens in November with West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein. The Atlanta Opera celebrates the legendary composer's lifetime of astounding achievement in his centennial year. This production, a modern take on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, remains true to the Broadway production that debuted in 1957. Bernstein's music, paired with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, is some of the most beloved in musical theater and sure to have audiences humming after the show. Francesca Zambello, General and Artistic Director of Glimmerglass Festival, who created this production with Houston Grand Opera, Glimmerglass Festival, and Chicago Lyric Opera, will direct - her debut with The Opera. Julio Monge will serve as choreographer, adhering to the original choreography developed by Jerome Robbins. Vanessa Becerra will sing the role of Maria. The Atlanta Opera presents West Side Story on November 3, 6, 9 and 11, 2018 at Cobb Energy Centre.
In another The Atlanta Opera first, the company will present Dead Man Walking - the most frequently performed new American opera of the century - in February. Composed by Jake Heggie with a libretto by Terrence McNally, Dead Man Walking is the powerful story of Sister Helen Prejean and Joseph De Rocher, and the unlikely, inspiring relationship between a nun and a convicted death row inmate. Native Georgian and international opera star Jamie Barton will make her role debut as Sister Prejean. Michael Mayes will portray De Rocher, a role that has gained him global acclaim and that took him to Madrid, London and Washington National Opera in previous seasons. Karen Slack will sing the role of Sister Rose, and Maria Zifchak will sing the role of Mrs. De Rocher. Zvulun, who received critical acclaim for his direction of Dead Man Walking at New Orleans Opera in 2016, will direct. This co-production with The Israeli Opera will be presented on February 2, 5, 8, and 10, 2019 at Cobb Energy Centre.
In March, The Opera presents Tchaikovsky's masterpiece, Eugene Onegin. The beautiful, new co-production with Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Hawaii Opera Theatre, Seattle Opera, and Michigan Opera Theatre will be directed by Zvulun, who created the production with his frequent collaborators, designers Erhard Rom and Robert Wierzel. This romantic story of love and loss with Tchaikovsky's masterful score will thrill opera-lovers and new audiences alike. David Adam Moore will sing the title role of Eugene Onegin. Moore was last seen in Atlanta in the 2015 Discoveries series production of Winter Journey. Raquel Gonzalez sings the role of Tatyana. William Burden will sing the role of Lenski. Stephen Lord, long time music director of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, will make his Atlanta Opera debut as conductor. Eugene Onegin, last seen in Atlanta in 2004, will be presented on March 2, 5, 8, and 10, 2019 at Cobb Energy Centre.
The mainstage season closes in May with Verdi's La Traviata, one of the most popular operas in the repertoire. Known for its brilliant, recognizable score, this grand opera tells the story of Violetta, who trades in her coquettish lifestyle for love, but then must sacrifice that love for family. Czech soprano Zuzana Markova will make her US debut as Violetta. Mario Chang will sing the role of Alfredo. Fabian Veloz will sing the role of Germont. Arthur Fagen, the Carl and Sally Gable Music Director, will conduct. La Traviata, last seen in Atlanta in 2012, will be presented on April 27 and 30 and May 3 and 5, 2019 at Cobb Energy Centre.
"The 2018-19 season includes incredible orchestration by some of the greatest composers the world has ever known," said Arthur Fagen, Carl & Sally Gable Music Director. "The productions on the mainstage and in the Discoveries series present diverse, rich soundscapes, many of which will highlight our Atlanta Opera Orchestra, which we consider one of the best up-and-coming orchestras in the opera world today."
Subscriptions for the 2018-19 Season are now on sale. Single tickets will go on sale on June 9, 2018.
Entering its fifth full season, the Discoveries series has established itself as a cornerstone of The Atlanta Opera's creative mission. The previous three productions (Maria de Buenos Aires, The Secret Gardener, and The Seven Deadly Sins) were all completely sold out. True to its mission, the Discoveries series will continue to bring new works and fresh perspectives to Atlanta audiences in the 2018-19 season with a distinctive offering.
The Discoveries series will open in September with the southern premiere of Charlie Parker's Yardbird. The jazz opera, composed by Daniel Schnyder (himself a saxophonist), looks at the tortured and exhilarating life of legendary jazz virtuoso and bebop pioneer Charlie Parker as he lays on his deathbed. This production will be directed by Omer Ben Seadia and conducted by Clinton Smith. Charlie Parker's Yardbird (sung in English) will be presented at Le Maison Rouge in four performances from September 27 to October 7, 2018.
In March, the Discoveries series brings Astor Piazzolla's Maria de Buenos Aires back to Atlanta due to popular demand. The opera had its Atlanta premiere in February 2017 with five sold-out performances at Le Maison Rouge. Zvulun will direct the production, as he did previously in Atlanta and New Orleans. Jorge Parodi will return to conduct. Maria de Buenos Aires (sung in Spanish) will run for four performances from March 28 to April 7, 2019 at Le Maison Rouge.
"The Discoveries series features operas that are clearly influenced by other musical styles: Jazz is the inspiration for Yardbird and Maria de Buenos Aires is inspired by tango," Zvulun said. "They focus on charismatic characters, such as Charlie Parker and Maria de Buenos Aires. These are vibrant, tortured artists whose stories are told in a dazzling way. We're excited to offer audiences these intimate opera experiences at our favorite spot on the BeltLine, Le Maison Rouge."
Pre-sale tickets for the Discoveries series are available now to subscribers only. Single tickets will go on sale to the public on June 9, 2018.
The Atlanta Opera Studio, the company's artist-in-residence program, will return with four singers, one director, and one pianist/coach in the 2018-19 season. The Opera will announce the newest members of the Studio in March 2018. The Studio provides talented emerging artists with valuable performance experience working alongside internationally acclaimed operatic professionals. The artists participate in masterclasses and specialized instruction, enhancing and deepening their professional education through coaching in language, stage skills, and career development. In previous seasons, artists have performed in the company's mainstage and Discoveries series roles.
In the 2018-19 season, the Studio Tour will present a new, touring production of Rossini's The Barber of Seville. Featuring the artists of The Atlanta Opera Studio, the Tour performs at schools and community centers throughout the state and reaches approximately 13,000 students every year.
The Atlanta Opera Discoveries series is dedicated to audience members who are seeking new works, new ideas and fresh perspectives. Launched by Zvulun in his inaugural season, this program represents The Atlanta Opera's efforts to bring opera to new audiences all over the Atlanta Metro area, in productions performed in exciting alternative venues.
The Atlanta Opera is one of the finest regional opera companies in the nation. In 2013, the company recruited internationally recognized stage director Tomer Zvulun as its General and Artistic Director. In the 2014-2015 season, the company launched the acclaimed Discoveries series of operas staged in alternative theaters around Atlanta. The program was recognized by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as part of its Best of 2015 awards and the company was nominated for the International Opera Awards in London in 2016. The Discoveries series has grown from three to sixteen performances in the past four seasons. In the 2016-2017 season, the company expanded its mainstage season from three to four productions at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. The Opera works with world-renowned singers, conductors, directors, and designers who seek to enhance the art form and make it accessible for a sophisticated, 21st century audience. The Atlanta Opera was founded in 1979 and to this day adheres to its mission to enrich lives through opera.
Photo Credit: Dominic M. Mercier