Atlantic Arts Foundation and Harlem Opera Theater to Present Britten's THE BURNING FIERY FURNACE, 5/12

Atlantic Arts Foundation and Harlem Opera Theater to Present Britten's THE BURNING FIERY FURNACE, 5/12

On May 12, 2014, The Atlantic Arts Foundation, with the artistic collaboration of Harlem Opera Theater, presents Benjamin Britten's The Burning Fiery Furnace, with the generous support of MasterCard and Citi. One of Britten's famed "Parables for Church Performance," this one-hour opera in English will be performed by an all African-American cast in the gothic revival splendor of Harlem's Church of the Intercession (Broadway at 155th Street, NYC). The performance begins at 7:00pm.

"The artistic decision to form an all African-American cast," says director Michael Sisk, "came about with the realization that the three stories resonate in the African-American experience. From the 'sold away' children of slavery, to the son redeemed from street temptations, and the joyful Sunday School triumph of Shadrach, Mesach and Abednego, the African-American experience illuminates these works."

The May 12 event is a prelude to a theatrical run of all three of Britten's "Parables" (Curlew River, The Burning Fiery Furnace, and The Prodigal Son) on June 12, 13, and 14, 2014 at 7:00pm at the Church of the Intercession. Tickets are $50 and $25, and children (18 and under) who are accompanied by a ticket-buying adult are free. To reserve tickets go to http://www.eventbrite.com/e/benjamin-britten-in-harlem-tickets-11419276363 to purchase tickets. Tickets will be on sale starting May 15, 2014.

The May 12 Gala also includes a reception at Dick Parson's fabulous restaurant The Cecil. Donna Corbat, Bonnie Pfeifer Evans, Sheila Klehm, Flo Fulton, and Muna Rihani Al-Nasser are the evening's co-chairs. The CEO of MasterCard, Ajay Banga, CEO of Citi, Michael Corbat, and Parsons will be there, as well as guests Reem Acra, Jeffrey Banks, Alva Chinn, Pat Cleveland, CeeCee Cord, Carmen D'Alessio, Bethann Hardison, Cathy Hardwick, Judith Jamison, Gemma Kahng, China Machado, Patrick McDonald, Maripol, Robert Molnar and Fred Schneider (B52's), Andrew Leon Talley, Kirat Young, and many more.

The aims of the production are to expose new audiences to opera, bring lively discussions to the Harlem community, and give young talented African-American singers well-deserved exposure and the chance to advance their careers. Paired with the June productions will be education outreach programs to teach high school and college students about opera and engage them in the timeless stories Britten tells.

Michael Sisk, the founder and president of The Atlantic Arts Foundation, directs the production, with musical direction by Dr. Gregory Hopkins, the artistic director of Harlem Opera Theater. Also highlighting the performance will be costumes by Coty Award-winner Stephen Burrows, choreography by Abdul Latif, and puppets and effects design by Jessica Scott, from the studio of Basil Twist.

Alfred Barclift, who plays The Astrologer, Tryone Chambers, King Nebuchadnezzar, and Barry L. Robinson, The Herald, star in The Burning Fiery Furnace on May 12; they will be joined by Everett Suttle for the performances in June. The cast of each opera consists of 14 Monks (singers) and five assistants who will sing to glorious live music played by eight instrumentalists. Members of the cast have sung all over the world, including La Scala in Milan, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Lincoln Center, Opera Creole in New Orleans, and now Harlem.

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