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The Atlanta Opera Presents Jamie Barton, Kevin Burdette and Morris Robinson in LOVE LETTERS TO ATLANTA

Stream Love Letters for free through Valentine's Day on new Spotlight Media platform.

The Atlanta Opera Presents Jamie Barton, Kevin Burdette and Morris Robinson in LOVE LETTERS TO ATLANTA

The Atlanta Opera has now released the first three Love Letters to Atlanta. Hailed as "a series of affecting short films" (Wall Street Journal), this new video series gives individual members of the Atlanta Opera Company Players - twelve world-class singers hired for the duration of the season, all of whom are resident in Atlanta and the southeast - the chance to celebrate the Georgia capital and its inhabitants by singing a song of personal significance at an iconic Atlanta venue.

Featuring Jamie Barton, Kevin Burdette and Morris Robinson respectively, the first three videos are available free of charge through February 14 on The Atlanta Opera's new Spotlight Media streaming service. Launched just last month, the new digital platform has already come to national notice for showing "how imaginative direction can harness Covid restrictions for artistic effect" (Wall Street Journal).

Additional Love Letters are planned for release later this year. Like the first three videos, they will each be of 11 to 15 minutes in length and will, together with the song performance, capture the featured singer in conversation with Tomer Zvulun, Atlanta's Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. General & Artistic Director. Besides serving as interviewer, it was Zvulun who created the Love Letters project. He explains:

"Featuring an iconic singer in an iconic location, each Love Letter is designed to stand on its own, telling an authentic story about that singer's connection to Atlanta. Once all the Letters are finished, we will compile them into a single film, creating a mosaic that tells a greater story about our love and appreciation of our home."

Zvulun has just been named as one of the leading cultural figures of 2020 by Atlanta magazine, which notes:

"During Zvulun's tenure The [Atlanta] Opera has tripled its fundraising and doubled its annual number of productions; his focus on innovation has led to a Harvard Business School case study, a TED Talk, and an International Opera Awards nomination."

Production of the Love Letters and other Spotlight Media videos was led by Executive Producer Ashley Mirakian, The Atlanta Opera's chief of marketing and audience development, in collaboration with Director of Digital Media Felipe Barral, an Emmy-award winning filmmaker. Mirakian comments:

"One of the most exciting things about our Company Players is their connection to Atlanta, Georgia and the southeast. These Love Letters are an important way for us to give back and say thank you to this city and its people. If we can celebrate our own iconic cultural heritage during this tough time, that's our goal."

In addition to serving as members of the Company Players, Barton, Burdette and Robinson - together with baritone Michael Mayes - form The Atlanta Opera's Artistic Advisory Council, which counsels the company on a range of artistic matters.

Superstar mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton - whose honors include the Beverly Sills Artist Award, Richard Tucker Award, first prize at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition and 2020 Personality of the Year at the BBC Music Magazine Awards - is "an artist whose time truly has come" (Opera magazine). In 2019, she made her role debut as Sister Helen Prejean in The Atlanta Opera's celebrated Southeast premiere of Dead Man Walking. A Georgia native and Atlanta resident, Barton selected "Georgia On My Mind" because it reminds her both of the importance of home, and of the years she spent learning her craft at Indiana University in Bloomington, the hometown of songwriter Hoagy Carmichael. In her Love Letters interview, she recalls:

"It was the first time I had ever moved away from home. I think it was on my playlist at that point for probably the entire time I was at Indiana University. I loved that song because it did remind me of that little call that I always feel when I'm too far away from where I came from."

Barton chose to perform at Atlanta's Fox Theatre, which she associates with some of her fondest childhood memories; growing up in the suburbs of Rome, Georgia, her rare trips to Atlanta almost always included a performance at the Fox. Click here to stream her Love Letter to Atlanta.

Bass Kevin Burdette has performed for Atlanta audiences in Dead Man Walking, The Pirates of Penzance and Abduction from the Seraglio, as well as serving on the faculty of The Atlanta Opera Studio, the company's first young artist program. Dubbed the "Robin Williams of opera" (New York Times), he may be heard on the Metropolitan Opera's Grammy- and Diapason d'Or-winning Deutsche Grammophon recording of The Tempest. Resident in Atlanta for the past several years, Burdette chose to connect to the city's past by performing at the Atlanta Civic Center Auditorium.

Though it has been closed for a number of years, the Civic Center was the final home to the highly successful Met Opera summer tour, which brought operatic legends to the city for a full 75 years. As Burdette says in his Love Letters interview:

"If we're going to tell our story right, we have to know what came before, we have to know the truths that predate us so we can find our own voice and our own truth. To be in a space where you know all the great singers of generations before you have sung, you want to touch the walls they touched, and stand on the stage and feel their vibrations that are some way still in the floor. It's a moving experience."

Drawn from the Tony-winning musical and movie Camelot, Burdette's song is Lerner & Loewe's romantic ballad "If Ever I Would Leave You." Click here to stream his Love Letter to Atlanta.

Morris Robinson boasts a bass "so deep and assured it's as if a vibration goes through the audience every time he opens his mouth" (Globe and Mail, Canada). He recently starred in The Magic Flute at the Metropolitan Opera, having made his Atlanta Opera debut eleven years ago in Aida, before returning for Rigoletto and headlining last year's Porgy and Bess, which was also the vehicle for his acclaimed debut at La Scala. A lifelong Atlanta-area resident, Robinson also chose to sing at the Fox Theatre. In his interview, he reminisces about seeing jazz performances there with his father and reflects on the key role his mother played in launching his career. As he says, he chose Mitch Leigh's showstopper "The Impossible Dream" from the Broadway hit Man of La Mancha because it was the song with which he tried out for the chorus at North Atlanta High School, an audition his mother insisted he do. Robinson explains:

"It makes me think about my mom. Maybe she saw something I didn't see. Maybe she knew what it was going to be. As soon as I started singing opera professionally, she died. She never got to see all this stuff. And I've sung all over the world. That audition, that moment, formulated who I am."

The Love Letters are offered on Atlanta's Spotlight Media platform, which rolls out a substantial new streaming bundle each month. Also available are the "Mezzo Extravaganza," which celebrates the superlative voices of mezzo-sopranos Barton, Gabrielle Beteag, Daniela Mack and Megan Marino, and two productions captured live in the company's innovative 2020-21 "Big Tent" series. Both directed by Zvulun, the two operas share the same topical setting - a traveling circus caught in a dystopian world during a pandemic. Baritone Michael Mayes headlines the acclaimed company premiere of The Kaiser of Atlantis, a chilling satire on Hitler by eventual Auschwitz victims Viktor Ullmann and Peter Kien, while baritone Reginald Smith, Jr., tenor Richard Trey Smagur and soprano Talise Trevigne star in Leoncavallo's verismo classic Pagliacci, available from January 22.

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