The Molly Blank Fund Donates $1.2 Million to Support Atlanta Opera's New Audience Initiatives

By: Oct. 27, 2017

The Atlanta Opera has received a $1.2 Million, three-year grant from The Molly Blank Fund of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation.

This gift will allow the company to continue its intense focus on attracting new audiences by expanding the repertoire and creating new, innovative performance experiences throughout metro Atlanta. The grant will partially underwrite both the successful Discoveries series and the Studio Tour through the 2020-21 season.

The Opera previously received a $600,000, two-year grant from the Molly Blank Fund to support the Discoveries series and Studio Tour in the 16-17 and 17-18 seasons.

"The Blank Foundation's confidence in our vision is deeply encouraging. We are indebted to them and to other Atlantans who embrace our mission to enrich our community with the highest quality, innovative productions," said Tomer Zvulun, General and Artistic Director. "What started as a modest programming exploration a few years ago has now become a cornerstone of our strategic plan and annual operations. Atlanta has shown that it has an appetite for sophisticated, unusual performances as demonstrated by the sold out houses we experienced in recent shows. This generous gift will allow us to continue to expand our programming and increase the quality of performances as we reach new audiences in diverse locations in the city."

The Discoveries series launched in the 2014-15 season to offer audiences new works, new ideas and fresh perspectives. The Discoveries series received a Best of Atlanta award in 2015 from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and was nominated for an International Opera Award in 2016, a first for the company.

The company has presented six operas as part of the Discoveries series: Jake Heggie's Three Decembers, Schubert's song cycle Winter Journey (Winterreise), David T. Little's Soldier Songs, Piazzolla's Maria de Buenos Aires, Mozart's The Secret Gardener, and, most recently, Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's The Seven Deadly Sins.

The Discoveries series presents operas in alternate venues, including the ALLIANCE THEATRE, Conant Theatre at Oglethorpe University, the Rialto Center for the Arts, Le Maison Rouge at Paris on Ponce, and the Atlanta Botanical Garden. The previous three Discoveries series productions were all sold out, and both Maria de Buenos Aires and The Seven Deadly Sins added two and four performances, respectively, due to overwhelming demand.

The Studio Tour features the young artists of The Atlanta Opera Studio, and brings an abridged opera to schools and performance centers across Georgia each season. The Studio Tour reaches more than 15,000 students annually. The Studio Tour production this season is Mozart's The Magic Flute and will perform all over the state this October, 2017, as well as next January and May, 2018. The grant will ensure that students will continue to learn about and engage with the art form, and experience opera performances first hand in their school.

The Atlanta Opera Discoveries series is dedicated to audience members who are seeking new works, new ideas and fresh perspectives. As a part of The Atlanta Opera's efforts to bring opera to new audiences all over the Atlanta Metro area, these productions will be performed in exciting alternative venues. The Opera opened the 2017-18 season with Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's The Seven Deadly Sins presented at Le Maison Rouge. Due to overwhelming demand, the Opera added four additional performances. In April, 2018, the Discoveries series will present the fully staged world premiere of Out of Darkness: Two Remain by composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer. Out of Darkness: Two Remain is presented in collaboration with Theatrical Outfit and will be presented at the Balzer Theater at Herren's.

The Atlanta Opera 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. The Studio program has already helped launch the careers of 2016-17 season alums Brenna Corner and Santiago Ballerini, who will return to the Atlanta mainstage in 2017-18 as stage director for Carmen and as Tonio in The Daughter of the Regiment, respectively. The six members of the 2017-18 Atlanta Opera Studio are stage director Brenna Corner (Alberta, Canada), baritone Christopher Dunham (Ontario, Canada), soprano Bryn Holdsworth (New York, NY), mezzo-soprano Gina Perregrino (Wilmington, DE) pianist and vocal coach Valerie Pool (Marietta, GA) and tenor Justin Stolz (Ontario, Canada).

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.

The Molly Blank Fund of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation was established after Mrs. Blank's 2015 death at age 99, to continue the pursuits of causes and organizations in which she believed. The focus of the grant making is on programs that address the interests Molly supported in her lifetime, including at-risk youth, arts and culture, and Jewish causes emphasizing social justice and interfaith coalitions.


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