Video: The Atlanta Opera Season Announcement 24/25

Featuring Immersive “Bohème Project” & New Production of Siegfried with Greer Grimsley, Stefan Vinke, Lise Lindstrom, Lindsay Ammann & Barry Banks

By: Jan. 19, 2024
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The Atlanta Opera – “a powerhouse in the Atlanta arts scene” (ArtsATL) and “one of the most exciting opera companies in America” (OperaWire) – celebrates its 45th anniversary during the 2024-25 season, with productions inspired by the archetypal “hero's journey” found in myths and fairytales from around the world.

Season highlights include two contemporary and immersive Discoveries series productions as part of the “Bohème Project.” Following the present season's traditional production of Puccini's La bohème, the 2024-25 Discoveries series will present a modern-day take on the same opera, updated to the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, running in repertory with Jonathan Larson's Rent, with both shows performed at Atlanta's Pullman Yards (Sep 18–Oct 6). Also highlighting the season is Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. General & Artistic Director Tomer Zvulun's new production of Wagner's Siegfried, the third opera in The Atlanta Opera's Ring cycle, featuring Greer Grimsley, Stefan Vinke, Barry Banks, Lise Lindstrom, and Lindsay Ammann (April 26–May 4).

In its first complete season as one of the 10 top-tier “Budget One” opera companies in the U.S., The Atlanta Opera's mainstage series at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre opens with Mozart's The Magic Flute, featuring Rainelle Krause in her company debut as the Queen of the Night and Santiago Ballerini as the hero Tamino (Nov 2–10); continues in the spring with Michael Mayes singing the title role of Verdi's Macbeth joined by Sara Gartland as Lady Macbeth (March 1–9); and concludes, following the new Siegfried, with Lauren Snouffer in the title role of Handel's Semele (June 7–15). All mainstage series productions will be livestreamed and filmed for release by The Atlanta Opera Film Studio (see below for more details). On January 19 at 11 AM EDT, The Atlanta Opera will present the new season by livestream here.
 
Reflecting on the 45th anniversary season's programming, Zvulun says: “Broad support from our patrons has allowed us to expand our operations and join the top-tier companies in America. We are making the most of this support with a monumental season that follows our three-tiered approach. First, we lift up the quality of our mainstage productions by attracting the top singers in the world – this season including Stefan Vinke, Lise Lindstrom, Greer Grimsley, Michael Mayes, Sara Gartland, Morris Robinson, and many others. The crown jewel of our mainstage season is the third and most heroic opera in the Ring cycle – Siegfried. In fact, the whole season is built around the idea of heroes and their journeys, from Siegfried to Tamino in The Magic Flute to the dark journey of Macbeth and the ethereal adventures of Semele, all with fresh productions. The second part of our approach is presenting immersive productions in unconventional locations. This season, the Discoveries series will bring productions of La bohème and Jonathan Larson's Rent to Pullman Yards as part of the ‘Bohème Project.' Third, our investment in American contemporary opera continues with the 96-Hour Opera project, which was designed specifically for composers and librettists from underrecognized communities and fulfills our commitment to produce a world premiere every season at Morehouse College.”

Discoveries Series: The Atlanta Opera's immersive “Bohème Project”

Following the present season's traditional production of Puccini's La bohème, in September the Atlanta Opera Discoveries series continues “The Bohème Project” with two immersive productions at Pullman Yards. Produced by Tomer Zvulun with Ukrainian-Israeli American designer, director, and multimedia artist Vita Tzykun, the Discoveries series “Bohème Project” comprises repertory performances of a modern-day La bohème – with the COVID-19 pandemic in place of tuberculosis – with the Broadway show it inspired, Jonathan Larson's Rent, which updated Puccini's story of friendship, passion, and art by setting it in the midst of the 1990's HIV/AIDS crisis. Both performed on the same set, with the action taking place in and around the seated audience, the productions will feature different casts and musical forces and will alternate nights for most of the run. On September 22 and 29, the two works will be performed back-to-back. Zvulun explains: “La bohème is such a romantic, sweeping opera that we forget sometimes that the story is about the impact of a devastating pandemic on a whole generation, in this case tuberculosis, which ravaged the world in the 19th century. Our own generation has been forever altered by the COVID-19 pandemic, and its impact will be with us for many years to come. In 2024, The Atlanta Opera launched an experimental program that we named the “Bohème Project,” using that timeless story to reflect on the three pandemics: tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and COVID-19. Our current production now onstage in January 2024 is a traditional presentation of La bohème, which is part of our Mainstage series. In the fall, we will return to the historic space of Pullman Yards to present immersive, groundbreaking productions of Rent and a brand-new adaptation of La bohème as part of our Discoveries series.” The Atlanta Opera Discoveries series has been widely recognized for presenting new works, new ideas and fresh perspectives, as well as for performances in alternative venues that bring opera to new audiences across the Atlanta metro area. One of the city's premier entertainment destinations, Pullman Yards – where The Atlanta Opera mounted its recent production of Cabaret – is now also home to Fishmonger, named among Bon Appetit's best new restaurants for 2023.

Mainstage operas: the hero's journey

The Atlanta Opera's 2024-25 mainstage season begins with Mozart's The Magic Flute (Nov 2–10), directed by Tomer Zvulun. Santiago Ballerini, known for his “ardent voice and a charismatic stage presence” (Cincinnati Business Courier), and Meigui Zhang, possessed of a “bright, agile, soprano with secure top notes” (Opera News), sing the roles of Tamino, the hero prince, and Pamina, the princess he seeks. Acclaimed baritone Luke Sutliff sings Papageno, Peixin Chen is the magician Sarastro, the “dynamic and unforgettable” (Broadway World) Rainelle Krause sings the Queen of the Night, and “breathtaking” (Opera) tenor Barry Banks sings Monostatos.
 
Verdi's Macbeth (March 1–9), by contrast, brings to life the tragedy of Shakespeare's brooding anti-hero. In the title role is Atlanta Opera favorite Michael Mayes. Most recently seen in Bluebeard's Castle, Dead Man Walking, and Sweeney Todd, Mayes is also featured on the recording of Glory Denied, and was a member of the Company Players during the pandemic season, performing in the Big Tent Series. Soprano Sara Gartland, who won raves from Opera Today for her “substantial lyric soprano of great beauty and rock solid technique,” sings opposite Mayes as Lady Macbeth, and Korean tenor Won Whi Choi, praised by the New York Observer for a “big, virile sound that rocketed fearlessly up to a high C,” returns as MacDuff after singing the Duke of Mantua in the present season's Rigoletto.
 
Closing out the season is the story of an anti-heroine, Handel's Semele (June 7–15), which sees the return of soprano Lauren Snouffer to the Atlanta stage. Praised by Opera for a voice that is “lovely, pure, and flexible,” Snouffer takes the title role in Handel's moving work taken from Ovid's Metamorphoses about a love triangle between the mortal Princess Semele, Jupiter and a jealously raging Juno. Semele loses her life, but from her ashes is born her son, Bacchus.

Siegfried – Third in The Atlanta Opera's Ring Cycle

Following productions of Das Rheingold and Die Walküre in The Atlanta Opera's Ring cycle over the past two seasons, Siegfried (April 26–May 4) is an epic five-hour opera in which love, courage, and wisdom triumph over the lure of unfettered power. With a superb cast starring “impassioned” (Parterre Box 2022) heldentenor Stefan Vinke, “a seasoned Wagnerian” (Seattle Times), this all-new Tomer Zvulun production also features Greer Grimsley continuing his role as Wotan and Zachary Nelson returning as Alberich. Joining them are two international talents singing for Atlanta audiences for the first time: Lise Lindstrom, who “brings instant star power to the role of Brünnhilde” (Classical CD Reviews) and Lindsay Ammann, praised for her “burning, taut contralto” (New York Classical Review), in the role of Erda. Following his turn in The Magic Flute, Barry Banks sings the role of Mime. Like the previous Ring cycle productions, Siegfried is directed by Zvulun in collaboration with scenic and projections designer Erhard Rom and lighting designer Robert Wierzel, with costumes by European Opera Prize-winner Mattie Ullrich. The team expands on their vision from the first two productions, creating a setting equally inspired by ancient Germanic folklore and today's Marvel multiverse.

The Atlanta Opera Film Studio

Born from the crisis of the pandemic restrictions, The Atlanta Opera Film Studio has grown from a simple capture and replay initiative to engage quarantined patrons into a full-service production company that serves and enhances the mission of The Atlanta Opera in myriad ways. Cinematic operas are meticulously produced using a variety of capture and editing capabilities. The catalogue of titles (Finding Glory Denied, Julius Caesar, The Pirates of Penzance, Don Giovanni, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs and more) is distributed through a variety of channels including Apple TV, Android TV, Roku, and The Atlanta Opera Channel. In addition to the cinematic operas, livestream replays of productions, documentaries, video shorts, educational films, promotional trailers, the Blink series, a “Five Things” video series, and much more content is available to engage and support enquiry into opera and specific productions of The Atlanta Opera. With most content available free, the work of The Film Studio reaches an expanding number of viewers in metro Atlanta and around the world, with accounts on six continents. Mainstage productions are presented online for livestream viewing on the Friday evening performances. Many livestreams are then available for replay from previous seasons at stream.atlantaopera.org/browse. Viewing most content requires only an email registration. To view the cinematic operas produced at The Atlanta Opera, a $25 annual subscription is required.

Award-winning New Works Initiative – 96-Hour Opera Festival

Recognized for excellence by the State of Georgia, The Atlanta Opera's 96-Hour Opera Project and Festival has developed into an incubator for talented yet underrepresented creatives in the opera field. Designed specifically for composers and librettists from historically underrecognized communities, the 96-Hour Opera Project is only open to those who self-identify as Black, Indigenous, Asian American, Pacific Islander, Arab American, Latin American or members of other communities of color. The 96-HOP offers cash prizes, mentorship opportunities, supportive workshopping, and ultimately premiere performances. Annually, the Festival presents a showcase of the ten-minute pieces being judged in the competition, plus works in development by previous competition winners and premieres of complete operas. The 2025 Festival will feature the world premiere of the 2022 competition winner, Forsyth County is Flooding (with the joy of Lake Lanier) by composer Marcus Norris and librettist Adamma Ebo. The Festival is presented in June at the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center on the campus of community partner Morehouse College. The judging panel has included Pulitzer Prize-winning librettist Mark Campbell, award-winning actress and director Tinashe Kajese-Bolden, New York Times bestselling author Andrea Davis Pinkney and other experienced leaders in the industry.

Community Education Tour and Livestreams

The Atlanta Opera Studio Tour for the 2024-25 season will reach more than 100 schools and nearly 70,000 students with a live or virtual presentation of Mozart's The Magic Flute adapted by Brenna Corner. Designed to travel, Studio Tour productions are presented in schools and community venues across the state of Georgia. Educators are provided with comprehensive guides that feature lesson plans and activities corresponding to the Georgia Standards of Excellence. Teachers are welcome to inquire about access to the Studio Tour at education@atlantaopera.org.

About The Atlanta Opera

The Atlanta Opera's mission is to break the boundaries of opera to create exceptional experiences for audiences everywhere. Founded in 1979, the company works with world-renowned singers, conductors, directors and designers who seek to enhance the art form. Under the leadership of internationally recognized stage director and Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. General & Artistic Director Tomer Zvulun, The Atlanta Opera expanded from three to four mainstage productions at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre and launched the acclaimed “Discoveries” event series, as well as the innovative 96-Hour Opera Project. In recent years, the company has been named among the “Best of 2015” by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was nominated in 2016 and 2023 for International Opera Awards. It also received ArtsATL's 2019 Luminary Award for Community Engagement in recognition of its successful Veterans Program in partnership with the Home Depot Foundation, while the 2023 Governor's Award for the Arts and Humanities recognized the excellence of the 96-Hour Opera Project.

In addition, The Atlanta Opera was featured in a 2018 Harvard Business School case study about successful organizational growth, and Zvulun presented a TEDx Talk at Emory University titled “The Ambidextrous Opera Company, or Opera in the Age of iPhones.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, The Atlanta Opera was one of the only companies in the world to create a full, alternative season, consisting of no fewer than 40 live performances in two different outdoor venues, including a revolutionary custom-designed circus tent. The critically acclaimed productions and concerts were streamed in HD on the newly created “Atlanta Opera Film Studio” streaming platform, which continues to allow The Atlanta Opera to reach a global audience. National media coverage of the “pandemic season” included features in the Wall Street Journal and on PBS NewsHour. Reflecting on the company's achievements over the past decade, Musical America declared, “The Atlanta Opera has arrived.” For more information, visit atlantaopera.org.




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