Atlanta Opera has announced its return to the stage with four stage productions planned for the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center and two planned as part of their Discovery series presented in their Big Tent venue.
Atlanta Opera 2021-22 season
Starting in November, the four main productions are: JULIUS CAESAR IN EGYPT by Handel, THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE by Gilbert and Sullivan, BARBER OF SEVILLE by Rossini and THE (R) EVOLUTION OF STEVE JOBS, written by Mason Bates on a libretto by Mark Campbell. . This follows a season of productions in the Big Tent, which was custom-built to keep audiences, performers and crew safe during the pandemic, but proved popular beyond all expectations.
It was the company’s Discoveries series, dedicated to mounting new, adventurous productions in alternative spaces, that inspired Big Tent’s much-loved performances, and the venue rightly returns this season for the Discoveries Series’ Come As You Are ”(June 2-19, 2022), featuring a production of the hit musical CABARET performed in the repertoire with the critically acclaimed chamber opera CABARET.
In the words of Atlanta Opera Artistic Director Tomer Zvulun
“We believe that what unites us is much greater than what divides us. CABARET and AS ONE take place a century apart: one at the start of the 20th century and the other at the beginning of the 21st. But they’re all about the same theme: we’re all different, but as human beings we look a lot more alike than we sometimes say. History proves again and again that great dangers lie ahead if we choose to focus on what separates us rather than what unites us.
“During the pandemic, the Big Tent became the symbol of unity. A safe place, where we can come together as a community and enjoy live performances regardless of the turbulence outside. We can’t wait to get together under the marquee to enjoy these two masterpieces.
The Atlanta Opera’s CABARET production is adapted from the 1998 Broadway revival that lasted over 2,377 performances at Studio 54 in New York City. Zvulun will conduct and James Lowe, Music Director and Conductor of the Tony Award-winning Broadway cover of ANYTHING GOES with Sutton Foster and Joel Gray, will conduct the members of the Atlanta Opera Orchestra. Award-winning decorator Alexander Dodge will transform the great tent of the Atlanta Opera House into the Kit Kat Klub, a decadent cabaret where singer Sally Bowles entertained Berlin’s elite in the 1930s. Erik Teague, the designer responsible for the whimsical costumes of last spring’s production of THREEPENNY OPERA, will take care of the costumes.
A versatile singer-songwriter also capable in opera houses and on Broadway, Curt Olds will sing the role of the flamboyant Emcee. He has been seen in productions ranging from Don Pasquale and The Magic Flute to musicals such as A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC by Sondheim, THE THREEPENNY OPERA and RIVERDANCE by Broadway. Hailed by Opera News as “a wonderful singer actor, as skilled at pointing dialogue as at phrasing a song,” Olds recently performed the role of Monsieur André on the PHANTOM OF THE OPERA world tour.
Actor and tenor Anthony Laciura will sing the role of Herr Schultz, the old owner of a fruit shop. With more than 800 performances at the Metropolitan Opera, Laciura has taken his opera talents to travel around the world, singing supporting roles in several of the canon’s most famous operas, including LE MARIAGE DE FIGARO, LA FLUTE MAGIQUE, CARMEN, TURANDOT and FALSTAFF. From 2010 to 2013, he was seen on the HBO television series Boardwalk Empire as Butler Eddie Kessler.
The rest of the casting has not yet been announced.
In CABARET’s repertoire there will be the Atlanta premiere of Laura Kaminsky’s critically acclaimed chamber opera AS ONE, “One of the 35 Best Classical Composers” (Washington Post), in which two voices – Hannah After (mezzo-soprano) and Hannah Before (baritone) – share the role of a single transgender protagonist. Kaminsky’s music is set to a libretto by Mark Campbell and transgender filmmaker-librettist Kimberly Reed, who also created the multimedia opera film. Since its world premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, AS ONE has become America’s most produced modern opera.
Transgender baritone Lucia Lucas – recognized as a “rising star” (The Guardian) with “a voice that can rock the rafters with her power, without ever sacrificing subtlety of expression” (Tulsa World) – sings the role of Hannah Before. Lucas sang the title role in DON GIOVANNI with Tulsa Opera in 2019, becoming the first trans woman to sing a lead opera role on an American stage. The performance was the subject of James Kicklighter’s feature documentary, THE SOUND OF IDENTITY.
Blythe Gaissert, American mezzo-soprano and expert in new classical music, will perform the role of Hannah After, a role she has sung in eight previous productions, including the 2019 version at the New York City Opera. Known for her “rich, earthy voice and dramatic skills” (Broadway World), as well as for her impeccable musicality and technical prowess, Gaissert is “impossible to ignore” (Denver Post).
During last fall’s Big Tent series, Atlanta Opera’s first foray into its bespoke venue was hailed by ArtsATL as “a welcome breath of fresh air, literally and figuratively.” Whatever the state of the pandemic next spring, for the productions of the Discoveries series, the large tent is the ideal choice. Zvulun explains:
“Over the past year, the Big Tent has become our favorite ‘home away from home’. We really enjoyed playing in a venue that we can set up almost anywhere and easily turn into a Texas saloon one night and Victorian London the next. And the public response has been out of this world. I don’t think anyone is ready to see the Big Tent in storage, certainly not me. The large tent will be pitched on the grounds of the Atlanta Opera House at 1575 Northside Drive, less than half a mile from I-75.
About these tickets …
Tickets for CABARET start at $ 50 while tickets for AS ONE start at $ 15. Tickets go on sale Tuesday, August 17 at 10 a.m. and can be purchased at atlantaopera.org or by calling 404-881-8885. Both operas will be performed in English with English surtitles.
Visit AtlantaOpera.org for more information on the entire season.