2014-2015 SEASON ANNOUNCEMENT AJC
Atlanta Opera leader
Tomer Zvulun puts stamp on diverse 2014-15 lineup
Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014
HOWARD POUSNER - THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION
Zvulun, entering his first full season as the
Atlanta Opera’s general and artistic director, is overseeing an
expanded number of productions, will present two programs at a trio of new
venues and is involving new collaborative partners.
“One of the keys is to have a continuous
presence,” said Zvulun, 37, who was appointed to Atlanta’s top job last June on
the strength of his directing work at major U.S. and international opera
houses. “When you do three productions a year, it’s simply not enough to stay
in people’s memory. And the other thing about extending the schedule is that it
allows us to reach different demographics.”
Tomer Zvulun is the new
Atlanta Opera general and artistic director. CONTRIBUTED BY JEFF ROFFMAN
In the 2014-15 season announced Tuesday night,
the opera will again present three masterworks in its mainstage season at Cobb
Energy Performing Arts Centre: Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” in November,
Verdi’s “Rigoletto” in February-March and Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” in
But in an attempt to build that larger presence
and diversify its offerings, the opera will bookend those performances in two
productions away from Cobb Energy. It will open the season in September with a
“Choral Silver Celebration,” honoring chorus master Walter Huff’s 25th
anniversary, to be presented at Emory University’s Schwartz Center for
Performing Arts and Kennesaw State University’s Bailey Performance Center.
The season will close in May with “Three
Decembers,” a chamber opera by American composer Jake Heggie that will be given its Southeastern premiere at
a venue to be announced.
The Israeli-born Zvulun, who will stage direct
“Madama Butterfly,” vowed that all three Cobb Energy mainstage operas will be
“freshly and newly conceived.” “Butterfly,” for instance, will include
projections and other media that will transport viewers to different locations,
“allowing us to penetrate into the soul and mind of the heroine,” along with a
set from New Orleans Opera.
The Atlanta company will have plenty of
high-profile help with its reinterpretation of “Rigoletto,” a co-production
with Boston Lyric Opera and Opera Omaha. It will be developed by Zvulun along
with accomplished designers John Conklin (set), Robert Wierzel (lighting) and Vita
Tzykun (costumes), whose credits include production design of Lady Gaga’s
Thanksgiving TV special in 2011.
“In order for us to do new, fresh productions in
those different cities, we have to put our forces together and share the costs
and collaborate,” Zvulun said of the Atlanta company, which operates on a $5
million annual budget. “It’s a win-win situation.”
He also is clearly excited about presenting
“Three Decembers.” Zvulun considers Heggie, best known for the operas “Dead Man
Walking” (2000) and “Moby-Dick” (2010), “arguably one of the leading composers
of our time.”
Based on an unpublished play by Terrence McNally
with a libretto by Gene Scheer, “Three Decembers” is a family dysfunction story
centering on a fading Broadway actress and her children. It features three
singers and an 11-member musical ensemble.
“I’m a strong believer in expanding the
repertory and introducing Atlanta audiences to different pieces,” Zvulun said.
Along with conductor Arthur Fagen and artistic
planning director Cory Lippiello, Zvulun will continue to make such
introductions as the programmers plot the 2015-16 and 2016-17 lineups.
Success at attracting audiences for contemporary
repertory would help the Atlanta Opera to return to its pre-recession practice
of presenting four operas per season at Cobb Energy, he said.
Zvulun replaced the company’s leader of eight
years, Dennis Hanthorn, who resigned abruptly in late 2012. Hanthorn’s
departure was the result of tensions with the board of directors, believed to
have been pushing for more conservative programming.
Zvulun said there was no such friction over his
diverse first season.
“I’m very lucky that my board is very
enthusiastic about the plans for next season,” he said, “and completely
supportive of them.”
OPERA’S 2014-15 SEASON
Silver Celebration,” honoring chorus master
Walter Huff’s 25th anniversary year, 8 p.m. Sept. 12 and 3 p.m. Sept. 14 at
Emory University’s Schwartz Center for Performing Arts and 7:30 p.m. Sept. 16
at Kennesaw State University’s Bailey Performance Center.
“Madama Butterfly,” 8 p.m. Nov. 8, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 11, 8 p.m. Nov. 14 , 3 p.m. Nov. 16 at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.
“Rigoletto,” 8 p.m. Feb. 28, 7:30
p.m. March 3, 8 p.m. March 6, 3 p.m. March 8 at Cobb Energy.
“The Marriage of Figaro,” 8 p.m. April 4, 7:30
p.m. April 7, 8 p.m. April 10, 3 p.m. April 12 at Cobb Energy.
Decembers,” a chamber opera by
American composer Jake Heggie, 8 p.m. May 15-16, 6 p.m. May 17 at a venue to be
Season subscriptions are available at www.atlantaopera.org.
Single tickets will be available in August.