The Company

About The Company

The Atlanta Opera’s mission is to build the major international opera company Atlanta deserves, with a vision to reimagine opera.

Founded in 1979, The Atlanta Opera celebrates its 40th anniversary in the 2019-20 season. The Opera 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 Centre and launched the acclaimed Discoveries series. In recent years, the company was recognized by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as part of its “Best of 2015” awards; it was nominated for an International Opera Award in 2016; and it won ArtsATL’s 2019 Luminary Award for Community Engagement, recognizing its successful Veterans Program in partnership with The Home Depot Foundation.

In addition, The Opera was featured in a 2018 Harvard Business School case study about successful organizational growth, and Zvulun presented a TEDx Talk at Emory University entitled “The Ambidextrous Opera Company, or Opera in the Age of iPhones.”

Our History

Atlanta’s taste for opera began in the early years of the 1900’s with the Metropolitan Opera’s annual week-long tour to Atlanta. Performing at the Auditorium-Armory, the fabulous Fox Theatre and finally the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center, the Metropolitan Opera’s annual tour was a major social event. Every night of the week featured the performance of a different opera starring opera legends including Enrico Caruso, Leontyne Price, and later, Luciano Pavarotti. The audience included a who’s who of Atlantans and was celebrated with posh parties at the Georgian Terrace, Piedmont Driving Club and other upscale venues.

In 1979, the Atlanta Civic Opera was born, a result of a merger between two competing entities, Atlanta Lyric Opera and Georgia Opera. The first artistic director was noted composer Thomas Pasatieri. The company’s first production was The Seagull on Friday, March 14, 1980 at the Fox Theatre. The following December, a festive gala was held in Symphony Hall with such noted young artists as Catherine Malfitano, Jerry Hadley and Samuel Ramey. In 1985, the company was renamed to The Atlanta Opera.

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Major Milestones

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2019

Rhys Wilson elected as Board Chair, and ArtsATL selects The Atlanta Opera as the 2019 Luminary Award recipient for the Veterans Program.

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2016

Cathy Adams becomes Board Chair, and The Opera grows to four mainstage and two Discoveries series productions. The Opera establishes its first-ever young artist program, The Atlanta Opera Studio, which includes four singers, a stage director, and pianist.

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2015

The groundbreaking Discoveries series launches with Three Decembers. The production is named a “Best of Atlanta 2015” by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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2013

Tomer Zvulun is appointed as the Atlanta Opera’s new General & Artistic Director. Walter Huff, the company’s acclaimed Chorus Master, celebrates 25 years with The Atlanta Opera. The Atlanta Opera receives a $9 million bequest from longtime board member Barbara D. Stewart.

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2008

The Atlanta Opera Chorus performs at the Opera-Comique in Paris, in Granada and Cannes in a production of Porgy and Bess.

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2007

As the first resident company of Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, The Atlanta Opera opens the 2007-2008 season with an acclaimed production of Turandot.

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2004

Dennis Hanthorn takes on the role of General Director, while The Atlanta Opera celebrates its 25th anniversary as an opera company.

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2003

Atlanta Opera opens its 2003-04 season with AIDA at the 4,591-seat Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center.

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2001

The Atlanta Opera hosts the 31st Annual OPERA America Conference.

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1997

The Atlanta Opera hits $1 million mark in ticket sales for a single season.

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1995

The Atlanta Opera moves to the 4,518-seat Fox Theatre – the largest indoor venue for opera in the U.S. Faust is the debut production in the new home. Alfred Kennedy is appointed as the company’s Executive Director; serving in this role until he retired in 2004.

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1990

The Atlanta Opera moves to the 1,748-seat Symphony Hall.

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1986

Alfred Kennedy named as General Manager, serving in this role until 1995.

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1985

The Atlanta Opera appoints William Fred Scott as Artistic Advisor, he later becomes the company’s Artistic Director.

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1985

Alfred Kennedy is appointed President of the Board of Directors of The Atlanta Civic Opera Association.

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1979

Internal Revenue Service grants The Atlanta Civic Opera its 501(c)(3) status and the company officially begins. A few years later, it becomes The Atlanta Opera.