Letter from Tomer Zvulun
In recent months I found myself thinking often of Booker T. Washington’s words: “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as much as by the obstacles which he has overcome.” The world has provided us with so many obstacles these past few months. We will only know in the future how successful we were in overcoming them.
Like so many of our fellow opera companies across the nation, we have had to make difficult decisions, and at the same time, we have persevered in creative ways that remind us why we make art in the first place.
Even as obstacles surface, we are reaffirming our core values of innovation, magic, and courage at The Atlanta Opera. Every roadblock causes us to experiment. Every impediment causes us to reflect and try to grow. We believe that these obstacles are the greatest catalysts to fulfill our company vision: reimagining opera.
So, this message today is one of reimagining opera for what it can be in a pandemic world, and beyond.
Today, we announce The Atlanta Opera Company Players. This team of twelve operatic superstars call Atlanta and the southeast home. Many have performed with The Atlanta Opera. All know what it means to look for belonging and meaning in a time of great hardship for artists throughout the world.
In the next month, we will announce a fully reimagined 2020-21 season built on ingenuity, safety and compelling opera. The Atlanta Opera Company Players represent The Atlanta Opera’s commitment to serving our community. We will find ways—in the digital and virtual worlds and, when possible, in the real world—to bring opera back to our city and our region.
Today, we also announce that our originally planned 2020-21 Mainstage and Discoveries Series season will be moved in its entirety to 2021-22. This is a grand season that deserves full audiences at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre and our partner venues throughout Atlanta. It is our wish to bring you these magnificent works as they were intended. It will unfortunately be a longer wait than we had hoped for. If you are a subscriber, we will be in touch today with detailed information for you. We believe that when we get back to our home at the Cobb Energy Center, we will be stronger than ever, and we are looking forward to sharing grand opera with you again very soon.
In the meantime, The Atlanta Opera and our Company Players are here to find ways to inspire you with the power of the human voice, the emotion that theater can provide, and the escape that we all need right now.
We cannot wait to show you what we have planned.
Superstar mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, whose honors include the Beverly Sills Artist Award, Richard Tucker Award, first prize at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition and 2020 Personality of the Year at the BBC Music Magazine Awards, is “an artist whose time truly has come” (Opera magazine). A Georgia native, last season she made her role debut as Sister Helen Prejean in The Atlanta Opera’s celebrated Southeast premiere of Dead Man Walking.
Bass Kevin Burdette has appeared in The Atlanta Opera’s stagings of Dead Man Walking and The Pirates of Penzance, in which he played the Pirate King. Dubbed “the Robin Williams of opera” (New York Times), he serves on the faculty of The Atlanta Opera Studio, the company’s first young artist program, and can be heard on the Metropolitan Opera’s Grammy- and Diapason d’Or-winning Deutsche Grammophon recording of The Tempest.
Soprano Jasmine Habersham is known to The Atlanta Opera audiences for her portrayal of Edith in The Pirates of Penzance and her creation of the role of Mariola in the world premiere of the revised Out of Darkness: Two Remain. Her numerous other credits include the Glimmerglass Festival, Cincinnati Opera, Kentucky Opera, Minnesota Opera, and Utah Opera, where she was recently hailed as a “cast standout” (Opera News) as Pip in Moby Dick.
With “a voice like polished onyx: strong, dark, deep and gleaming” (Opera News), mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack has created leading roles in the world premieres of Elizabeth Cree and JFK. She has appeared at houses including the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Los Angeles Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin and Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, as well as collaborating with orchestras including the Chicago and Boston Symphonies and the New York Philharmonic.
American-Italian mezzo-soprano Megan Marino is a “gifted actress with a strong, appealing voice graced by a rich lower register” (Opera News). Her recent credits include the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Opéra National de Paris and the Atlanta Opera, where she made her company debut as Olga in Eugene Onegin.
Baritone Michael Mayes, for whom “the word powerful cannot be overused” (Huffington Post), is a firm Atlanta favorite. He headlined the company’s recent hit productions of Sweeney Todd and Dead Man Walking, in which his definitive portrait of De Rocher has also wowed audiences from Washington DC to London and Madrid. He would have co-directed and starred in the Atlanta premiere of Glory Denied this spring, if the pandemic hadn’t necessitated its cancellation.
“One of the finest singers of his generation” (Opera News), bass-baritone Ryan McKinny made his house and title role debuts in Dead Man Walking at Lyric Opera of Chicago last fall. Other recent highlights include Amfortas in Parsifal at Bayreuth, the European premiere of Girls of the Golden West at Dutch National Opera, multiple engagements at the Metropolitan Opera, and Das Rheingold at Opéra de Montréal, which marked his first Wotan.
Atlanta native Morris Robinson boasts a bass “so deep and assured it’s as if a vibration goes through the audience every time he opens his mouth” (Globe and Mail, Canada). Having made his Atlanta Opera debut in Aida, he returned to sing Sparafucile in Rigoletto and the male lead in Porgy and Bess, which was previously the vehicle for his acclaimed debut at La Scala. Also a familiar face at the Metropolitan Opera, he recently starred at the house as Sarastro in The Magic Flute.
“One of the most naturalistic actors among opera singers,” tenor Alek Shrader “is distinguished by a simultaneous lyricism and verve” (Opera News). He has appeared at the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Bavarian State Opera and Salzburg and Glyndebourne festivals. Besides collaborating with the Cleveland Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra and Los Angeles Philharmonic, he has been presented in recital by Carnegie Hall, San Francisco Performances and London’s Wigmore Hall.
Richard Trey Smagur
Known for his “attractive lyric tenor” and “vivid presence” (Opera Today), since winning the 2017 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, tenor and Georgia native Richard Trey Smagur has graced the stages of Houston Grand Opera, Santa Fe Opera and Wolf Trap Opera, as well as collaborating with orchestras including the National, Houston and Dallas Symphonies.
Reginald Smith Jr.
Baritone and Atlanta native Reginald Smith Jr. has “one of the most exciting baritone sounds to come along in years” (Opera News). A Grand Finals winner of the 2015 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, he launched the present season with his Metropolitan Opera debut as Jim in Porgy and Bess, before singing Jake in the Atlanta Opera production of the same opera.
Grammy-nominated soprano Talise Trevigne made her Lyric Opera of Chicago debut last fall, before reprising her star turn as the female lead in The Atlanta Opera’s spring staging of Porgy and Bess. Besides creating key roles in the world premieres of Moby-Dick, JFK, Proving Up and It’s A Wonderful Life, she has headlined productions on both sides of the Atlantic, proving herself “a Butterfly worthy of mention alongside Maria Callas” (Voix des Arts).