Kevin Burdette: Love Letter to Atlanta

Duration: 2:25
Composer: Frederick Loewe
Librettist: Alan Jay Lerner
Premiere Date: Oct 1, 1960
Premiere Location: O'Keefe Centre, Toronto, Canada

Kevin Burdette’s Atlanta has a hidden gem with a storied past. Burdette sings “If Ever I Would Leave You” from the beloved Lerner and Loewe musical Camelot, honoring one of his favorite vocal heroes, Cesare Siepi, another bass who adopted Atlanta as his hometown.

Burdette has chosen to perform in the Atlanta Civic Center Auditorium. The massive theater, now poignantly empty and closed to the public, hosted operatic legends during the Metropolitan Opera’s wildly successful summer opera tour, an annual residency that lasted for more than 75 years. In fact, the auditorium itself was built in 1967 in order to accommodate the throngs of opera lovers who attended each year.

Burdette’s performance is the second of a series of twelve Love Letters to Atlanta, featuring the stellar Atlanta Opera Company Players.

Each Love Letter includes a visually stunning capture of a song with great meaning to the singer in a space that has great meaning to Atlanta. Interviews with the artist complete the experience.



Kevin Burdette

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.

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Rolando Salazar

Rolando Salazar was the assistant conductor, assistant chorus master, and the music administrator for the Atlanta Opera from 2017 through 2020. He has served as assistant conductor and pianist at The Bellingham Festival of Music, as assistant conductor at La Musica Lirica in Novafeltria, Italy, and as coach/conductor for the Harrower Opera Workshop.

About the Civic Center

The Atlanta Civic Center was built in 1967 on the site of Ripley Street and part of Currier Street in Atlanta. It closed in 2014. It was partly built as the city’s convention center, a role now largely filled by the state-run Georgia World Congress Center. It once hosted the annual Spring Tour of the Metropolitan Opera and served as the home of “Theatre of the Stars,” a summer series of Broadway musicals featuring well-known stars of the entertainment industry. The Balanchine production of “The Nutcracker” was performed there annually for several years. The Civic Center also served as the site for the 1996 Summer Olympics cultural program.

The Atlanta Civic Center underwent a $2 million renovation in 2001 and added “Boisfeuillet Jones” to its name in honor of Atlanta businessman and philanthropist Boisfeuillet Jones, Sr. In 2003, the Civic Center became the host for The Atlanta Opera, which moved to Cobb Energy Centre in 2007.



"If Ever I Would Leave You"

“If Ever I Would Leave You” is a show-stopping romantic ballad that begins Act II of Lerner and Loewe’s classic musical, Camelot. Robert Goulet performed it with the original Broadway cast as Lancelot, and it became his signature song for much of his career.

As we begin Act II of Camelot, Guinevere and Lancelot are still tormented by their unfulfilled love. She tries to get rid of him, but Lancelot will not leave her, (“If Ever I Would Leave You”). They both believe that Arthur is not aware of it. Nevertheless, she remains faithful to Arthur, and helps him in carrying out the affairs of State.

If ever I would leave you
It wouldn’t be in summer.
Seeing you in summer
I never would go.
Your hair streaked with sunlight,
Your lips red as flame,
Your face with a lustre
That puts gold to shame!
But if I’d ever leave you,
It couldn’t be in autumn.
How I’d leave in autumn
I never will know.
I’ve seen how you sparkle
When fall nips the air.
I know you in autumn
And I must be there.
And could I leave you
Running merrily through the snow?
Or on a wintry evening
When you catch the fire’s glow?
If ever I would leave you,
How could it be in springtime?
Knowing how in spring I’m bewitched by you so?
Oh, no! not in springtime!
Summer, winter or fall!
No, never could I leave you at all!