ArtsATL Review: Atlanta Symphony and Runnicles summon pathos of Shostakovich

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster David Coucheron played strong lines on the Shostakovich piece. (Photo courtesy Atlanta Symphony Orchestra) NOVEMBER 12, 2019 Despite the claim of composer Dmitri Shostakovich that his final symphony contained no extra-musical meaning, doubt remains. Post-glasnost realizations make it more likely that his Symphony No. 15, which premiered in 1972, encompasses programmatic significance camouflaged by a masterful composer then at the height of his creative powers. On Saturday evening, Principal Guest Conductor Donald Runnicles and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra performed Shostakovich’s distilled work — riddled with musical allusions and quotations, musical monograms and codes — alongside Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, featuring…

ArtsATL.com Review: The Atlanta Opera’s “Cinderella” hits — and misses — a magical touch

Dale Travis, center, as Don Magnifico, flanked by Elizabeth Sarian as Tisbe (left) and Bryn Holdsworth as Clorinda (Photos by Raftermen Photography) NOVEMBER 5, 2019 Everyone loves a good fairy tale. They’re relatable, tapping into deeply human themes like true love, heroism and justice. But there’s always an element of enchantment underlying a good fairy tale too — perhaps a magical transformation or a character in disguise. Cinderella is just one of those timeless tales. The story, adapted by Walt Disney as most of us know it, was originally penned by Charles Perrault in 1697. Yet long before Disney gave…

Review: The Atlanta Opera’s “Frida” is a bold and provocative work

Ricardo Herrera and Catalina Cuervo depict the torrid marriage between Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. (Photos by Rafterman Photography) Mexican painter Frida Kahlo didn’t know that her art was surrealistic until the French poet André Breton told her. In Breton’s estimation, whether it was a self-portrait or a collection of images within What the Water Gave Me, Kahlo accomplished a creativity unhindered by realism. Now more than a half-century later, Kahlo’s work and sense of fashion are considered iconic, and Robert Xavier Rodriguez’s opera Frida, which premiered at the American Music Theater Festival in 1991, has emerged from a hibernation of sorts. On…

An Unlikely Collaboration

In 1996 Deutsche Grammophon released an album called, “Honey and Rue” featuring soprano Kathleen Battle, then at the summit of her career.  I purchased it at an independent record store during the final year of my undergraduate vocal studies at a small, southern college.  I can still remember the CD cover.  Kathleen Battle, sporting a 1960s-era flip, resting her chin on her hands and looking like the girl next door. It was an album of American music, offering Samuel Barber’s “Knoxville, Summer of 1915”, selections from George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, and a new work by André Previn.  I listened…

Review of AO’s La Traviata in the July Issue of Opera News Online

ATLANTA OPERA capped its thirty-ninth season with Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata, presented at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in a lavish co-production with Seattle Opera, Washington National Opera, the Glimmerglass Festival and Indiana University (seen May 3). A triumvirate of important artists—director Francesca Zambello and designers Peter Davison and Jess Goldstein—collaborated to reimagine Violetta Valéry’s tragic demise. Scenic designer Davison accomplished both visual splendor and functional efficiency with almost twenty hulking, triangular prisms that rotated, transforming Violetta’s elegant salon to a stark hospital or a charming country house. Goldstein’s thoughtful costume design updated Violetta’s story to the belle époque and conveyed the glamourous…

In the May 2019 Issue of Opera News: AO’s Dead Man Walking

Michael Mayes and Jamie Barton in AO’s Dead Man  © Jeff Roffman ATLANTA OPERA continued its 2018–19 season with Dead Man Walking, the adaptation by Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally of Sister Helen Prejean’s memoir recounting her prison ministry at the Angola State Penitentiary in Louisiana in the early 1980s. On February 2, with both the composer and Sister Helen in the audience, and a cast filled with first-class singers, the company presented a gritty, unsettling show, a coproduction with the Israeli Opera, directed by AO general and artistic director Tomer Zvulun. Dead Man presents an onstage rape and murder (as well as brief…

Lawrence Brownlee And Eric Owens Set The Gold Standard At Schwartz Center

Lawrence Brownlee and Eric Owens performed at the Schwartz Center on March 22. MARCH 25, 2019 Atlanta is a city that attracts international artists. They visit us frequently, charming and edifying us with their artistry before moving on to the next city. But sometimes Atlanta is home base for these A-list musicians, as is the case for operatic tenor Lawrence Brownlee, who performed with bass-baritone Eric Owens at Emory University’s Schwartz Center on March 22 before an appreciative audience that included Brownlee’s friends and family, including his eight-year-old son Caleb, who listened backstage. It was arguably one of the finest vocal recitals heard in Atlanta…

Jamie Barton Returns Home To Sing In The Atlanta Opera’s Dead Man Walking

  Jamie Barton Returns Home To Sing In The Atlanta Opera’s Dead Man Walking STEPHANIE ADRIANJANUARY 29, 2019 IN CONVERSATIONMUSICMUSIC – FEATUREDMUSIC – IN CONVERSATION Opera is no stranger to crimes of passion. However, opera also portrays the best of humanity alongside all of the human folly. The Atlanta Opera presents Jake Heggie’s production of Dead Man Walking, with Georgia native and internationally renowned mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton singing the role of Sister Helen Prejean in the Atlanta production, which runs February 2–10. Heggie’s operas always seem to offer redemption in the midst of tragedy, and Dead Man Walking appears to be no different. The contemporary opera is based…

Today on www.artsATL.com…Musicians Look Forward To Working With Ray Chen

The Next Generation Of Classical Musicians Look Forward To Working With Ray Chen STEPHANIE ADRIANJANUARY 24, 2019 IN CONVERSATIONMUSICMUSIC – FEATUREDMUSIC – IN CONVERSATION With an online presence of more than 113,000 followers on Instagram, Ray Chen is not your grandmother’s violin virtuoso. Chen arrives in Atlanta this week to play a recital of Vitali, Franck, Bach, Debussy and Ravel with pianist Riko Higuma at Emory University’s Schwartz Center on January 25, as part of the Candler Concert Series. But while in town, he’ll also teach a master class to both undergraduates and high school students affiliated with Emory’s music program.…

In the January 2019 Issue of Opera News Online…

West Side Story ATLANTA Atlanta Opera 11/3/18 ATLANTA OPERA launched its 2018-19 main stage season at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre with Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story (seen Nov. 3).  The Francesca Zambello staging, a co-production of Houston Grand Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival and Lyric Opera of Chicago, honors Bernstein’s life and work during the year of his centenary and was the highest-selling production in the Atlanta Opera’s thirty-nine-year history. Atlanta’s production maintained the integrity of the 1957 classic with the seamless stage direction of Zambello and the spellbinding choreography of Julio Monge, a cast member of Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, the 1989 show,…