By stephanieadrian

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,…

From Opera News Online December 2018: Charlie Parker’s Yardbird at the Atlanta Opera

THE ATLANTA OPERA launched its 2018-19 season at Le Maison Rouge at Paris on Ponce with Charlie Parker’s Yardbird, a “bebopera” by Swiss composer Daniel Schnyder and librettist Bridgette A. Wimberly. (seen Sept. 30) Commissioned by Opera Philadelphia for tenor Lawrence Brownlee, the ninety-minute, one-act opera had its premiere in Philadelphia in 2015 and has received subsequent performances at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Madison Opera and English National Opera. Like André Previn, Schnyder has demonstrated how satisfying opera singing juxtaposed against jazz idioms can be. Echoes of Parker’s own musical riffs were laced throughout the score; it…

Today on www.artsATL.com…Q&A: A chat with Michael O’Neal as his vaunted choral group launches its 30th year

October 9, 2018 The Michael O’Neal Singers kicks off its 30th year with a concert Sunday. It’s 8:30 on a Monday night, and conductor Michael O’Neal is standing in front of a symphonic chorus of 145 singers at Roswell United Methodist Church. Looking up from his score, he says, “Basses, because I’ve been hard on you this evening, let me say that pages 8 and 9 were particularly lovely just now.” The basses smile. O’Neal is a friendly guy, but he won’t give a compliment unless he means it. O’Neal founded the Michael O’Neal Singers in 1989, not only contributing to the…

From the September 2018 Issue of Opera News…

Sweeney Todd ATLANTA Atlanta Opera 6/16/18 THE ATLANTA OPERA’S 2017-18 season lineup has showcased unconventional heroes: Weill’s Anna, Wagner’s Dutchman, Donizetti’s Marie, and Bizet’s Carmen. Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd was a fitting close to this season of antiheroes (seen June 16) and attracted a broad audience to the Cobb Energy Performing to attend the tale, performed by opera singers of distinction. Sweeney Todd was long the stuff of urban legend and nineteenth-century “penny dreadfuls,” but Sondheim’s 1979 adaption of the Christopher Bond play magnified the Demon Barber of Fleet Street to operatic proportions. Atlanta Opera resurrected Harold Prince’s Broadway version of Sweeney Todd, staged here by…