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…

Review of Out of Darkness: Two Remain – July 2018, Opera News Online

OPERAS COMPOSED BY JAKE HEGGIE are becoming standard fare in Atlanta. This spring, Atlanta Opera collaborated with Atlanta’s Theatrical Outfit to present Jake Heggie’s two-act Out of Darkness: Two Remain as part of its Discoveries Series at the Balzer Theater at Herren’s (seen Apr. 13). Out of Darkness is a provocative work. Sparked by a commission from Seattle’s Music of Remembrance a decade ago, the opera began as a single song “A Hundred Thousand Stars,” and gradually morphed into three song cycles—“For a Look and a Touch,” “Another Sunrise” and “Farewell Auschwitz.” In 2016, Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer transformed the dramatic and musical content…

In the July 2018 Issue of Opera News Online

ATLANTA OPERA HAS NOT presented Carmen—one of the most frequently performed operas in the world repertory—since 2012, when the company was desperately in search of new leadership. This spring, the company, now under the care of general and artistic director Tomer Zvulun, revived Georges Bizet’s classic at the Cobb Energy Centre with a cast that included Franco-Armenian mezzo-soprano Varduhi Abrahamyan in her American debut as Carmen (seen May 4). Evidently constrained by budget limitations, Zvulun utilized the exact same Allen Charles Klein Carmen sets that we saw six years ago.  Although initially disappointing, this reiteration was forgiven as the caliber of singing in this…

In the May 2018 Issue of Opera News…

La Fille du Régiment ATLANTA Atlanta Opera 2/24/18 Chuchman and Ballerini, Marie and Tonio in Atlanta  © Jeff Roffman ATLANTA OPERA offered a lighthearted version of Gaetano Donizetti’s Fille du Régiment as its second main-stage production of the 2017–18 season at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre (seen Feb. 24). Artistic and general director Tomer Zvulun infused this charming opéra comique with a bit of celebrity by enlisting a band of impressive artists for Atlanta Opera debuts, including Andriana Chuchman as Marie, Stephanie Blythe as the Marquise of Berkenfield and conductor Christopher Allen. Stage director E. Loren Meeker delivered a vibrant show with…

ArtsATL Review: Soprano Julia Bullock pushes through opera stereotypes in Spivey Hall recital

 Apr 10, 2018 Julia Bullock mixed the blues of Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday and Nina Simone into her program at Spivey Hall. (Photo by Dario Acosta) Soprano Julia Bullock has a dilemma. Opera is all about stereotypes a.k.a. fach — role classification based upon a classical singer’s vocal and sometimes physical attributes. (i.e. Does she look more like a strapping Brünnhilde or a dainty nymph?) Bullock’s light, yet earthy sound, prettiness and petite stature place her squarely in the middle of a group of singers the likes of Dawn Upshaw, Barbara Bonney, and Kathleen Battle. She’s a shoe-in for operatic roles like Pamina (Mozart)…

from www.artsatl.com…Review: Mezzo-soprano Susan Graham affirms the art of classical song at Schwartz recital

February 6, 2018 By Stephanie Adrian   Some may say that classical art song is outdated, irrelevant to our modern times and lives. After all, it’s a musical form firmly rooted in the nineteenth century, poetry set to music, performed by an opera singer and a pianist. (Perhaps not as captivating as the latest royal romance or the outcome of the Super Bowl?) But on Saturday evening at Emory University’s Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts, mezzo-soprano Susan Graham and pianist Bradley Moore turned such provincial thinking on its ear, presenting a thematic recital that was immensely relevant. The duo took perhaps…

From the January Issue of Opera News Online: Der Fliegende Holländer

IN 1839, when the emergent city of Atlanta was not yet Atlanta, but a destination at the end of a railroad line, Richard Wagner and his wife Minna were an ocean away, in the midst of a harrowing sea voyage that landed them in the Norwegian port of Sandviken. It was an experience that prompted Wagner to compose Der Fliegende Holländer in his Paris apartment over the next several years. Holländer is the opera that initially drew stage director Tomer Zvulun to Atlanta in 2009. Now in his current role as artistic and general director of the Atlanta Opera, Zvulun has collaborated with Houston Grand…

From the December 2017 Issue of Opera News Online

The Seven Deadly Sins THE ATLANTA OPERA launched its 2017-18 season on October 1 at the Maison Rouge, with Atlanta native Jennifer Larmore starring in a stark rendition of Kurt Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins. The production is part of this season’s AO Discoveries Series, which will complement this season’s mainstage fare—The Flying Dutchman, Daughter of the Regiment, Sweeney Todd, and Carmen—as general and artistic director Tomer Tvulun takes the company in new directions, exploring risky repertoire in both traditional and non-traditional opera venues throughout metro Atlanta.   The Seven Deadly Sins is a mere thirty-five minutes in length and Atlanta Opera augmented the evening…

A Case for the Music Critics

Graduate school field trips are rare.  Gone are the yellow school buses of our youth that once promised a venture to the zoo or the pumpkin patch, releasing us from the confinement of a classroom.  And yet, back in graduate school I had one professor who knew better, taking her opera history class of twenty-somethings on the field trip of all field trips.  We spent an evening in the back room of John Ardoin’s house in Dallas, sitting cross-legged on the floor like a group of captivated kindergarteners.  The walls were lined with hundreds, perhaps thousands of LPs.  John thoughtfully…

In www.artsatl.com…Spivey Hall kicks off season in perfect harmony with vocal group Chanticleer

Oct 10, 2017   Within his notorious Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer gave us “The Nun’s Priest’s Tale” in which the rooster Chanticleer learns the hard way that one should never trust a flatterer. On Sunday afternoon, Spivey Hall opened its 2017–18 season with a performance by the men’s classical vocal ensemble that borrowed its name from Chaucer’s story. Chanticleer has become known for its stunning sound and staggering breadth of repertoire since its founding by Louis Botto in 1978. Now, after almost 40 years, a discography of more than 40 recordings and three Grammy Awards, Chanticleer is likely no stranger to flattery — yet…