EarRelevant Staff | 29 JUL 2020
In a press release this morning, The Atlanta Opera announced the formation of the Atlanta Opera Company Players, comprised of twelve world-class singers who all reside in Atlanta or the surrounding southeast region. Many of them will collaborate with the company’s leadership team to re imagine its 2020–21 season, given the looming prospect of the COVID-19 pandemic possibly continuing into next year.
In the meantime, the previously announced 2020-21 lineup will be postponed until 2021-22.
The dozen handpicked artists, who together reflect the region’s exceptional depth of talent, vitality and diversity, are sopranos Jasmine Habersham and Talise Trevigne; mezzos Jamie Barton, Daniela Mack and Megan Marino; tenors Alek Shrader and Richard Trey Smagur; baritones Michael Mayes and Reginald Smith Jr.; bass-baritone Ryan McKinny; and basses Kevin Burdette and Morris Robinson.
These twelve established professionals will serve as mentors to the six emerging young singers of this season’s Atlanta Opera Studio Artists program, who will serve as covers for their more experienced colleagues.
Together, these artists will help develop and participate in flexible, adaptable strategies for live presentations at a new open-air venue and for creative digital media alternatives, in the event live performance should once again be contraindicated by pandemic conditions. (The press release did not identify any specific open-air venues.)
To speed up development and distribution of artistic content, The Atlanta Opera has also created a digital media department. The Company Players will, be instrumental in this effort.
Tomer Zvulun, The Atlanta Opera’s general & artistic director, believes this to be a groundbreaking arrangement for the operatic field. He explains:
“Saying that these recent months have been devastating to the performing arts world is an understatement. It’s time for The Atlanta Opera to step up and create a program based in our community, that’s all about belonging and giving back. Some of the best international talent in opera lives down the street from The Atlanta Opera, and these artists want to stay home, perform here safely and connect with their community. We have been dreaming of creating a European-style ‘fest model,’ and now the time is right. There are far more world-class artists based in Atlanta and the southeast than these magnificent twelve, and we only wish we could have included them all. Together we plan to present a season full of fantastic collaborations, a sense of community pride and the potential for artistic fireworks.”
To support these changes and address the attendant challenges, The Atlanta Opera has put together a new Health and Safety Advisory Board, bringing together epidemiologists, public health specialists and doctors, including Dr. Carlos del Rio, Distinguished Professor of Medicine at Emory University, and John Haupert, president and CEO of Atlanta’s Grady Health System and Vice Chair of Georgia’s Department of Public Health, this team of experts will be on hand to advise the company as it explores new ways of maximizing artistic potential and serving the local community, while complying with all the latest safety guidelines. ■