“Dangerous liaisons” is the overarching theme of The Atlanta Opera’s landmark 40th anniversary season. From Puccini’s Cio-Cio San to Rodríguez’s Frida Kahlo, most of the featured protagonists share a propensity for self-destructive relationships that threaten to bring about their downfall.
The 2019-20 season also represents something of a homecoming for four world-class artists, showcasing Atlanta natives Morris Robinson and Jennifer Larmore, University of Georgia graduate Jennifer Holloway and Atlanta Opera Studio alumnus Santiago Ballerini, besides marking the returns of local favorites Emily Fons, Michael Mayes, Gianluca Terranova and Catalina Cuervo and the company debut of Japan’s Yasko Sato.
The 2019-20 lineup also boasts a pair of new-to-Atlanta operas in the Discoveries series.
The Atlanta premieres of two recent American operas – “Frida” (1991) and “Glory Denied” (2007) – round out the season in the Discoveries series, which breaks down barriers between artists and their audience by providing authentic, intimate and immersive experiences in nontraditional spaces. An International Opera Award nomination, the series represents one of the many innovations behind the company’s current wave of extraordinary creative and economic resurgence.
First up is the Atlanta premiere of “Frida” Oct 5, 9, 11 and 13 at the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center at City Springs. It’s composed by Robert Xavier Rodríguez, whose honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship and the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters’ Goddard Lieberson Award.
The second event in the 2019-20 Discoveries series is the Atlanta premiere of “Glory Denied” May 21 through 24 at a location to be determined. It was composed by Tom Cipullo, the winner of a 2012 Guggenheim Fellowship, the 2013 Sylvia Goldstein Award from Copland House, and the 2013 Arts & Letters Award from the American Academy.
Four mainstage productions anchor the season, with the company premieres of acclaimed takes on “La Cenerentola” and “Porgy and Bess,” the return of Atlanta’s original staging of “Madama Butterfly,” and the world-premiere presentation of a new production of “Salome” by Tomer Zvulun, the company’s general and artistic director.
Those performances will take place at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.
“We are keeping our commitments to our audiences this season,” Zvulun said in a news release. “First, we're staging classic works by Puccini, Rossini and Strauss, but in new and different ways, as part of our commitment to classic opera. Second, we have chosen to stage the Gershwin's larger-than-life operatic musical, ‘Porgy and Bess,’ as part of our commitment to bringing new and different audiences into the world of The Atlanta Opera.
“Third, we're producing our largest Discoveries season yet, with the story of the Mexican icon Frida Kahlo. Finally, we're deepening our commitment to our veterans and active duty service members by closing our Discoveries season with ‘Glory Denied,’ the story of the longest-held prisoner of war in American history."
The Atlanta Opera inaugurates the 2019-20 mainstage season Nov. 2, 5, 8 and 10 with the company premiere of Joan Font’s iconic treatment of “La Cenerentola,” Rossini’s beloved bel canto fairytale adaptation. A co-production of Houston Grand Opera, Welsh National Opera, Liceu Opera Barcelona and Grand Théâtre de Genève, the Spanish director’s cartoonlike, faux-Rococo staging impressed Opera News as both “adorable” and “enchanting.”
Next up is “Salome,” Richard Strauss’ sublimely heady, romantic take on Oscar Wilde’s twisted biblical tale of lust, incest, seduction and power. This world-premiere presentation of a new production by Zvulun stars Holloway, following the soprano’s triumphs in the title role at Semperoper Dresden, Bilbao Opera, Leipzig Opera and England’s Opera North, where she gave “an outstanding central performance.”
Continuing its new annual commitment to showcasing great operatic voices in musical theater, The Atlanta Opera presents George and Ira Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” in the company premiere of Francesca Zambello’s celebrated production. Originally created for Washington National Opera, this has since been seen on PBS, on DVD and at companies including Lyric Opera of Chicago.
To conclude the mainstage season, Zvulun’s staging of “Madama Butterfly” returns May 2, 5, 8 and 10, this time showcasing Yasko Sato in the title role. The Japanese soprano has already headlined the opera in cities including Tokyo, Florence and Seattle.
Tickets are on sale for “Frida,” and the other 2019-20 productions’ tickets will go on sale at a future date. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.atlantaopera.org.