Zvulun himself seems most intrigued by “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs,” a 2017 work by Mason Bates and Mark Campbell. It is only the second production of this much-heralded opera.
The production is a collaboration between the Atlanta Opera, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City and the Austin Opera, and the same cast will perform the Steve Jobs story in all three cities. In Atlanta, the opera will be performed at the Ferst Center for the Arts, through the support of Georgia Tech, an apt partner in this saga of art and science.
The new Atlanta Opera season is similarly balanced between the tried-and-true and the brand-new.
It begins this November with “La Bohème” by Giacomo Puccini, a revival of the 2015 production by the Atlanta Opera, with soprano Jessica Nuccio making her U.S. debut.
The main stage presentations continue in January, 2021 with Gioachino Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville,” featuring tenor Santiago Ballerini and baritone Theo Hoffman.
What Zvulun calls a "crossover" offering comes in March, 2021 with a new production of the Rogers and Hammerstein musical, "The Sound of Music," directed by Francesca Zambello. The production will debut this summer at the Glimmerglass Festival.
“This is kind of a trend,” said Zvulun. “Opera companies are programming crossover pieces, attracting new audiences, and the audiences are eager to see those famous titles in a high-quality level, with an orchestra that is a world-class orchestra, and singers who are sometimes miked, sometimes not miked.”
In May 2021 comes “Das Rheingold,” a 2.5-hour adventure with no intermission, directed by Zvulun. In the four-part Ring Cycle, “Das Rheingold” serves as an overture, stating the main themes, introducing the characters, setting the dramatic machinery in motion.
With gods and monsters, dwarves and treasure, “Das Rheingold” is action-movie-accessible, said Zvulun. “It’s a very Lord of the Rings world. It has mythology and adventure; it’s perfect for new audiences.”
All the Mainstage Series productions will be presented at the 2,750-seat Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.
While satisfying the popular demand for the classical repertory with the Mainstage Series, Zvulun has continued to champion new work, presenting opera by living composers in smaller venues as part of the Discoveries Series.
The Discoveries programming this season will bring "The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs," to the 969-seat Ferst Center in February 2021, and the chamber opera, "As One," to the 156-seat Out Front Theater.
“As One” is about a transgender woman, Hannah, coming to terms with her identity. It is written for two voices, a baritone representing “Hannah Before” and a mezzo-soprano as “Hannah After.” Both singers, accompanied by a string quartet, are on stage before and after Hannah’s transition. Opera News writes that the device “allows us to see Hannah as she presents herself to the world and as she feels she truly is.”
“As One” has become one of the most-produced operas by a living composer, and Zvulun expects sold-out performances.
Since Zvulun arrived as the new artistic director in 2013, the annual budget for the Atlanta Opera has increased from $5 million to $10 million, the number of yearly productions from three to six, and the number of performances from 12 to 32.
Atlanta’s presentations have begun to attract national attention, and 2017’s “The Flying Dutchman” (by Wagner) and this year’s “Salome” (by Richard Strauss, which will be staged Jan. 25-Feb. 2) has put local opera on the radar of international fans of the German composers. “Quite a few German repertory fans are flying in to see ‘Salome’,” said Zvulun, and more will be traveling for “Das Rheingold.”
“The Atlanta Opera has become an interesting opera company,” he said, “that tackles operatic masterpieces that are scary to tackle, like ‘Dutchman’ and ‘Rheingold’ and yet not shy from programming chamber pieces that prompt discussion.”
Atlanta Opera’s 2020-2021 season
"La Bohème" by Giacomo Puccini. Nov. 7, 10, 13 and 15 in 2020. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. 770-916-2800, cobbenergycentre.com.
"The Barber of Seville" by Gioachino Rossini. Jan. 23, 26, 29 and 31, 2021; Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.
"The Sound of Music" by Rogers and Hammerstein. March 6, 9, 12 and 14, 2021; Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.
"Das Rheingold" by Richard Wagner. May 1, 4, 7 and 9, 2021. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.
"The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs" by Mason Bates and Mark Campbell. A co-production with Lyric Opera of Kansas City and Austin Opera. Feb. 11-14, 2021. Ferst Center for the Arts at Georgia Tech. 349 Ferst Drive NW, Atlanta (on the Georgia Tech campus). 404-894-2787, arts.gatech.edu.
"As One" by Laura Kaminsky, Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed. March 26, 28, April 1 and 3, 2021. Out Front Theatre, 999 Brady Ave. NW, Atlanta. outfronttheatre.com, 404-448-2755.