Firing on All Cylinders, The Atlanta Opera Returns to the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre for 2021-22, with Programming Embracing Optimism, Inspiration, and Escapism

The Opera Stages its Return to Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre

The Innovative and Popular Big Tent Will Make an Encore Appearance

Speakeysie News Desk – May 26, 2021

ATLANTA –After a year of innovative, imaginative, and acclaimed performances under the Big Tent, The Atlanta Opera celebrates its triumphant return to the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre with a season of escapist mainstage productions.

“The tent gave us the opportunity to take incredible artistic risks. We really had a chance to break rules, experiment, innovate, and let our creativity take us to new places,” said Tomer Zvulun, the Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. General and Artistic Director at The Atlanta Opera. “We have emerged from the 2020-21 season with incredible momentum and excitement for what we can do in the future. It is now time for us to harness the innovations we created during the pandemic, toward the most uplifting season in recent memory.”

With four productions under the Big Tent during the 2020-21 season, the company spent the season developing new skills that can lift future productions to new levels.

“We wanted to celebrate our return to the mainstage with beloved works that are full of optimism and adventure. Following the longest winter in a forced exile, we feel the need to laugh, forget and be inspired,” Zvulun added.

The company will return to Cobb Energy Centre in November with four colorful, uplifting productions. The Mainstage season features Handel’s Julius Caesar, never before staged by The Atlanta Opera, plus Rossini’s beloved The Barber of Seville, the rollicking return of The Pirates of Penzance, and the Southeastern premiere of Grammy award-winning The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs.

The Discoveries series will also be announced at a later date. Meanwhile, at least two of the innovations necessitated by the pandemic prove their staying power: the “Big Tent” series will continue the momentum of the current season in the fall while easing audiences back into the indoor venue, and the company’s commitment to streaming opera productions is now a permanent feature of its operations. Not only will select mainstage and Discoveries productions be filmed, but digital-only shorts and features will also be created, with all the new content streamed on the Spotlight Media platform. Far from languishing during the challenges of the past year, The Atlanta Opera emphatically rose and continues to rise to the occasion, only reinforcing its reputation as “one of the most exciting opera companies in America” (Opera Wire).

At the same time, health and safety remains a priority for The Atlanta Opera. The company will continue to rely on the advice and direction of its health and safety team led by Emory University’s Dr. Carlos del Rio in setting those standards for each production.


The Mainstage opens in November with Handel’s Baroque masterpiece Julius Caesar, a revival of a production Zvulun first created in a 12th century fortress built during the Crusades for The Israeli Opera. A collaboration with renowned choreographer Donald Byrd and set and costume designers Alexander Lisyansky and Mattie Ullrich, the production will have its US premiere this fall. Loosely based on events during the Roman Civil War of 49-45 BC, this story traces Caesar’s love affair with Cleopatra as she struggles to become the ruler of Egypt. Like Game of Thrones without dragons, Julius Caesar is about power and intrigues, sex, love and violence. Directed by Zvulun, the production will be led by conductor and Baroque specialist Gary Wedow. Soprano Jasmine Habersham, singled out for her “expansive, clarion voice” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution), will sing the role of Cleopatra while mezzo-soprano Megan Marino, a gifted actress with a “crystalline” and “powerful” voice (Bachtrack), will play Sesto Pompeo, who seeks to avenge the murder of his father, the Roman general Pompeo.

In January, The Atlanta Opera takes to the high seas with the pirates who take pity on orphans, with a lively production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s comic opera, The Pirates of Penzance. The first opera to sell out five nights for The Atlanta Opera when it last appeared in 2016, the return of Seán Curran’s colorful production features Atlanta favorite Santiago Ballerini, recognized as one of the leading tenors in the bel canto repertoire, sings Frederic, the pirate apprentice with an unfortunate birthday.

Next, the company stages The Barber of Seville, Rossini’s perennially popular comedy of errors, in a revival of the highly stylized staging by Michael Shell that impressed Opera News as “hilariously delightful with every random turn.” Combining Rossini’s bubbly and world-famous score with inspiration drawn from the work of acclaimed Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar, this production transports audiences to a pop-culture world populated by outrageous characters and one pampered rooster. Rising mezzo-soprano Stephanie Lauricella, who recently joined the roster at the Metropolitan Opera in 2020 and last sang in Atlanta with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in 2019, will sing the role of Rosina. The Atlanta Opera music director Arthur Fagen will lead the production.

The Mainstage season concludes in May with the Southeast premiere of Zvulun’s new production of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, winner of the 2019 Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording. Written by Kennedy Center Composer-in-Residence Mason Bates to a libretto by Silent Night’s Mark Campbell(R)evolution follows the visionary Apple co-founder as he looks back on his life and career and confronts his own mortality. While Bates’s work was received as an important new addition to the world of opera, Zvulun’s new treatment is just the second production to date, demonstrating that the opera has the kind of durability that places it firmly within the canon. Featuring sets and costumes by Jacob Climer and projections by S. Katy Tucker – the creative team behind The Atlanta Opera’s memorable The Flying Dutchman – (R)evolution is co-produced with Lyric Opera of Kansas City and Austin Opera.

Subscriptions to the Mainstage season are now available at

Atlanta Opera: 2021-22 Season

November 6, 9, 12, 14, 2021
Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
George Frideric Handel: Julius Caesar

Conductor: Gary Wedow
Director: Tomer Zvulun
Set design: Alexander Lisyansky
Costume design: Mattie Ullrich
Choreography: Donald Byrd

January 22, 25, 28, 30, 2022
Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
W.S. Gilbert & Arthur Sullivan: The Pirates of Penzance

Conductor: Francesco Milioto
Director: Seán Curran
Set design: James Schuette
Costume design: James Schuette

March 5, 8, 11, 13, 2022
Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
Gioachino Rossini: The Barber of Seville

Conductor: Arthur Fagen
Director: Michael Shell
Set design: Shoko Kambara
Costume design: Amanda Seymour

April 30, May 3, 6, 8, 2022
Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
Mason Bates & Mark Campbell: The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs (new production; Southeast premiere)

A co-production with Lyric Opera of Kansas City and Austin Opera
Conductor: Michael Christie
Director: Tomer Zvulun
Set design: Jacob Climer
Costume design: Jacob Climer
Projection design: S. Katy Tucker

About The Atlanta Opera

The Atlanta Opera’s mission is to build the major international opera company that Atlanta deserves, while reimagining what opera can be. Founded in 1979, the company works with world-renowned singers, conductors, directors, and designers who seek to enhance the art form. Under the leadership of internationally recognized stage director and Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. General & Artistic Director Tomer Zvulun, The Atlanta Opera expanded from three to four mainstage productions at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre and launched the acclaimed Discoveries series. 

In recent years, the company has been named among the “Best of 2015” by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, has been nominated for a 2016 International Opera Award, and won ArtsATL’s 2019 Luminary Award for Community Engagement in recognition of its successful Veterans Program in partnership with the Home Depot Foundation. In addition, The Atlanta Opera was featured in a 2018 Harvard Business School case study about successful organizational growth, and Zvulun presented a TEDx Talk at Emory University titled “The Ambidextrous Opera Company, or Opera in the Age of iPhones.” 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, The Atlanta Opera was one of the only companies in the world to create a full, alternative season, consisting of no less than 40 live performances in two different outdoor venues, including a revolutionary custom-designed circus tent. The fundraising goal was tripled, and four new productions were created, each of which employed 150 cast, crew and staff. The critically acclaimed productions and concerts were streamed in HD in the newly created streaming platform “Spotlight Media,” allowing The Atlanta Opera to reach a global audience. National media coverage of the “pandemic season” included features in the Wall Street Journal and PBS Newshour. For more information, visit

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