TEAMS ANNOUNCED FOR THE ATLANTA OPERA’S 96-HOUR OPERA PROJECT

Speakeysie News Desk

(From top left, clockwise: Carlos Castro, Isabella Dawis, Adamma Ebo, Alejandra Villarreal Martinez, Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton, Johanny Navarro, Marcus Norris, Saman Shahi, Diana Solomon-Glover, Jorge Sosa, Roydon Tse, Marcus Yi)

ATLANTA – April 14, 2022 – The Atlanta Opera announced that teams have been selected for the 96-Hour Opera Project, a composition showcase and competition in which teams of composers and librettists will create completely new and compelling 10-minute operas. Morehouse College will host the finals in partnership with the Opera.

Advisor to the project, Morris Robinson, says of the finalists, “The level of talent here is stunning. I cannot wait to hear and see what they prepare over the coming months.”

“Projects like these are necessary to balance the playing field, while simultaneously shining a light on new talent and new literature for opera,” he added.

“We look forward to launching this vital program, which will allow us to identify, nurture and amplify the future voices of opera,” said General & Artistic Director, Tomer Zvulun. “The creative talent that we have already seen is impressive. It will be a privilege to see these artists harness their creative forces to create original short works during their residence in Atlanta.” 

Tickets to see the six teams in the showcase are now available to the general public. The event on June 20th is free and will be held at the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center at Morehouse College, School of Music. The 96-Hour Opera Project is sponsored by UPS.

All participating teams will travel to Atlanta after preparing their work in advance of the program. Travel, housing, singers, pianists, and space will be provided to each composer/librettist team in order to showcase their new mini operas, based on the stories of Atlanta and greater Georgia. The winning team will split a $10,000 prize and be commissioned to write a chamber opera for a future season at the Atlanta Opera. All other participating artists are guaranteed a $1,000 honorarium.

More information is available at atlantaopera.org/competition. 

Judges for the competition are Priti Gandhi, Artistic Director of Portland Opera; librettist and writer Andrea Davis Pinkney; and recently appointed General Director of the Houston Grand Opera, Khori Dastoor, Bass Morris Robinson, composer Kevin Puts and Donald Byrd, choreographer.

The National Center for Civil and Human Rights, We Love Buford Highway, the Fulton County Library System, the Japan American Society of Georgia and The Atlanta History Center will assist the opera in providing compelling local story prompts and creative briefs for the participating librettists and composers. The stories will fall into broad categories, paired with applicants based on interests identified in the application. 

The Teams

Johanny Navarro, composer & Deborah Mouton, librettist

Marcus Norris, composer & Adamma Ebo, librettist

Jorge Sosa, composer & Alejandra Martinez, librettist

Carlos Castro, composer & Diana Solomon-Glover, librettist

Roydon Tse, composer & Marcus Yi, librettist

Saman Shahi, composer & Isabella Dawis, librettist

Biographies are provided as an addendum below. 

The 96-Hour Project – Sponsored by UPS

Designed specifically for composers and librettists from historically underrepresented communities, the 96-Hour Project is only open to those who self-identify as Black, Indigenous, Asian-American, Pacific Islander, Arab-American, Latin-American or other communities of color, including those artists from outside the US. 

The showcase will be hosted in partnership with Morehouse College, School of Music. The finals will be open to the public and will be held at the Ray Charles Center for the Performing Arts on Monday, June 20, 2022. The finals will include a special commemorative performance honoring the Juneteenth holiday.

Internationally renowned bass and Atlanta native Morris Robinson will serve as the artistic advisor for this year’s competition, working with creative teams throughout the competition as well as serving as one of the judges. 

“Projects like this one are necessary in order to move the needle for composers and librettists of color,” said Robinson. “I’m proud to be part of a company that is doing this work.”

“The diversity of Atlanta—racial, ethnic, cultural—is the reason for the vibrancy and richness of this city. We want diversity to be a vital part of every aspect of our company and reflect the city we call home,” said Tomer Zvulun, the company’s Carl W. Knobloch Jr. General and Artistic Director. “This new initiative will achieve two major goals: sharing inspirational stories that reflect the multicultural history of Atlanta and amplifying the voices of diverse artists.” 

Each creative team will be paired with a story drawn from Georgia’s past and present based on materials provided by this year’s “Stories that Resonate” partners, representative nonprofit organizations with storytelling at their core. Stories will be provided in advance of the showcase, so that teams can spend time on both research and creation.

The Atlanta Opera provides singing talent, a pianist and a director to assist with staging, plus, a treasure trove of background information from the Stories that Resonate partner organizations to spark imagination.

In partnership with Georgia Public Broadcasting, The Atlanta Opera Film Studio will produce a mini-series using filmed portions of the competition and supplemental interviews that will be shown on GPB stations across the state and online.


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 atlantaopera.org.

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