Speakeysie News Desk – March 23, 2023
(January 2023)—The Atlanta Opera – “one of the most exciting opera companies in America” (Opera Wire) – closes its mainstage 2022-23 season with a milestone event: General and Artistic Director Tomer Zvulun’s new production of Das Rheingold, the company’s first production of any opera from Wagner’s monumental Ring Cycle (April 29–May 7). This major new production sees Zvulun reunite with scenic and projections designer Erhard Rom and lighting designer Robert Wierzel, and the same production under Zvulun’s direction will premiere at Dallas Opera in February. As with all mainstage presentations this season, the production will also be filmed by The Atlanta Opera’s Film Studio, led by Felipe Barral, and available to livestream on Friday, January 27 at atlantaopera.org.
Carl W. Knobloch Jr. General and Artistic Director Tomer Zvuluncelebrates his tenth anniversary with The Atlanta Opera this season, and Das Rheingold will mark his 50th production with the company, debuting exactly 10 years after his arrival. He was recently named among the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s “Everyday Heroes” for his innovative work building The Atlanta Opera, with special mention of its award-winning Veterans Program, the Discoveries Series, and the nationally profiled success of its Big Tent series that facilitated socially distant productions during the pandemic. As the Wall Street Journal reported, The Atlanta Opera’s productions “demonstrate[d] how imaginative direction can harness COVID restrictions for artistic effect.” Paying tribute to the company’s spirit of innovation and perseverance, PBS Newshourhighlighted The Atlanta Opera in a TV broadcast feature story entitled, “The show will go on! Performing arts pivot during pandemic.”
Rheingold – the first of the four music dramas that make up Wagner’s monumental Ring cycle – is slated to be followed by the second, Die Walküre, at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre next season, with details to be announced soon. As in their celebrated collaborations on La bohème, Semele, Eugene Onegin, Madama Butterfly, Rigoletto, Salome and Silent Night, the team members’ vision – now complemented by the costumes of European Opera Prize-winner Mattie Ullrich – will capture the opera’s timeless mythology. Zvulun explains:
“Tackling any part of Wagner’s Ring cycle for the first time is awatershed moment for any opera company. It is often compared to climbing Mount Everest. Arguably, it is the most complex epic masterpiece in all of opera and it challenges and stretches the whole organization. This production of Das Rheingold has been in the works since my very first day at The Atlanta Opera ten years ago. It takes years to build the competencies, and, more importantly, to find the right team, that will allow us to climb this mountain. I believe that the time to launch this journey has arrivedand we are going to bring something truly special to Atlanta and the world.”
Das Rheingold’s outstanding cast of American voices will be led by bass-baritone Greer Grimsley, making his company debut, as Wotan. Since first singing the role in Seattle in 2005, he has performed it to acclaim around the world, including in three complete Ring cycles in Seattle, at his Bayreuth debut in 2018 and in the reprise of Robert LePage’s landmark production at the Metropolitan Opera the following year. The Huffington Post, after raving about his “wide-ranging and handsome voice,” declared that “he sings … like a god.” Grimsley will be joined by mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong in her role debut as Fricka, veteran Icelandic bass Kristinn Sigmundsson as Fasolt; and Zachary Nelson in his role debut as Alberich. Arthur Fagen, longtime music director of The Atlanta Opera will conduct (April 29–May 7).