Home audiences around the world will have the chance to see two major new productions from The Atlanta Opera next month, with Spotlight Media’s release of The Threepenny Carmen, starring Megan Marino, Richard Trey Smagur and Michael Mayes (Aug 12), and The Threepenny Opera, featuring Jay Hunter Morris, Ronnita Miller and Gina Perregrino (Aug 19). Adapted and directed by Tomer Zvulun – Atlanta’s Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. General & Artistic Director – both productions premiered this past spring for live, in-person audiences, more than half of whose members were new to The Atlanta Opera, in the company’s innovative “Big Tent” series. “The Atlanta Opera delivers with its ‘Threepenny’ series in the Big Tent,” marveled ArtsATL. “The Threepenny Carmen and The Threepenny Opera are perfect reminders that Zvulun has never met a project that he wants to half-ass.” Click here to see the cinematic trailers for The Threepenny Carmen and The Threepenny Opera.
Launched last winter, The Atlanta Opera’s Spotlight Media digital platform presents highly produced filmed versions of the company’s 2020-21 Big Tent offerings, reaching new audiences in Germany, Italy, Israel and beyond. Deconstructed to accommodate the particular needs and nature of the current season, both spring productions were rapturously received in live performance and are eagerly anticipated by home viewers, many of whom have already placed pre-orders for the films. “Atlanta Opera clearly demonstrated how to transform challenges into opportunities,” stated Parterre. “The costumes – designed by Joanna Schmink for [The Threepenny] Carmen and Erik Teague for [The Threepenny] Opera – are exemplary,” declared Arts ATL. In short, both The Threepenny Carmen and The Threepenny Opera proved “extremely successful by embracing pandemic constraints to create new theater” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution).
Due for release on August 12, The Threepenny Carmen offers “an energized new take on Bizet’s 1875 masterwork” (ArtsATL). Capturing the opera’s essence as an exploration of sexual freedom and social hierarchies, Zvulun’s 90-minute production starred Megan Marino, who “was perfect for her role as Carmen” (Bachtrack), with Richard Trey Smagur as Don José, Michael Mayes as Escamillo and Jasmine Habersham as Micaëla. In the newly created role of bar owner Lilas Pastia, actor Tom Key helped drive the narrative, while Flamenco dancer and choreographer Sonia Olla “infused Pastia’s bar with piquant dance” (Opera News). As Bachtrack concluded:
“The staging was a visual feast. … This was an amazing performance, in tough pandemic circumstances. Maestro Jorge Parodi did a masterful job of conducting the off-stage orchestra and the amplified sound was uniformly good. The dancers were outstanding. … Five stars.”
Scheduled for release two weeks later on August 19, Atlanta’s treatment of The Threepenny Opera offers a streamlined adaptation of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht’s Weimar-era masterpiece while retaining its original score. Created by Zvulun in partnership with the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, the production was hailed as “innovative theater” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution), and the decision to use a chorus of puppets, custom-made by Atlanta’s Center for Puppetry Arts, as nothing less than “a stroke of genius” (Parterre). Jay Hunter Morris and Ronnita Miller sang the roles of Macheath and Mrs. Peachum, with Gina Perregrino as Jenny. As Parterre put it, “Atlanta Opera assembled quite a first-rate cast for this presentation, and boy, did they deliver!”
July releases from Spotlight Media: two new Love Letters to Atlanta
Meanwhile, July has brought two new Love Letters to Atlanta from Spotlight Media. Hailed as “a series of affecting short films” (Wall Street Journal), this new video series gives individual members of the Atlanta Opera Company Players – the twelve world-class singers hired for the duration of the present season, all of whom are resident in Atlanta and the southeast – the chance to celebrate the Georgia capital and its inhabitants by singing a song of personal significance at an iconic Atlanta venue. In Love Letters to Atlanta, Megan Marino Part 2 (released on July 6), The Threepenny Carmen’s Megan Marino sings Cole Porter’s “So In Love” at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center, and talks to Tomer Zvulun about what the song means to her. Next came Love Letters to Atlanta, Richard Trey Smagur (released on July 20), in which Marino’s co-star sings “Mr. Cellophane” from Kander & Ebb’s Chicago at the Atlanta Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse, where he also joins Zvulun in conversation. Additional Love Letters from Ryan McKinny and Jasmine Habersham are both due for release this fall.