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Publishers Feature Weekly: Atlanta Cultural Arts Review

posted Mar 13, 2014, 8:33 AM by Catherine Giel   [ updated Mar 13, 2014, 8:36 AM ]

Sweeney Todd
by RJH
Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd hits the stage in the Conant Theatre at Oglethorpe this weekend only. You kind of know the story line; it’s about that barber who got sent down to Australia by some corrupt judge, and years later shows up in London Town seeking revenge in a somewhat bloody way.
Barber Sweeney Todd (Shane Desmond-Williams) hooks up with Mrs. Lovett, who is a lousy baker trying to eke out a living by making and selling her awful pasties. She was using road kill as a filler, until Sweeney figures out a much heartier source. Mrs. Lovett is sung by Heather Witt, and she and Sweeney make quite a pair. But wait. . . . you’ll also enjoy Kristin Moye as the nut-case beggar woman. She’s a hoot.
The tale involves a young sailor (Ivan Segovia) who falls for Johanna (Sarah Elizabeth Peavy) who turns out to be the daughter of Sweeney, who has been raised in very tight circumstances by the judge who sent Sweeney away. The judge (Wade Thomas) has the hots for his foster daughter and would wed her, would she be willing to do so. Ugh…. And he is supported by a colorful Beadle (Charlie Bradshaw) who is a civil servant guard. The other three principals are Adolfo Pirelli (Joey Yates) and his assistant Tobias Ragg (Jeffrey Akana) who also winds up working for the pie lady. Joey Yates doubles as the loony Jonas Fogg who runs an asylum.
However that is not the entire cast. They are joined by a company of 19 more players who are the street people and help to move the story along. This is an incredible work by this local opera group, for just a 3-night run. The sets alone must have taken some great work to move into the theatre. They are backed up by an off-stage orchestra, and the costuming is great as well.
There are two numbers which will ring a bell, and they are Not While I’m Around (also referred to often as Nothing’s gonna hurt you . . .) sung to Mrs. Lovett by Tobias, andPretty Women sung by Sweeney and the judge. If you expect to see a lot of blood and corpses, please know that is not the case. It is part of the story, but it isn’t thrust at you in a manner to revolt you. What this is, is an excellent and highly professional production of a contemporary classic work directed by Michael Nutter, with the orchestra under the baton of Michael Giel.
If you like musical theatre and/or opera in English; then this is a must see; so go visit their website where you can reserve your seats and enjoy the show. CCityOpera.org

ArtsATL: Capitol City Opera gives fresh talent a voice with Puccini's classic "La Boheme"

posted Nov 26, 2013, 12:38 PM by Catherine Giel   [ updated Nov 27, 2013, 8:07 AM ]

September 9, 2013

The life of an aspiring opera singer is a precarious one. After completing conservatory training, the singer ideally sets out to audition for roles with the intention of setting the world ablaze with his or her artistry. But oftentimes a 22-year-old is too green to land a job with an opera company that spends perhaps $1 million per production and can’t afford to take a chance on untested talent. For that reason, most conservatory graduates initially seek out training programs for emerging professionals, such as Atlanta’s Capitol City Opera Company.

The company was founded 30 years ago and hires Atlanta-based singers for both its main stage and outreach endeavors to schools and elsewhere. It offers lighter repertoire and opera cabaret throughout the season, as well as its signature event, “Dinner and a Diva” at Petite Auberge in Toco Hills. It operates on a shoestring budget in order to fulfill its mission: to nurture young singers and honor them with a paycheck for their work.

Last weekend the Capitol City Opera staged Giacomo Puccini’s “La Bohème” at Oglethorpe University’s Conant Performing Arts Center. With “Bohème,” his fourth opera, first performed in 1896, Puccini mastered something that had eluded him 10 years earlier with his “Le Villi.” He depicted a troupe of young, struggling artists in Paris who exhibited a sentimentality with which the audience could identify. He dispensed with supernatural subject matter and overblown displays of emotion.

Accordingly, Capitol City Artistic Director Michael Nutter double-cast the show and matched Puccini’s economy with simplicity of stage direction, scenery and instrumentation. The well-rounded cast of singers was accompanied by string quartet and piano, conducted by Michael Giel. Rather than sounding sparse, the small ensemble was aesthetically satisfying and well suited to the young singers.

Amanda Smolek was smartly cast; she conveyed a sympathetic Mimí and displayed both the stamina and vocal warmth to pull off such a challenging lyric role. Her Rodolfo, Brendan Callahan-Fitzgerald, possesses a tenor voice with metallic overtones, but the duo sang pleasantly together throughout. Elisabeth Slaten, a recent graduate of the Peabody Conservatory, is a fine singing actress and performed Musetta with aplomb. Special mention must be made of Jinho Park, who expertly sang the role of the painter Marcello. Park is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music and makes his living as a choral conductor here in Atlanta; he was clearly the most seasoned artist in the cast.

The ensemble hit its stride in the final act, when the contrast between comedy and tragedy is most starkly juxtaposed. Colline (the melodramatic Iván Segovia) and Schaunard (baritone Jonathan L.B. Spuhler) jousted with mops and brooms while Rodolfo snatched away from Marcello his prized keepsake, a red lace scarf previously worn by his former lover, Musetta. The choreography couldn’t have been more precisely executed, leaving the audience in stitches, and wholly unprepared for Mimí’s final entrance and subsequent quiet death.

Source: ArtsATL

Atlanta Cultural Arts Reviews: The Secret Agent Opera

posted Nov 26, 2013, 12:00 PM by Catherine Giel   [ updated Nov 27, 2013, 8:06 AM ]

March 16, 2013

It's hard to imagine how much work has to go into creating a new opera. A story, a score, a
libretto, sets, costumes, and so much more. And to stage it for three days only, just boggles the mind. But, that's exactly what is being offered to us in Atlanta by Capitol City Opera Company.

The story is that of The Secret Agent, published in 1907, and set in London in 1886 where an anarchist, almost a Trotskyite coeroes an underling to create havoc by setting off a bomb adjacent to the Greenwich Observatory. 

Atlanta composer Curtis Bryant created the score, and a 17 member orchestra is playing live; although they are backstage since there is not pit at the Conant Center. Interesting that the librettist, Allen Reichman, is a retired forensic psychiatrist. No wonder he was so attracted to Joseph Conrad's story line.

The story is one with evil intent, screw-ups, death, grieving, and resolution. Sort of typical opera. One aspect that is quite different is that this one is sung in English, albeit there are a couple of large screen TVs where the words being sung are displayed. That's nice, although you pretty much are going to be able to hear and understand the words coming from the performers. But, these screens also are used to advise the audience of the scene changes, so you know where the action is taking place.

Probably the most unusual voice is that of countertenor Chase Davidson, who is Stevie, the
developmentally delayed young man. That high range is quite rare. Most of the action is carried by Wade Thomas who sings as Adolf Verloc who was coerced by a foreign embassy official, Mr.
Vladimir (Keith Lee) to do the dirty deeds. Stevie's sister, Winnie, is sung by Elisabeth Claxton and in Act II, we meet up with Chief Inspector Heat (Tony Yezzi), whose specialty is investigating anarchists.

Is this one going to be another La Boheme or Traviata? I wouldn't think so. It doesn't have the oldtime charisma, nor memorable melodic passages. But, it is a really wonderful accomplishment for this company which specializes in advancing the careers of local performers and opera specialists. This may be some of the folks you have seen singing at La Petite Auberge in Toco Hills; but we have to stand and salute them for bringing a full-scale production to a stage as they have done. To Artistic Director Michael Nutter, Music Director Catherine Giel, Conductor Michael Giel and each and every member of the cast and crew we say Molto Bravo!

The Backstage Beat: Capitol City Opera presents The Secret Agent

posted Nov 26, 2013, 11:56 AM by Catherine Giel   [ updated Nov 27, 2013, 8:04 AM ]

March 16,2013

When you hear the word "secret agent" you think of the cold war era of 007, where spies, anarchist, and evil doers are ready to take over the world. You don' really think an unassuming opera. This weekend the Capitol City Opera is producing a world premiere of The Secret Agent

I got to see the dress rehearsal, which was the first for me with the Capitol City Opera who always does an exquisite job. I usually see their productions In final form and have always been impressed. I love opera and they fill a much needed niche in the opera community.

However the dress rehearsal can be a bit bumpy with lots of starts and stops and
distractions abound. I did get the gist of the story of how you are taken to the underground
world of the 1930s London, before the start of World War II. The use of shadows and shifting sets makes for a believable transformation with a live in house orchestra that is set behind the stage. The performers really filled the halls of the Oglethorpe University Theatre.

The story Is about Adolf Verloc (Wade Thomas) who seems to be a mild manner proprietor of a
pornography shop In London bulls really a foreign agent. His mission Is anarchism and he wants
to contribute more to the cause. His larger task assigned Is to plant and set off a bomb, not to kill but to showcase the Incompetency of the government. This sets for an adventure Into Intrigue, suspense and how even a simple plan can have unexpected consequence. The Secret Agent includes passion, forbidden love affair, and a roller coaster of unexpected twists and turns.

Since 1983, the Capitol City Opera is the only company in the Southeast primarily to help local
singers and artist with their careers. You can truly say I saw them when, before they hit the big stages around the world. This company has something for everybody, performing locally with Dinner and a Diva and reaching out to school.

This world premiere of The Secret Agent is sung in English and based on the novel by Joseph
Conrad with the music by Curtis Byrant and Libretto by Allen Reichman. A bravo of a performance, check out The Secret Agent which runs through March 17, 2013

Terrific Tartuffe

posted Sep 14, 2010, 12:10 PM by tpatterson@ccityopera.org   [ updated Mar 6, 2017, 1:20 PM by Catherine Giel ]

No doubt about it, Tartuffe was a huge hit! We had a terrific opening night with our partner Legally Pink, a fantastic Saturday sponsor party, and the composer himself attended our Sunday matinee! We want to thank everyone who worked so hard, and especially want to thank our patrons who came out to support us! It was wonderful to sing to such receptive and appreciative audiences. Three standing ovations and wonderful reviews. Read all about our season closer -- and stay tuned for exciting news about our upcoming season.
Arts Critic Atlanta review by Pierre Ruhle:
    The cast with composer Kirke Mechem
A patrons review posted at Theaterreview.com:
Mark Diamond as Damis
  John LaForge as Orgon
Heather Witt with some    Kat Uhle as Marianne                 Kirke and John
young fans!                   Nathan Munson as Valere                         
 Pam Cole shows some of her
     design sketches at the
          sponsors party

Summer Lightside a huge success!

posted Jul 28, 2010, 1:56 PM by tpatterson@ccityopera.org   [ updated Jul 28, 2010, 2:18 PM by Catherine Giel ]

This year's "On the Lightside" at Callenwolde featured the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein, sung by some of our most popular singers. Patrons brought their own picnic suppers -- and what suppers they brought! From roast salmon to roast beef, from cakes to coleslaw, it was a feast at every table!
Flowers and decorative tableware added to the festivites and the roomed looked as good as it smelled.
And of course we had our yearly silent auction. All of our auction items found a buyer, and one lucky winner is now planning for a weeks vacation at a villa in Italy (where even the BAD food is GOOD!)
The cast included Lawson Anderson, Amber Brooke, Valerie Beck, Victoria Hawkins, Courtney Loner, Heather Witt, Gerald Yarbray, and Gus Godbee (who's rousing version of "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning" had the whole audience singing along!) Michael Fauss provided musical direction and accompanied the evening, which was directed by Michael Nutter.
We want to thank all of our sponsors, patrons and contributors for their support of Capitol City Opera Company. With your help we are truly fulfilling our mission of bringing Opera to Everyone!

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