Opera - 24-Hour Opera gets fierce and funny

Live production caters to opera lovers and newcomers alike

Opera has always had a flair for the dramatic. The Atlanta Opera's fifth annual 24-Hour Opera Project, will be no exception. In pushing four teams of composers, librettists, directors, and performers to compose and produce a seven- to 10-minute opera in 24 hours, the event attempts to emphasize a different side of the art for a less traditional audience — and to just have a good time.

"Opera is for everyone, and it isn't what you think," says Cory Lippiello, director of artistic planning and community engagement for the Atlanta Opera.

"Anything can be operatic. Music just helps tell stories in a way that isn't effective otherwise."

This year's production will provide a few new elements for participants and audience members, the biggest of which being a change of venue. Previously held at Midtown's 14th Street Playhouse, this year the project will take place at Theatrical Outfit. With a seating capacity of about 200 the venue offers an intimacy that may have been lacking in the past.

"We are so excited," Lippiello says. "Theatrical Outfit is the perfect space for the event. The stadium style with the performers on the floor makes the audience feel connected, like a participant yourself. It changes the feeling of the event."

The participation of Dad's Garage, who will be performing an improv game during the judges' deliberation, echoes the event's change in tone. Again, no change was made without intent here — the tenor of improvisation rings true to the core of the 24-Hour Opera. The unpredictability, the time constraints, and the excitement of live performance are all there. "24-Hour Opera shows one of the sides of opera, which is fun and funny. It's a great way for the audience to test the waters," Lippiello says.

Just because the sentiment of the competition is light-hearted should not take away from the fact that the participants, who are selected from a pool of applicants, are dead serious about their craft. Though the decisions are ultimately made based on things like openness, willingness, and creative experimentation, the actual project is incredibly challenging on a technical level as well. Just because people want to participate doesn't mean that they can keep up. Luckily for the audience, Lippiello has the advantage of being on the artistic side of the operation as well as community engagement. In other words, her dichotomy of interests satisfies both die-hard opera enthusiasts and newcomers alike.

"If you're open-minded, you can find yourself in opera." Lippiello says. "Ultimately, it's all rooted in emotional and human experience."

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