“Let’s face it—opera is simply “Desperate Housewives” or “Dynasty” set to music,” says Kevin Robison, Artistic Director of the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus. “It’s high drama, low comedy, and great music.”
The witty Mr. Robison backed up his assertion by directing the sparkling “Divas 2: Opera Revisited” this past weekend at the Conant Performing Arts Center at Oglethorpe University. AGMC is currently celebrating their 30th year as one of Atlanta’s—and the nation’s—preeminent musical performance groups.
But make no mistake: The Chorus—100 plus singers—perform with subtlety, power, panache, and musicianship. From the opening “Sailor’s Chorus” from Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman,” where at first the chorus was hidden upstage under sea waves (a delightfully theatrical touch), the audience was treated to a lush, gorgeous sound and consistently witty, inventive montages and skits.
Of course there were serious selections as well. My personal favorite was from Bizet’s “The Pearl Fishers” for its gorgeous waves of sound. I also loved Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz Scene” from “Eugene Onegin”; again, lush sound, haunting melody.
That’s the thing about AGMC: They don’t do bad numbers. They consistently surprise and delight. There were selections from Bizet’s “Carmen,” Verdi’s “The Troubador,” Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” Rossini’s “Barber of Seville,” and Gounod’s “Faust.”
Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Three Little Maids” from “The Mikado” (and such little maids: you should have seen) and “The Pirates of Penzance,” with Greg Wiggins singing the “Modern Major General” with astounding vocal dexterity and rapidity—these helped close the program.
All the selections, except three, were sung in English. So the entire evening was quite accessible and understandable to all. But more than that—it was moving and funny. Do you have any idea what 100 voices sound like? If not, you are missing out on one of Atlanta’s treasures.
The encore was “Nessun dorma” from Puccini’s “Turandot,” which became a signature piece for Luciano Pavarotti; it was sung sublimely by the entire chorus. The Principal Pianist for the evening was the outstanding Peyson L. Moss.
The next performance for the group is “30 Years of Broadway” with Tony-winning actress Joanna Gleason as guest artist; this will be at the Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State University, July 8-9. If you’d like to know more about AGMC (or even make a contribution—these are financially tough times for the arts, as I’m sure you’ve heard) check their website at www.agmchorus.org.