The Atlanta Opera Announces 2024 96-Hour Opera Festival

By David Salazar

The Atlanta Opera has announced its 2024 96-Hour Opera Festival.

The event will feature the world premiere of “Forsyth County is Flooding (with the Joy of Lake Lanier),” which won the 2022 competition. The opera will be staged by Tinashe Kajese-Bolden and conducted by Chaowen Ting. It stars Kevin Thompson (Church Jenkins), Minka Wiltz (Odella), Andrew Gilstrap (Mayor John Johns), Tiffany Uzoije (Butter), and Marnie Breckenridge.

The opera’s synopsis relates the story of a town that was once the home of a thriving Black community until it is attacked and its residents driven out by aggression from local whites. It is then flooded and turned into a reservoir and recreation lake where decades later drownings and other events start to take place. The opera features music by Dr. Marcus Norris and the story and book by Adamma Ebo.

The 96-Hour Opera competition has blossomed into a full-blown festival this season,” said Carl W. Knobloch, Jr,  General & Artistic Director Tomer Zvulun in an official press statement. “In addition to hosting the prestigious competition to identify a winning talented team that will be commissioned for a brand-new opera, we are presenting the world premiere of Forsyth County is Flooding” (winner of the 2022 competition) and the workshop of Steele Roots” (winner of last year’s competition). This vital program is one of the highlights of our season and we are excited that it has grown into a festival in such a short time.”

Other contestants for this year’s competition include Timothy Amukele and Jarrod Lee; George Tsz-Kwan Lam and David Davila; Evan Williams and Ashlee Haze; Kitty Brazelton and Vaibu Mohan; and Lauren McCall and Mo Holmes.

The schedule is as follows for the week. On June 13, the contestants arrive with their operas and begin rehearsals and coaching. The next day is the world premiere of “Forsyth County” followed by a workshop on June 16 for the 2023 winner opera-in-progress. The final showcase is set for June 17.