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At­lanta Opera’s ‘Tu­ran­dot,’ 7 Stages’ ‘Queer En­coun­ters’ on tap

At­lanta Opera closes out its sea­son this week­end with the beloved “Tu­ran­dot.” It was the last opera that Gi­a­como Puc­cini worked on be­fore he passed away in 1924, even­tu­ally fin­ished a few years later by Franco Al­fano.

“Tu­ran­dot” is a large-scale pro­duc­tion, with a cast and crew of more than 200 peo­ple. Set in China, it in­volves Prince Calaf, who falls in love with the icy Princess Tu­ran­dot. In or­der to win her hand in mar­riage, he must solve three rid­dles. If he doesn’t solve them, he will die.

Marcy Stonikas plays the lead char­ac­ter. Al­though she has played the role twice, this is her first time per­form­ing with the At­lanta Opera. Tu­ran­dot be­lieves she is the next per­son that will take the throne in her fam­ily. Her fa­ther is get­ting old and she has suit­ors al­ways knock­ing at the door. But she doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily want to get mar­ried.

“The char­ac­ter can be de­picted as the ice princess, the black widow, but I think it is more than that,” Stonikas said. “She has never had a close re­la­tion­ship with any­one in gen­eral. It’s hard for her to know who to trust. She can be played two-di­men­sion­ally, but she is a real per­son. I think what I have fig­ured out over time is about the nu­ance of play­ing her.”

Gian­luca Ter­ra­nova, who was in­volved with the com­pany’s ver­sion of “La Bo­heme,” stars as Calaf, who he sees as a prince who has lost ev­ery­thing and wants to have his power back. The ac­tor is a huge fan of Tomer Zvulun, the com­pany’s gen­eral and artis­tic di­rec­tor since 2013.

“He sup­ports me a lot,” Ter­ra­nova said. “Work­ing with the com­pany and staff has been a fan­tas­tic ex­pe­ri­ence and op­por­tu­nity. They are very pro­fes­sional and the acous­tics at the venue are won­der­ful.”

He be­lieves that “Tu­ran­dot” holds up be­cause of its uni­ver­sal­ity and “a lot of beau­ti­ful mu­sic in­side.”

Play­ing the role of The Man­darin is Alan Higgs, who moved to At­lanta with his hus­band from Tallahassee three years ago. He is part of The At­lanta Opera’s Stu­dio Artists pro­gram – younger per­form­ers who are still build­ing their skills. In 2010 he was part of the cho­rus in a ver­sion of the show.

“‘Tu­ran­dot’ is very close to my heart and I have al­ways wanted to do it again,” he said.

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