City Cafe

Composing Under Pressure: The 24-Hour Opera Project

Brandon Odom and Arsenia Soto rehearse a scene from “The Puddle of Youth.”
Brandon Odom and Arsenia Soto rehearse a scene from “The Puddle of Youth.”
Credit Jeff Roffman

Beginning November 1st, composers, musicians, writers and singers from all over the state of Georgia and beyond are meeting up in Atlanta to participate in the Atlanta Opera’s 24 Hour Opera ProjectThe participants split into teams to write and perform an opera…in 24 hours. During 2012’s event, two of our producers—Scott Casavant and Myke Johns—spent time with one team of participants to get a closer look at the process of writing and staging an opera in a day.

Just to be clear, 24 hour opera does not mean an opera that lasted 24 hours. In this annual competition, composers and lyricists who had never met are randomly paired together and locked in rehearsal studios to write a seven-to-ten minute opera opera in 12 hours. Teams of singers and directors rehearsed what they’d written and the following night, all five resulting operas were performed in front of an audience and a panel of judges.

We met composer Natalie Williams, who teaches Music Theory and Composition at the University of Georgia. She was paired with Atlanta playwright Vynnie Meli. This was her third time competing in the 24 Hour Opera.

This year’s theme was “Convincing Confessions.” In addition to the theme, each team were given two props which they had to work into the show. Williams and Meli wrote through the night, coming up with a short piece titled “The Puddle of Youth.” 

You can see the final performances of all five operas on the Atlanta Opera’s website here.

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