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Article Published: 02 Jul 2020

Voices from the Field: Tomer Zvulun

Tomer Zvulun
Tomer Zvulun (photo: Jeff Roffman)

General Director, The Atlanta Opera

Zvulun responded to the crisis by setting to work on community-relief efforts, including the manufacture of protective masks for front-line workers, and a Singing Telegrams program, offering solace to lonely and at-risk individuals.

It’s not what happens to you; it’s how you react that matters. There’s so much you can’t control. Then you think, “What can you actually do?” We found ways for our people, rather than sitting at home and focusing on the bad stuff, to channel their energies and help the Atlanta community.

There’s an Israeli defense force saying: “Crisis reveals character.” When the shutdown happened, we had to cancel our final two Porgy and Bess performances. The cast had rehearsed for five weeks; it didn’t feel right to say to them “Go home, force majeure.” The board of directors agreed, and we paid the artists in full. I want them to come back. We either have solid relationships with them or they look at us with disappointment.

I think about a passage in Camus’ The Plague: “There is no sun without a shadow. It is essential to know the night.” We’re in the middle of this night, and we want to make sure that when we emerge, our relationships are intact.

This article was published in the Summer 2020 issue of Opera America Magazine.