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A musical connection: Atlanta Opera supports community with singing telegrams

Music has a way of bringing a message to the masses, and now the Atlanta Opera is using its talents for a whole new mission

ATLANTA — "In normal times, we believe our mission is Atlanta needs music and art and beautiful connection with the human voice," Artistic Director Tomer Zvulun said. "But in this day and age, Atlanta needs something else. People are isolated right now. They need human connection."

"What opera does, what art does, what music does, it provides a connection with people. It provides a connection to the human voice, to music, to words, to stories," Zvulun said.

So in spite of canceled performances, Zvulun and opera members pivoted to a new mission: singing telegrams. Using iPhones and computers, artists recorded renditions of favorite songs and shared the telegrams to those needing extra support.

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The community project was a mission that singer Elizabeth Sarian was glad to take part in.

"I believe in being creative in how we're bringing music to people who are suffering, who are alone," she told 11Alive.

The program first launched with local senior living facility Lenbrook.

“The telegrams provided these lovely, potent sounds, like hearing a rainbow! Listening to The Atlanta Opera Studio Artists takes your troubles away, even if just for a little while. It fills you with hope and good feelings," Bernie Goldstein, a Lenbrook resident, said.

"There are many people in need right now so the people we are focusing on are people who are alone, that are sick," Zvulun said. "That don't have someone they can lean on right now. But, also people on the front lines, nurses, doctors, and we're trying to uplift their spirits in any way we can right now."

Among those expected to receive the recorded telegrams are doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers at Grady Health System. In a time with many unknowns, the opera company believes in the power of music to transform.

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"The more we offer them, which is music and art and stories, the more we hope we can alleviate that feeling of loneliness that so many are struggling with," Zvulun said.

The singing telegrams project launched as a result of the opera's new community service taskforce. The Atlanta Opera costume shop has also been contributing, working with local hospitals to provide mask covers and hospital gowns.

Learn more here.

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