He’s performed across the country, but Atlanta has always been a significant city for him. Alan Higgs returns to Atlanta Opera this week as the company closes its 2018-2019 season with the universally adored “La Traviata.”

Higgs, who’s gay, is singing the bass role of Dr. Grenvil in the show, which charts the ill-fated relationship between Violetta, a young courtesan, and Alfredo, with whom she falls in love. The performer describes his character as sympathetic and concerned. “I think Dr. Grenvil is one of the only friends Violetta has left,” Higgs says. “The role is important in showing she has these people who care about her (as her tuberculosis gets worse.) You see the concern I show and the care I take of her.”

Higgs has long been a fan of the show and actually understudied for the same role at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. “Verdi’s music here is some of his best,” he says. “His writing here is fantastic, the music is dramatic and beautiful and the story is timeless about giving up everything for love and the battle between having riches or having love. Everyone struggles in life with money. Money seems to be the root of evil in the world.”

Tomer Zvulun, the artistic director of Atlanta Opera since 2013, is widely credited for bringing a new vitality to the company. The two have worked together often. “Tomer is fantastic and has a wonderful vision of where opera is going and how to cater it to today’s audience,” he says. “He knows what to do to keep opera relevant in this day. He is doing four mainstage productions, including a musical. His Discovery series, for smaller or newer works, brings in a different audience and give then something new to see. Plus, Tomer has worked at many opera companies and sees how they are working and brings that to Atlanta.”

Raised in Florida, Higgs went to school at both the University of Florida and Florida State University. After graduation, he moved to Atlanta in 2014 for his husband’s job. He was working at a dentist’s office and taking a break when he auditioned for the Atlanta Opera chorus. He didn’t get in the chorus but found out two weeks later he got a role. Higgs’ professional debut was at the Atlanta Opera as the Imperial Commissioner in “Madama Butterfly.” He’s since been seen locally in “Le nozze di Figaro,” “La boheme,” “Silent Night” and “Turandot,” among others, and has branched out to other companies.

After a residency at the Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago, he will start his freelance life. “It’s a career where it’s not a nine to five or one with a guaranteed salary. You go out and audition and see what your manager can line up. You can have a gig and then time off. That’s the life of opera,” he said. “It’s nerve racking and exciting, but I do get to travel the world doing what I love doing.”

Being out in the industry has never been an issue for Higgs. “For me I’ve had a good experience,” he admits. “It’s a very gay friendly art form. My experience has been one of acceptance with a loving community who supports me as an artist and a gay man.”

 

Showing Times

“La Traviata”

Atlanta Opera at Cobb Energy

Performing Arts Centre

April 27, April 30, May 3, May 5

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