Savannah VOICE Festival Announces 2017 Lineup

Staff Report From Savannah CEO

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

The Savannah VOICE Festival unveiled the lineup for its 2017 season, keeping the occasion lighthearted at the perfect event to drum up excitement for the SVF’s fifth season, aptly themed “Funny at 5.” During “Spring Soiree: A Waterside Supper Concert” at The Landings on Skidaway Island, guests were treated to dinner, drinks, entertainment and an official unveiling of the festival’s schedule, which boasts an impressive array of over 25 concerts, classes, operas. outreaches and other events slated to unfold this August – the fifth anniversary of the Savannah VOICE Festival.

The fifth annual festival, which will be staged Aug. 5-27 in and around Savannah, offers music from opera, musical theatre and popular song. To mark a half-decade of vocal excellence and success in the Hostess City, the previously two-week festival is expanding to a third week this year, treating attendees to several extra days of delightful musical offerings, laughter and excitement.

Once again, the Savannah VOICE Festival is partnering with the Westin Savannah Harbor for the fifth year. The four-star resort and spa, conveniently situated atop Hutchinson Island on Savannah’s historic riverfront, plans to transform an area of the hotel into a vocal conservatory for the duration of the festival and will host events, including the return of “Death, by Aria I and II.”

Through his VOICE Programs, legendary baritone Sherrill Milnes will take attendees on a lighthearted journey through memorable concerts featuring hundreds of artists, operatic stories from the past, and modern songs, sure to elicit a giggle or two. The Savannah VOICE Festival joins with its program partner, VOICExperience, to provide a sneak peek pre-launch on Friday, Aug. 4 with an exclusive preview of “Anna Hunter,” the Ghost who Saved Savannah, composed by Michael Ching. The show starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Davenport House Museum and will be followed by a champagne reception and artists meet-and-greet at 7:30 p.m.

Before the opera’s world premiere in November and before the festival launches, attendees can travel through time and get the early “scoop” on the women who changed Savannah’s future by preserving its past. Saving the historic Davenport House, at 324 E. State St., was one of Anna’s first triumphs — and VOICE Society members may sign up to see a workshop run of this comedic work in the very house she saved. This is a VOICE Society members only event.

To officially launch the 2017 “Funny at Five” themed festival, SVF Co-founder and Director Maria Zouves has built a show to introduce this season’s gems, “The Barber of Seville” and “The Marriage of Figaro,” two classical comedies based on the Beaumarchais plays. “Shave and a Haircut,” a Prelude to the Barber, runs from 5-6:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5 at Asbury Memorial Theatre Company, 1008 Henry St. in downtown Savannah.

During the 90-minute program, sponsored by Mrs. Toby Hollenberg, guests can meet the 2017 festival artists and watch as a story about romantic conquests and battles unfold between the classes. Told through music from Rossini and Mozart as well as modern musical theatre and song (mixed in with a bit of Bugs Bunny), Rossini himself falls asleep in the Barber’s chair only to be transported into the world of the clever Figaro. The show offers a delightful way to learn more about opera and fun for all ages at Savannah’s newest performance venue.

From 1-3 p.m. Monday, Aug. 7, legendary baritone and artistic leader of the VOICE Programs Milnes shares his wisdom and experiences with audiences while working with the 2017 studio artists at the Westin Savannah Harbor Ballroom. This free master class and other educational and outreach events are sponsored in part by The Savannah Friends of Music, The Savannah Harbor Foundation, The Kole Family Foundation and VOICE Society Membership.

On Aug. 7, “Death, by Aria, Parts I and II” will provide an up-close and personal introduction to festival artists. Part I, from 5:30-7 p.m. in the Westin’s ballroom. New to the Festival, there will be a break in the action from 7-8 p.m. when patrons are offered a delicious buffet dinner in the Westin’s foyer. The meal costs $50 per person and includes soft drinks, coffee and tea, with a cash bar for cocktails.

This night of arias and songs continues with Death by Aria, Part II from 8-9:30 p.m. The segments, sponsored by Jan and Sam Durham, cost $35 each. However, patrons may take advantage of a special “Death by Aria” dinner package, which costs $100 and includes both concerts and the buffet dinner.

The Salon Series begins with “Saints & Sinners” - The Opera Roles of Denyce Graves from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 8 at the Green Meldrim House, 1 Macon St. One of the world’s most famous mezzo-sopranos will share her experiences and give insights into her famous characters as Festival Artists perform some of Graves’ most memorable music. This event, which will also feature a champagne reception during which guests can meet the artists, is hosted and sponsored by St. John’s Episcopal Church. It is a VOICE Society Members only affair.

Graves, a member of the 2017 guest artist faculty, will then teach a master class at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 9 at Christ Church, 28 Bull St. Singers from the Milnes VOICE Programs will benefit from Graves’ guidance in this public class, sponsored by Middy Larson.

Milnes will teach a second free master class at The Westin from 1-3 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 10.

The Camp VOICE Showcase: “Opera Lite” opens at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 11, focusing on the lighter side of opera and sprinkling it with a bit of musical theatre and song. This concert, presented by the pre-college Camp VOICE Program, will highlight the weeklong intensive’s work. The performance, which is at The Westin Savannah Harbor, is sponsored by Marianne and T. Mills Fleming.

Soprano Meechot Marrero will perform a recital Saturday, Aug. 12, offering a night of sumptuous singing and dramatic interpretation at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 1 Macon St. Before she takes the stage later in the festival as Rosina in “The Barber of Seville,” fans can enjoy this VOICExperience alumna’s talents in a special concert, sponsored by Dr. and Mrs. Wesley Krulic, from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

A favorite of the Festival, Broadway VOICES: “Make ‘em Laugh” is slated for 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 13 and will include “Singin’ in the Rain” and other fun favorites. The Savannah VOICE Festival will celebrate New York’s Great White Way with festival artists and pianist Dan Gettinger at the helm. The event is sponsored by The Salt Table and will be held at Asbury Memorial Theatre, 1008 Henry St.

Milnes will teach a third free master class at The Westin from 1-3 p.m. Monday, Aug. 14.

Later that day, Savannah’s “foodie” traditions will take center stage during Cafe VOICE: “Cha Bella Voce.” The Italian food, wine and song experience starts at 6:30 p.m. at Cha Bella, 102 E. Broad St. This signature dinner event will marry music, food and wine with Italian flair, thanks in great part to SVF’s own rising star, Santiago Ballerini. The renowned tenor will perform with his colleagues as diners enjoy the cuisine at one of the Hostess City’s most treasured farm to table restaurants.

On Tuesday, Aug. 15, SVF’s most beloved mezzo-soprano, Jessica Ann Best, will celebrate her 10th anniversary with the VOICE Programs. Best and Velvet Caravan present “Funny Girl with a Gyspy Swing” from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Jewish Educational Alliance, 5111 Abercorn St. Combining a sublime singer who handles all genres beautifully with an equally versatile band of eclectic musicians and instruments will surely result in a night of laughter, merriment and dancing! This lively concert, sponsored by Lynne and Charles Davis, is suited for all ages.

Milnes will teach a fourth free master class at The Westin from 1-3 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 17.

Giving back to the Savannah community is a mission for the Festival as it welcomes back for a fifth season, Savannah’s own Timothy Hall and this season’s artists present VOICES in Sacred Song at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 17 at Savannah’s First Presbyterian Church, 520 Washington St. The collaboration, sponsored by Katie and Les Anderson, will feature music from oratorio, liturgical music and inspirational song. As the festival’s community goodwill concert, this event is free.

The VOICE Studio artists will appear Friday, Aug. 18 in the second annual studio production – Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro” (The Marriage of Figaro). This masterpiece about a day in the life of the famous “factotum” starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Charles H. Morris Center, 10 E. Broad St. Before patrons see “The Barber of Seville,” SVF will skip to the second part of the story as Count Almaviva, Rosina and the Barber fast-forward to Figaro and Susanna’s wedding. The opera runs for two hours and fifteen minutes, and will be sung in Italian with English translations above the stage. It is sponsored by Arlene and Allan Ratner.

The festival opera, Rossini’s “il Barbiere di Siviglia” (The Barber of Seville) will be staged at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19, also at the Morris Center. SVF reunites some of its favorite cast members of past productions for a delightful journey into playwright Pierre Beaumarchais’ first comedic installation of the Barber Trilogy, sprinkled with a bit of romance. Written 74 years after Mozart’s telling of part two, this prequel to “The Marriage of Figaro” goes back in time to where it all began. The opera runs for two hours, and will be sung in Italian with English translations above the stage. It is sponsored by Helen Downing.

At 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 20, guests are invited to enjoy an evening of music as the Milnes VOICE Studio artists present an Opera Scenes and Songs Showcase at the Morris Center. After two weeks of intense study and hard work, these musical prodigies will present their artistry to audiences who have followed their progress throughout the festival. Their final festival performance is sponsored by Carolyn Donovan.

Competing for prizes and opportunities, singers will work with Milnes and Zouves during “Opera Idol” at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21. The event, portrayed in a master class setting, gives audience members the chance to vote for their favorite artists and allows opera company directors to hear Savannah VOICE Festival’s emerging artists. This competitive event, sponsored by Barbara Wilson, will be held at the Morris Center.

At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 22, SVF fans who missed the first performance of Rossini’s “il Barbieri di Siviglia” (The Barber of Seville) will be thrilled with a second opportunity to catch the comedic opera. The humorous tale will again unfold within the Morris Center and is sponsored by Helen Downing.

VOICES Around the World, a longtime festival favorite, showcases artists from around the world as they enjoy sharing songs from their own countries. At 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 24, guests can travel around the globe – from Germany, to Spain and more, then back again –through a songful journey starting at Christ Church, 28 Bull St. The performance is sponsored by the Teutonic Council of Savannah.

Milnes will teach a fifth master class from 1-3 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25, this time in partnership with Armstrong State University. This is a special free presentation for the general public with Armstrong University students and the Milnes VOICE Studio singers. It will be held at ASU’s Fine Arts Auditorium, 11935 Abercorn St.

The Salon Series concludes with a more serious nod to music in “CAMELOT - Songs of King Arthur’s Court” from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19 at the Green Meldrim House. As the festival closes, patrons will delve into the romance of King Arthur with an evening of excerpts from the Lerner and Lowe classic and other Arthurian themed music. The VOICE Society members-only event, which also features a meet-the-artists champagne reception, is hosted and sponsored by St. John’s Episcopal Church.

Focusing on the comedic aspects of opera, musical theatre and song, the 2017 Festival Finale, “Funny@Five” will blend beautiful voices, a few laughs and some glorious music in Savannah’s newest performance hall at Esther F. Garrison School for the Visual and Performing Arts. The finale, slated for 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26, is sponsored by Naomi and Barry R. Cohen.

After three weeks of great music, the festival will bid guests farewell for a fifth year with a special dinner at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 27 on Skidaway Island. At the Festival Gala Dinner, the 2018 season operas will be announced as patrons enjoy delightful cuisine, music and friends. This special evening, to close out SVF’s fifth anniversary season, will be at the Plantation Club at the Landings.

With VOICE Society members enjoying more opportunities to be part of the music, the Savannah VOICE Festival encourages its audience to become part of the family. To enroll as a member or learn more about the program’s benefits, visit, email or call 855-76-OPERA (67372).

Some festival events will be free with other individual events offering tickets from $35-$125. Tickets are now on sale to the general public and special packages for the 2017 season are available. For dedicated festival lovers, these packages offer diverse and exciting options:

  • Festival Five Package: $225

This includes five ticketed, non-member, non-dining events of the purchaser’s choice.

  • Festival Ticket Pass: $550 (a $630 value)

Purchasers may enjoy all 14 ticketed non-member, non-dining events, including one “Barber of Seville” performance (date of ticketholder’s choice).

  • Festival Ticket and Dining Pass: $750 (a $880 value)

This package includes all non-member tickets and non-member dining events — 16 in total — including one “Barber of Seville” performance (date of ticketholder’s choice) in addition to a special pass member reception before the Festival Gala Dinner.

  • Voice Society Festival Pass: $950 (an $1,100 value)

This package includes tickets for all non-member and VOICE Society events, all dining events — 19 in total — including one “Barber of Seville” performance (date of ticketholder’s choice) in addition to a special pass member reception before Festival Gala Dinner.

  • Friend of the Festival ALL ACCESS PASS: $1,250

This full-access package gets patrons up close and personal with the making of an artist. It includes a special all-access badge, early and premium seating, tickets for all non-member and VOICE Society events, all dining events, special pass member reception before Festival Gala Dinner and one “Barber of Seville” performance (ticketholder’s date of choice), plus Milnes VOICE Studio auditing and observation in the Westin rehearsal spaces, which will be at pre-arranged intervals in the festival schedule.

Other than seating preferences given to package purchasers, all tickets are general admission. Tickets will be at Will Call at the door of each event unless otherwise requested. At each event, the doors open 30 minutes prior to show time for the general public and 40 minutes prior for all VOICE Society members and all-access badge holders with proper ID. Access passes are non-transferrable.

The show times, venues and concerts are subject to change. All pricing is per person and includes 7 percent sales tax. Children 16 and under, students and military members with proper ID can purchase tickets for $15 at the door 30 minutes prior to showtime.

To join the VOICE Society, buy tickets for the 2017 Savannah VOICE Festival or for more information about the Savannah VOICE Festival, visit, email or call 855-76-OPERA (67372).