Georgia Magazine - April 2017 - 22
Last season, Miller took a road
trip through the minor leagues,
where he serenaded fans with "God
Bless America" and the national
anthem at the Southern League AllStar Game in Pearl, Miss. During his
travels, he got a closer look at the
Braves' young talent, like shortstop
Dansby Swanson and second baseman Ozzie Albies. He was encouraged by what he saw.
"[The Braves] are trying to
change the culture of the
organization," he says.
"It's an exciting time [to
be a Braves fan]. They
are stocked with talent
in the minor leagues. I
think they'll be even better than last year."
Miller is the kind of
person who can comfortably cover baseball and
opera in a single conversation. Hazleton sees
Miller as an excellent ambassador for the Atlanta
Opera and the musical
art form in general.
"He's a lot like
opera. He combines the
ability to act and the ability to sing," Hazleton says. "It's the
fun of the show and the spectacle
that the opera is-it's kind of like
So, then, could Braves fans who
enjoy Miller's stadium performances
be lured from the ballpark to the
Atlanta Opera's home in the Cobb
Energy Performing Arts Centre? After all, the two venues are less than
2 miles apart.
"People don't know what they
like until they experience it," Miller
says. "In Atlanta, we are all about
While many of the first operas
composed were based on Greek
tragedies, he says, the composer
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart brought
comedy to the art form. Mozart
liked to poke fun at aristocrats and
used his music to tell stories that
the common people could find
relatable-as, Miller says, might
in 2006 and reprised his signature
Braves performance at Gov. Nathan
Deal's 2011 inauguration. He's been
a featured soloist at the Macy's Great
Tree Lighting, participated in the
Atlanta Music Festival and sung in
various Atlanta churches and local
productions. Last year he made his
debut with the Georgia Symphony
Orchestra. But for the lifelong sports
fan, there's just something special
about mixing his two loves.
"I've sung in all the venues-
[Phillips Arena for] the Hawks, the
last home game for the Atlanta
Falcons at the Georgia Dome [in
2016]-but singing in the baseball
park is more like a theater than
anything else, especially when the
crowd is singing along with me," he
says. "You can't hear what I can on
the field. It's the closest thing to an
orchestral experience. It's a wonderful treat for me."
Before he takes the field, Miller
often talks with the military "hometown heroes" frequently featured at
home games. He gets the chills along
with the crowd when there is a military jet flyover, and sometimes he is
moved to tears by the heroes' stories
in the innings before he sings. Those
emotional moments help energize
his performances. Best of all, he gets
to do all that while enjoying a game
and soaking up the unique ambiance
of live sports.
"Some things work on TV," he
says, "but with baseball, you have to
be in the park."
"Go and see a good 'first opera,'"
he advises. "Nothing too complicated."
First-time operagoers might be
happiest choosing a family-friendly
production. Miller suggests Mozart's
"The Magic Flute" or Peter Ash's
"The Golden Ticket" (based on Roald
Dahl's book "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"), both of which have
been staged by the Atlanta Opera in
'Timothy Miller has been
performing 'God Bless America'
at our home games for several
years now, but his performance
never ceases to give us chills.'
More online at www.georgiamagazine.org
-Scott Cunningham, senior director of
fan experience for the Atlanta Braves.
Sometimes operas are performed
in English. The Atlanta Opera, like
many companies, projects lyrics translated into English as supertitles above
the stage. All these things, he says,
help to make operas "friendly, so you
can understand and enjoy them."
Miller is a fan of composer Giacomo Puccini, whose "La Bohème" is
a favorite for both Miller and many
opera fans. He'd love to be part of
another Puccini production or perhaps even bring his dream role to life:
Giuseppe Verdi's "Otello" (based on
William Shakespeare's play "Othello").
Until then, fans can count on catching
him in front of a microphone in
a sparkling new ballpark.
"As I go through my 30s, my
voice has gotten heavier and darker,"
Miller says. "So we'll see where it
goes before I hang up my cleats."
Rosalyn Dunn is a freelance
writer living in Atlanta who enjoys
both opera and baseball.