By Seth Reines, October 2018 Issue.
Arizona Opera, originally the Tucson Opera Company, was founded in 1971 by a dedicated group of opera enthusiasts.
Its inaugural season featured two performances of Gioachino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville in Tucson. By the 1976-1977 season, Arizona Opera was performing complete seasons in both Tucson and Phoenix.
Since its inaugural year, Arizona Opera has produced over 170 fully-staged operas and concerts.
“Arizona Opera continually strives to be an ever-growing, dynamic part of the arts community in the state of Arizona,” said John Johnson, Arizona Opera board chair. “We are working to help connect our community more fully to a broader artistic conversation that is happening nationally and internationally, through this powerful art form.”
September marks a bold new chapter for Arizona Opera, as they expand programming to create a more-inclusive opera season. Arizona Opera will continue to deliver large-scale productions of classic operas supported by world-class singers, while further diversifying its lineup with adventurous contemporary works to entice newcomers to the vibrant world of opera.
Arizona Opera’s New RED Series
To offer audiences an opportunity to experience this art form in a more visceral way, the new fall series, will be presented in more intimate venues, Herberger Theater Center (222 E. Monroe St., in Phoenix) and Temple of Music and Art (330 S. Scott Ave., in Tucson).
Maria de Buenos
Phoenix: Sept. 28-30
Tucson: Oct. 6 -7
Created by the great tango master, Astor Piazzolla, this masterpiece of contemporary opera comes to life in a surreal, seductive and compelling story. Born “on a day when God was drunk,” Maria is driven by a wild passion for freedom – embodying tango in the midst of the alluring and dangerous underbelly of Buenos Aires. The ill-fated Maria comes to life through Piazzolla’s irresistible nuevo tango and the provocative poetry of Horacio Ferrer.
Charlie Parker’s Yardbird
Phoenix: Nov. 9- 11
Tucson: Nov. 17-18
Daniel Schnyder and Bridgette Wimberly’s jazz-influenced opera tells the story of the great American saxophonist, Charlie Parker, as he searches for redemption from his personal demons through the power of music. As he straddles the line between life and death, Parker must come to grips with his impact on the lives of those he left behind, including trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, his mother and his four wives.
Arizona Opera’s Mainstage Series
The more traditional winter/spring series will feature two works from opera’s classic repertoire along with one modern masterwork. These productions will be presented in Arizona Opera’s traditional venues, Symphony Hall (75 N. Second St., in Phoenix) and Tucson Music Hall (260 S. Church Ave.).
Phoenix: Jan. 25-27
Tucson: Feb. 2-3
Verdi’s powerful and passionate masterpiece, La Traviata, is one of the best known and loved operas of all time. Violetta, a courtesan, and Alfredo, the man who falls madly in love with her, ignite a passionate love affair as they seek to escape the realities of the realities of family, love, life and death. Can they survive as the world threatens to tear them apart?
Phoenix: March 1-3
Tucson: March 9-10
Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell’s Pulitzer Prize-winning opera, Silent Night, is a gripping retelling of the real-life World War I Christmas Eve truce among enemy combatants in 1914. When soldiers from Germany, Scotland and France find themselves on the front line, personal lives collide with the horrors of war, and each side must reconcile their role as adversaries with the compassionate spirit of the season.
The Marriage of Figaro
Phoenix: April 5-7
Tucson: April 13-14
Mozart’s comic tale of wit and mistaken identity comes brilliantly to life in The Marriage of Figaro. In a country estate outside Seville, the valet Figaro plans for his wedding to the maid, Susanna. When he discovers that his employer, the philandering Count Almaviva, plans to seduce his bride, Figaro vows to outwit his master. Mistaken identities, desire, and infidelity all play a role in determining whether love conquers all.
For more information on Arizona Opera’s 2018-2019 season or tickets to the RED and Main Stage series, visit azopera.org.