Classical Arts

Local organizations aim to redefine themselves to reach new audiences

By Richard Schultz, October 2015 Issue.

According to, there are 18 definitions of the word classic.

From “of enduring interest, quality, or style” to “an article, as of clothing, unchanging in style” the common idea is something that’s timeless as well as essential.

Classical arts are both. But that does not change the fact that Arizona’s classical arts organizations are in the midst of redefining themselves to reach new audiences and develop new works.

By enduring the hardships of the economy of recent years, these organizations recognize the need to aspire toward new creative horizons to attract audiences and financial support.

In the meantime, the local opera, ballet and symphony invite you to be a part of their 2015-2016 seasons.



Arizona Opera |

Arizona Lady

Tucson: Oct. 10-11
Phoenix: Oct. 16-18

As one of its “stories worth singing,” Arizona Opera becomes the first major U.S. opera house to premiere Emmerich Kálmán’s musical treasure. Written in 1953 as a love letter to the Southwest, the hopes and dreams of leading lady Lona Farrell ride on the back of one horse, “Arizona Lady,” winning the Kentucky Derby. Reminiscent of the greatest Golden-age Hollywood musical comedies, Arizona Lady is full of lively, upbeat music, cheerful, soaring arias and a wacky libretto, performed in German, English and Spanish with English supertitles.

Florencia en el Amazonas

Phoenix: Nov. 13-15 | Tucson: 21-22

Inspired by the magical realism of celebrated author Gabriel García Márquez, Florencia en el Amazonas is a journey through the physical and mystical worlds of love, desire and the mighty Amazon River. Florencia Grimaldi is travelling through the enchanted rainforest and hopes to find her long lost lover, a butterfly hunter who disappeared in the jungle many years ago. Wracked by storms and a cholera outbreak, she and her fellow passengers are drawn deeper into the Amazon where fantasy and reality intertwine and their hopes and dreams are tested.


Tucson: January 30-31 Phoenix: February 5-7

Carmen, the most famous Gypsy seductress in all of opera, ensnares countless men throughout Spain. When the dutiful soldier Don José falls prey to her charms, all hell breaks loose in this classic story of adoration and jealousy, pageantry and rage. Set against the backdrop of Spain during its Civil War, San Francisco Opera star mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack brings the fiery and fierce Carmen to life.

Don Giovanni

Phoenix: February 26-28  Tucson: March 5-6

Mozart’s Don Giovanni can’t resist women and women can’t resist him. With so many conquests, his servant, Leporello, can barely keep track of them all! Giovanni’s attention comes in the form of harassment and lies, and rages unchecked until the father of the beautiful Donna Anna arrives to put him in his place.


Phoenix: April 1-3
Tucson: April 9-10

Never before seen on the Arizona Opera stage, Verdi’s masterful interpretation of Shakespeare’s classic Elizabethan buffoon comes to life in this new production opening April Fool’s Day. Irascible, randy and boastful, John Falstaff concocts a scheme to seduce the wealthy Wives of Windsor and nab their riches. His plot quickly unravels in a series of elaborate pranks as the clever women enlist everyone to outwit the old rascal.


Ballet Arizona |


Oct. 29-Nov. 1

This comic ballet tells the story of an eccentric toymaker, life-size dancing dolls, and a young couple in love. Love triumphs over all in this beloved ballet, but only after a case of mistaken identity and hilarious mayhem.

The Sleeping Beauty

Feb. 11-14

This treasured fairy tale full of curses, fairies and fantasy displays all the charms and grandeur of classical ballet. This enchanting work mesmerizes with stunning costumes, dazzling sets and Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score.

Today’s Masters 2016

March 24-27

Spring begins with a program of contemporary ballets that represent the continuing development of the art form and its artists. The performance features choreography that pushes the boundaries of classical ballet, including the works by Ballet Arizona’s Ib Andersen.

03_Walpurgisnacht 7pm Opening Night

All Balanchine 2016

May 5-8

Ib Andersen is one of a handful of artists worldwide authorized by The Balanchine Trust to stage Balanchine’s masterpieces. Three ballets by the genius choreographer, George Balanchine, include Symphony in Three Movements, a work that Ballet Arizona will perform for the first time. This ballet is a large ensemble work that references the jazz influences of the Igor Stravinsky composition. Apollo, the ballet that Balanchine considered his artistic coming of age, is the famed story from Greek mythology in which Apollo, the god of music, is visited and instructed by three muses. Walpurgisnacht fills the stages with feminine charm and intoxicating beauty. Taken from the last act of Faust, it depicts the May Day Eve celebration with colorful costumes and flowing hair.


Phoenix Symphony |

Beet9Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 9”

Sept. 18-19

Maestro Tito Muñoz debuts his second season as The Phoenix Symphony’s Virginia G. Piper Music Director with Beethoven’s most celebrated and final masterpiece, “Symphony No. 9,” featuring the famous “Ode to Joy.” This opening-night program also features “American Symphony” by Adam Schoenberg, one of the most celebrated young composers of our time.

BraveTribute to the Brave 

Oct. 2-4

The APS Pops series kicks off with a dynamic multimedia experience in tribute to all who have fought for the freedom and those who revere our country’s great history as we mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the 100th anniversary of World War I and the 75th anniversary of World War II. Westwater Arts returns to Phoenix with powerful symphonic photochoreography using hundreds of archival photographs projected on screens above the orchestra.

Brahms_Symph2Brahms’ “Symphony No. 2”

Nov. 20-21

Tito Muñoz leads the orchestra in Brahms’ “Symphony No. 2.” After waiting many years to complete his first symphony, Brahms produced his second symphony almost overnight. The lilting “Symphony No. 2” is generally regarded as the most genial and relaxed of Brahms’s four works in the genre, but its finale is jubilant and electrifying. The program opens with Brahms’ ebullient Academic Festival Overture and 26-year-old South Korean violinist Jinjoo Cho plays Stravinsky’s neoclassical violin concerto.

Masterful Mozart 

Jan. 8-9

An all-Mozart program with pieces composed during the prolific and final years of Mozart’s short life includes “Symphony No. 39.” Internationally recognized pianist Shai Wosner, a BBC New Generation Artist, will make his Arizona debut performing the enigmatic “Piano Concerto No. 20” in a program that also features the delightful and popular “Eine kleine Nachtmusik” and the whimsical overture to the operatic comedy “Le nozze di Figaro” (The Marriage of Figaro).

Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 7”

Jan. 22-23

“Symphony No. 7,” which Beethoven felt was one of his best works, is primarily known for the hypnotic and beautiful second movement, which has been featured in many film scores including the Academy Award-Winning The King’s Speech; the symphony is both stirring and inspirational. The program opens with Andrew Norman’s new kinetic work, “Unstuck,” which musically documents his ability to overcome writers block.

GershwinThe Gershwin Experience: Here to Stay

March 11-13

This multimedia concert celebrates the genius of George and Ira Gershwin with hits like “I Got Rhythm,” “Strike Up the Band,” “The Man I Love,” “S Wonderful” and other favorites. Featuring leading Grammy award-winning soprano Lisa Vroman, and tap dancing sensation Ryan VanDemBoom, this event also showcases rare audio and video footage, family photos and elegant, state-of-the-art visuals of the Gershwins.


Southwest Shakespeare Company |

WivesWindsorThe Merry Wives of Windsor

Oct. 16-31

Sir John Falstaff, a visitor to the town of Windsor and needing money, sends letters to Mistresses Page and Ford in the hope of wooing them and tapping into their husbands’ fortunes. The women discover his intention and, enlisting Mistress Quickly as their messenger, set a trap. One of the merriest of Shakespeare comedies is peopled with riotous characters, such as Parson Hugh Evans and the insane Doctor Caius, all leading to a farcical mix and uproarious resolution.


Jan. 15-30

Set in the sun-bleached outpost of Cyprus, this tale of love and treachery boils with fury, honor, and consuming passions. The Moor Othello, a celebrated general but also an outsider, shares a boundless love with Desdemona, a Venetian aristocrat, but their happiness could be undone by the deceitful Lago, Othello’s military aide.


Feb. 26-March 12

It is October 1517 in northern Germany and the characters of Hamlet, his mentor John Faustus, and Faustus’ colleague and Hamlet’s instructor and priest, Martin Luther, all collide in a brilliant theatrical construction by David Davalos. How these three men’s sagas overlap and intertwine and how they end up irrevocably affecting the course of each other’s lives is the substance of this comedy that reveals the story behind the stories of Hamlet, Doctor Faustus and the Protestant Reformation. This delightful romp shines with clever wordplay and absurdist plot twists fortified by thought-provoking themes.

12th nightTwelfth Night

March 29-April 5

This deliciously dark comedy of mistaken identities and misdirected passions offers a touchingly human celebration of the delights and agonies of love, pride and celebration. Lovers and misfits, clowns and gentry collide in an entertaining cocktail of comic confusion. The vain and authoritarian Malvolio has commanded that there “shall be no more cakes and ale,” but he is taken in when a plot is hatched to fool him into thinking the lady of the house is in love with him.