Arizona Opera Announces Exciting 2023/24 Season Programming Updates
Arizona Opera Announces Exciting 2023/24 Season Programming Updates
PHOENIX and TUCSON, Arizona (October 11, 2023) -- Today, Arizona Opera announced exciting new details of expanded programs for its 2023/24 Season in Phoenix and Tucson, including a recital featuring one of the world’s most celebrated tenors, educational and community programs, a new series of outdoor concerts, and more. Arizona Opera’s 2023/24 Season includes something for everyone, from tried-and-true opera lovers to school-aged children and everyone in between—both inside the opera house and beyond.
“We are eager to continue connecting communities across Arizona through the power and beauty of opera, celebrating stunning traditional operas and powerful new works, while reaching beyond the walls of the opera house with impactful education, training, and community programs," said Arizona Opera's President and General Director, Joseph Specter.
ON STAGE AND BEYOND THE THEATRE
Lawrence Brownlee in Recital
Arizona Opera is thrilled to present Lawrence Brownlee in Recital in the company’s continued partnership with the Tucson Desert Song Festival (TDSF), March 13 at 7:00 PM at Holsclaw Hall on the University of Arizona campus in Tucson. Arizona Opera’s partnership with TDSF, spanning over a decade, makes it possible each year for our community in Arizona Opera’s birth city to experience some of the greatest singing artists alive, all in an intimate 200-seat venue.
Lawrence Brownlee is a leading figure in opera, both as a singer on the world's top stages and as a voice for activism and diversity in the industry. Captivating audiences and critics around the globe, he has been hailed as "an international star in the bel canto operatic repertory" (The New York Times), “one of the world’s leading bel canto stars” (The Guardian), and “one of the most in-demand opera singers in the world today” (NPR).
In the 2022/23 Season, Brownlee performed a program with longtime friend, collaborator, and fellow Rossini expert Michael Spyres entitled Amici e Rivali at the Theatre des Champs-Élysées, in addition to the premiere of an exciting new program titled Rising, which featured Brownlee and pianist Kevin J. Miller performing newly commissioned songs by composers Shawn Okpebholo, Damien Sneed, Joel Thompson, and others with texts drawn from James Weldon Johnson and other great Black writers of the Harlem Renaissance. Brownlee joins an extraordinary alumnus of singers that have performed in Tucson through Arizona Opera’s association with TDSF over the years, including Susan Graham, Matthew Polenzani, Lisette Oropesa, and more.
Opera Outdoors in Tucson
In addition to its partnership with the Tucson Desert Song Festival, Arizona Opera is eager to announce its new recital series, Opera Outdoors, designed to reach Tucsonans beyond the walls of the theater. These outdoor performances will bring the arts to those who may not otherwise be able to access them within a traditional theatre setting. Experience Opera Outdoors at unique community venues like Reid Park Zoo and the Temple of Music and Art, performed by our Marion Roose Pullin Arizona Opera Studio Artists with piano accompaniment. Programs will include a variety of popular opera selections, perfect for those new to opera or seasoned operagoers.
Friday, October 20, 2023, at 12:15 PM – The Temple of Music and Art Courtyard
Friday, February 2, 2024, at 12:15 PM – Tucson Botanical Gardens
Friday, March 8, 2024, at 12:15 PM – Reid Park Zoo
Friday, April 26, 2024, at 12:15 PM – Tucson Museum of Art
EDUCATION AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT PROGRAMS
Arizona Opera’s K-12 education programs continue to flourish, bringing its Arlyn M. Brewster OperaTunity in-school touring program to Tucson in 2023 with performances of Beauty and the Beast and Phoenix in 2024 with a new performance of Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? OperaTunity is currently enjoying a successful run of Beauty and the Beast performances in Phoenix.
For the first time, Arizona Opera will present daytime Student Preview performances of The Barber of Seville, Jan. 25, 2024, and Roméo & Juliette, Feb. 29, 2024. The daytime previews will provide field trip opportunities for thousands of school-aged students to experience opera and the performing arts. Additionally, there will be evening Student Preview performances of Frankenstein, Oct. 11, 2023, and Don Giovanni, Apr. 18, 2024.
"Arizona Opera continues to bring arts education to the community. Annually, we provide arts experiences for over 50,000 students in over 30 school districts across Arizona through our outreach programming efforts," said Cassie Hollerbach, Director of Education and Community Engagement.
“In addition to extending our Tucson Seats-for-Students program, we are especially excited to introduce daytime Student Preview performances in Phoenix, where students will take a field trip to Symphony Hall and enjoy what will be most students' first opera! We can give them an opera experience they may not otherwise have been exposed to because of accessibility, financial reasons, and demographic restrictions. Each opera is paired with a preview video for educators to share with their students before attending the performance."
Opera for Lunch continues in the 2023/24 Season, giving daytime employees, young families, and retirees across the community a chance to step away and experience world-class singing. This free, 30-minute lunchtime recital occurs monthly at 12:15 PM at the Arizona Opera Center in Phoenix.
Opera Book Club returns in 2023 with a brand-new book selection and virtual meetings in collaboration with Pima County Public Library. The Book Club aims to augment the opera experience by learning more about the stories on which these works were based – great literary works, historical events, legendary people, and even current issues.
NEW WORKS FESTIVAL
Arizona Opera embraces the importance of bringing new, exciting, and socially relevant operas to the communities we serve as we seek to impact increasingly more people through this vibrant art form in the years to come.
As part of this ongoing effort, the 2023/24 Season will see the debut of the inaugural New Works Festival in Phoenix. Recently moved to new dates in May (May 10-12, 2024), the inaugural offering is designed as an immersive experience highlighting contemporary and unique selections from two new operas – Zorro and Intimate Apparel. The festival invites patrons to be the first to preview these poignant works and share their feedback on pieces being considered for full productions on Arizona Opera’s stage. Food and beverages round out a festive weekend.
Zorro, with score and libretto by Hector Armienta, is a swashbuckling adventure opera based on and inspired by the masked vigilante of pulp fiction fame. Set in Los Angeles when it was still a colony of Spain, this re-telling of the Zorro legend naturally follows Diego de la Vega, an esteemed swordsman and Spanish nobleman, as he fights for the poor and enslaved. As if a comic book and a telenovela have come to life, this family-friendly opera is sung in both Spanish and English, filled with all the romance, swordplay, and humor that is a trademark of the Zorro universe.
Intimate Apparel, composed by Ricky Ian Gordon and with a libretto by Lynn Nottage, is set in 1905 in turn of the century New York. The opera, based on Nottage’s play—one of the most produced plays in America—tells the story of Esther, a lonely, single African American woman who makes her living sewing beautiful corsets and ladies’ undergarments. There is warm affection between her and the Orthodox Jewish man who sells fabrics to her, but any relationship between them, even a touch, is completely forbidden. Seeking love and romance, Esther eventually engages in a letter-writing relationship with a mysterious suitor laboring on the Panama Canal. When he moves to New York, they embark on an unhappy marriage, leading Esther to realize that only her self-reliance and certainty of her worth will see her through life's challenges.
Our second annual Studio Cabaret, featuring young singers from the Marion Roose Pullin Arizona Opera Studio, will occur on March 21 in Phoenix and March 24 in Tucson. The program will feature classical Musical Theatre, Golden Age songs, contemporary tunes, and opera samplings.
This fun and exciting event will be hosted by countertenor John Holiday, who is among the opera world’s fastest-rising stars, deftly bridging genres from baroque to contemporary classical, jazz to spirituals, and bringing his unique voice and charisma to every performance.
Holiday has established himself as “one of the finest countertenors of his generation” (Los Angeles Times). Recent and career highlights include Man Under Arch and Hotel Clerk in Kevin Put’s The Hours at Metropolitan Opera, his debut with Lyric Opera of Chicago in the World Premiere of Four Portraits by Caroline Shaw and Jocelyn Clark, Metropolitan Opera debut in Matthew Aucoin’s Eurydice as Orpheus’s Double, Handel’s Messiah with the New York Philharmonic, and his debut at the Bayerische Staatsoper as Nerone in Agrippina.
An acclaimed concert singer and versatile artist, Holiday has performed at venues such as Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, London’s Barbican Center, Philharmonie de Paris, and was notably a finalist on NBC’s The Voice. The 2023/24 Season brings a return to Dutch National Opera as Nerone in Agrippina, Bayerische Staatsoper as Prince Go-Go in Le Grande Macabre, and to Metropolitan Opera to reprise his roles in The Hours.
In residence all season, the Marion Roose Pullin Arizona Opera Studio Artists can be seen performing on both the main stage and throughout Arizona. The Pullin Opera Studio also provides well-rounded, personalized instruction that propels each artist to the next level. These opportunities help bridge the gap between academic studies and a professional career. The Pullin Opera Studio is part of Arizona Opera’s NextGen Initiative, which encompasses various programs that go beyond the opera stage to develop the next generation of opera artists, audiences, and philanthropists.
Sponsors for Arizona Opera’s Expanded Programs:
New Works Festival
Part of the McDougall Arizona Opera RED Series. Production made possible, in part, through generous support from Ron and Kay McDougall, Carol Franc Buck Foundation, and Michael and Beth Kasser.
Arizona Opera’s NextGen programs are made possible, in part, thanks to generous support from: The Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation, Jeannette Segel, The Molly Blank Fund, APS, Milo and Kim Kauffman, and a consortium of individual donors.
Department of Education (including the Brewster OperaTunity Tour and Student Night)
Arizona Opera’s Education and Community Engagement programs are made possible, in part, thanks to the support of: Dr. Herschel Rosenzweig, Invest in Kids Charitable Fund, The Moreno Family Foundation, A Gift in Memory of Elsa Reichenbach, The City of Peoria, Cardinals Charities, The Krumholz Foundation, the William E. Hall Foundation held at the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, and a consortium of individual donors.
Marion Roose Pullin Opera Studio
Peter Barber, bass-baritone
Sponsored by Marlu Allan and Scott Stallard
Brad Bickhardt, tenor
Sponsored by Alan and Linda Englander, and Ole and Teri Thienhaus
Lauren Cook, mezzo-soprano
Sponsored by Drs. Tom and Ginger Collier
Véronique Filloux, soprano
Sponsored by Ron and Kay McDougall
Yazid Gray, baritone
Sponsored by Roma Wittcoff
Kihwa Kim, pianist
Sponsored by Matt and Ann Melsheimer
Mario Pacheco, assistant stage director
Sponsored by Shoshana B. Tancer and Helen S. Pierson
Arizona Opera’s Production Apprentice Program is made possible through the support of a consortium of individual donors.