Bold. Brave. Brilliant.

Arizona Opera Announces Return to In-Theater Performances for Its 2021/22 Season, Celebrating Its 50th Anniversary of Service to the Community

Sunday, April 11, 2021

The season launches with the company’s second world premiere, now to be a feature length film,

The in-theater regional premiere of the newest holiday-themed mariachi opera,

A gorgeous, traditional production of one of the most popular operas of all time,

A Sondheim musical theater classic featuring two of opera’s most recognized stars, with sets and costumes designed by an American Fashion Icon,

A new production of a Mozart classic in its first fully staged performances in over a decade,

And a continued commitment to community impact through the NextGen Initiative, including education and engagement programs, training programs, and digital programming


PHOENIX and TUCSON, Arizona – Arizona Opera’s President and General Director, Joseph Specter, officially announced today the organization’s 2021/22 Season—its 50th Anniversary Season—which will feature an exciting and diverse programming schedule of five productions, including the release of the company’s first world premiere film and four planned in-theater productions in both Phoenix and Tucson.

“Our 50th Anniversary Season would be a reason to celebrate in and of itself as we begin to emerge from this challenging pandemic year. It is made that much more meaningful by the prospect of our returning to in-theater performances this December in both Phoenix and Tucson.”

He continued, “We thank the communities that we have had the honor of serving as we reach this milestone. Their decades of devotion and love for this art form have made this anniversary possible. It would also be impossible not to thank the Arizona Opera Board, who have demonstrated incredible leadership and generosity in helping us to persevere through the pandemic to reach this moment.

“While we eagerly anticipate our return to in-theater performances in our 50th Anniversary Season, first and foremost will always be the health and safety of our audience, staff and artists. For this reason, we will continue to work with Arizona Opera’s Health Advisory Task Force to ensure that all necessary precautions are taken throughout the year in service to our entire opera family.

“We also understand that there may be patrons who require extra time to make their decision about when they return to public gatherings, including our own in-theater performances. For this reason, we have extended our season ticket renewal period by several months in order to allow patrons additional flexibility in their decision-making process.

“In addition to our in-theater productions, our 50th Anniversary Season will focus on the continued creation of digital programs that can be experienced and enjoyed from the comfort of one’s home. Being able to connect with opera newcomers and longtime lovers of the art form through our digital programming—both within Arizona and beyond—has been one of the bright lights during the past year, and we are eager to explore how we can grow our impact even further in the year ahead.”

In summary, Mr. Specter also noted, “There is no question that Arizona Opera has had a remarkable first 50 years. We are even more inspired about the prospects for its next 50, and we can’t wait to celebrate with all of our friends throughout the season ahead, both online and in-theater.”

(Please note: Full casting and creative team details will be announced in May.)



The Copper Queen Film and El Milagro del Recuerdo


The Copper Queen Film

Clint Borzoni, Composer | John de los Santos, Librettist

To Be Released in October 2021 on Arizona Opera OnDemand (


Arizona Opera’s 2021/22 Season will open in a fresh and exciting way, with the McDougall RED Series film premiere of The Copper Queen with music by Clint Borzoni and a libretto by John de los Santos. The production, originally slated to be performed in-theater during the 2020/21 Season, was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and then reimagined as a film project. It will now be viewable by opera lovers not only in Arizona Opera’s home state, but across the country and the globe.

Featuring Arizona Opera’s first ever all-female director/conductor/designer team, led by Crystal Manich, the idea for The Copper Queen originated as part of Arizona Opera’s SPARK initiative, which fosters the creation and support of new work.

The Copper Queen tells the story of Julia Lowell, a resident of The Copper Queen Hotel in Bisbee, Arizona in 1910, where she was forced to live in captivity in service to the men of the town. A century later, Addison Moore – a stranger to Bisbee – visits Room 315, the site of Julia’s tragic death, where her ghost now famously roams. This riveting tale – told across the generations – is one of human bondage, furtive romance, secret connections, and ultimately – redemption.

“Clint and I are so excited to bring the premiere of The Copper Queen to opera audiences across the globe in this compelling new vision,” stated John de los Santos, the opera’s librettist.

Clint Borzoni, the composer of The Copper Queen, added, “I believe that the intimacy of the work lends itself well to film, since the piece is a dark and rich character study. Through the lyrical score and gripping plot, I'm confident audiences will be pulled into the haunted room along with the characters.”

Arizona Opera has partnered with Phoenix-based Manley Films to bring the project to life, which is being filmed this spring for its much-anticipated online release in October.


El Milagro del Recuerdo (The Miracle of Remembering)

Production by Leonard Foglia | Javier Martínez, Composer | Leonard Foglia, Librettist

Phoenix – December 3-5, 2021 – Herberger Theater Center

Tucson – December 11-12, 2021 – Temple of Music and Art


Arizona Opera is planning its return to in-theater performances with the McDougall RED Series Regional Premiere of a new, holiday-themed mariachi opera – El Milagro del Recuerdo (The Miracle of Remembering) – with music by Javier Martínez, and production and libretto by Leonard Foglia. El Milagro del Recuerdo is a co-production of Arizona Opera, San Diego Opera, and Houston Grand Opera—where it opened to great acclaim in 2019. Arizona Opera’s production of El Milagro del Recuerdo will mark only the second time the work has been performed.

The border story of El Milagro del Recuerdo is a prequel to the hugely popular Cruzar la Cara de la Luna, which Arizona Opera presented to audience and critical praise during its 2014/15 Season. The opera’s music is composed by Javier Martínez, taking up the mantle of his father, José “Pepe” Martínez (1941-2016), the longtime music director of Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán and composer of the mariachi operas Cruzar la Cara de la Luna and El Pasado Nunca Se Termina.

Director and Librettist Leonard Foglia comments: “The piece deals with the basic issues surrounding the choices people have to make in life. It tells universal, human stories. How do we make decisions about what’s important? I hope it resonates with everyone.”



Carmen, A Little Night Music, Così fan tutte

Arizona Opera’s 50th Anniversary Season’s three Main Stage Series productions will be presented in winter/spring 2022 at Symphony Hall in Phoenix and at the newly-renovated Tucson Music Hall.

Among the works to be featured are the return of one of the most popular operas in the entire canon, Bizet’s Carmen, and Mozart’s delightfully scandalous masterpiece, Così fan tutte. Rounding out the Main Stage Series will be a stylish production of A Little Night Music, Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s Tony Award-winning theatrical classic, presented as part of the Marlu Allan and Scott Stallard Modern Masterworks Series.



Georges Bizet, Composer | Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, Librettists

Phoenix – January 28-30, 2022 – Symphony Hall

Tucson – February 5-6, 2022 – Tucson Music Hall

One of the world’s most popular operas, Carmen, returns to the stage as an in-theater production in January and February 2022.

The ultimate diva, the gypsy Carmen can ignite men’s desires and fill their hearts with passion at a single glance. When Don José, a naïve soldier fighting in the Spanish Civil War, gets caught in her web, jealousy rages and anarchy reigns supreme.

The thrilling score by French composer Georges Bizet includes some of the most popular and recognizable music in all of opera, including Habanera and The Toreador Song. From its lighthearted beginnings to its tragic and destined climax, Carmen is indeed one of opera’s most dynamic and thrilling works in the traditional repertoire.

Stage Director Stephanie Havey says of this beloved masterpiece: “Carmen juxtaposes the facade of civilization and the mysterious forces of primitive desires. Carmen glorifies freedom above all else, challenging the norms that govern hearts and minds. I am looking forward to bringing this iconic opera and its disruptive heroine to life.”


A Little Night Music

Stephen Sondheim, Music and Lyrics | Book by Hugh Wheeler

Phoenix – March 4-6, 2022 – Symphony Hall

Tucson – March 12-13, 2022 – Tucson Music Hall


Presented as part of the Marlu Allan and Scott Stallard Modern Masterworks Series, A Little Night Music is the Tony Award and Drama Desk-winning Best Musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Hugh Wheeler. Arizona Opera’s production features an alluring scenic and costume design by American fashion icon, Isaac Mizrahi.

Inspired by the Ingmar Bergman film, Smiles of a Summer Night, A Little Night Music focuses on a deliciously tangled web of affairs, all ripe with the possibility of new love and second chances. A comedy of manners with rapturous music, it is moving, witty, heartbreaking, and – most of all – a celebration of love. Among the songs in this groundbreaking theatrical piece is Send in the Clowns, one of the most recorded songs of all time.

Arizona Opera’s production of A Little Night Music will feature the internationally acclaimed American soprano, Patricia Racette as Desiree, and operatic star Paulo Szot, who won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for the Lincoln Center revival of South Pacific.

Since its premiere on Broadway in 1973 at the Shubert Theater, A Little Night Music has been performed on London’s West End and in major Broadway revivals. It was also adapted for film by Hal Prince with a cast that included Elizabeth Taylor, Len Cariou, and Diana Rigg. Given its sweeping and beautiful musical score, A Little Night Music has also been performed by a number of notable opera companies, including Houston Grand Opera, Los Angeles Opera, and Opera Theater of St. Louis.


Così fan tutte

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Composer | Lorenzo Da Ponte, Librettist

Phoenix –April 8-10, 2022 – Symphony Hall

Tucson – April 16-17, 2022 – Tucson Music Hall

Arizona Opera’s 50th Anniversary Main Stage Series comes to a close with a new production of Mozart’s Così fan tutte, with libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte, who also partnered with Mozart on The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni.

In its first fully-staged Arizona Opera performances in over a decade, Così tells the story of two sisters who are mistakenly led to believe that their fiancés have been called to war. In truth, their lovers were only out to test their fidelity, so they return home – in disguise – to seek the truth. Among the delightful cast of characters in this Mozart classic are Despina, the nosy maid, and Don Alfonso, a philosopher who is actually behind the scenes pulling the strings and making it all happen.

This season finale will also celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the company’s Marion Roose Pullin Opera Studio, and will be created under the artistic leadership of Arizona Opera’s second all-female director/conductor/designer team.

Arizona Opera’s Head of Music and Director of the Pullin Opera Studio, Christopher Cano, shares: “What a tremendous way to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of our Studio program here at Arizona Opera. Featuring former and current Studio Artists in such a beloved classic will highlight not only the professional significance of the program in their artistic journey, but it also allows us to honor the generous contribution these young talents bring to the table.”


Arizona Opera’s NextGen Initiative

As the world continues its recovery from the pandemic, Arizona Opera is reaffirming its commitment to community and artistic impact through its NextGen Initiative, which encompasses programs that go beyond the opera stage to develop the next generation of opera artists, audiences, and philanthropists.

In-Person and Virtual Audience Engagement

In addition to its on-stage programming, Arizona Opera will present a wide range of community and special events during its 50th Anniversary Season. Many will be free or low-cost and designed to welcome newcomers to the art form through lecture series, the Arizona Opera Book Club, and public performances.

Additionally, Arizona Opera is in discussion about producing additional episodes of its well-received digital offerings that premiered during the Reimagined 2020/21 Season through its Connection Lab initiative, such as UnMic’d, Arizona Opera Behind-the-Scenes Podcast, and LOUD! (Living Opera, Understanding Diversity).


K-12 Education Programs

As part of its on-going commitment to education in Arizona, Arizona Opera is currently exploring the timing of the safe return of the Arlyn M. Brewster OperaTunity in-school touring program and Student Night at the Opera, in hopes of sharing the artform with almost 50,000 students across the state, as in past years.

“Arizona Opera’s on-stage presence is a core aspect of our work, but we are equally proud of—and devoted to—our work in arts education. The scope of our efforts in this area places us among the top opera companies in the United States in terms of program reach. These programs not only create the opportunity for a lifelong love of music and opera, but also support the full spectrum of learning across subject areas. Through our education programs, our goal is to create truly meaningful impact that will last a lifetime,” commented Cassie Robel, Director of Education and Community Engagement.


Marion Roose Pullin Studio Artist Program

The 2021/22 Season marks the 15th year of the Marion Roose Pullin Arizona Opera Studio. Returning to the studio are Cheyanne Coss (soprano), Caitlin Gotimer (soprano), Mack Wolz (mezzo-soprano), Terrence Chin-Loy (tenor), Rob McGinness (baritone) and Haley Stamats (assistant director).

Pullin Studio Artists play a key part in Arizona Opera’s Season, including portraying a number of leading roles on the main stage, in addition to serving as ambassadors for both the company and the art form throughout the community. The Studio Program is one of the most competitive training programs of its kind in the country.


Production Apprentice Program

Arizona Opera’s Production Apprentice Program bridges the divide between academic studies and a professional career, helping young theater technicians learn the skills and gain the experience necessary to begin their careers with confidence.

“Thanks to our generous supporters, Arizona Opera is uniquely situated to allow aspiring theatre production artisans the opportunity to hone and learn the skills of our trade while gaining professional, resume building experience. This program truly merges education and profession through its cross-discipline training, network opportunities, masterclasses, and portfolio reviews. Through apprenticeships, Arizona Opera is not only helping these theatre artisans to establish themselves in the arts, we are also shaping the bedrock for the future of the theatre production industry,” commented Kathleen Trott, Arizona Opera’s Costume Shop Manager.



With its vibrant combination of both new and classic works of the highest quality, music education and community programs that reach tens of thousands across the state, and cultivation of rising talent to build a bright future for the art form, Arizona Opera’s 50th Anniversary 2021/22 Season promises to be its most significant yet.

Stated Arizona Opera Board Chair, Sharon Landis, “We are thrilled to be able to welcome everyone to our 50th Anniversary Season, which will showcase the artistic vibrancy of one of our state’s cultural crown jewels.”

She continued, “Whether it is our first world premiere film that will be streamed around the world, the expansion of our impactful education and community outreach programs, or the planned return to in-theater performances with some of opera and theater’s most exceptional music, we have much reason to celebrate in the season ahead—with both longtime devotees to opera and newcomers alike.”


Ticket Information

Season Tickets for Arizona Opera’s 2021/22 Season will go on sale starting Monday, May 3, 2021. Ticket purchasing access and priority seating will be given to current season subscribers. For more information, visit

For additional questions and PR requests about the information contained in this release, please contact Tom Michel, Arizona

Opera’s Director of Marketing, Communications and PR at or 702.533.0075.

*All information contained herein is subject to change



The Copper Queen Film Credits:

Part of the McDougall Arizona Opera RED Series. Lead underwriting provided by Matt and Ann Melsheimer. Production made possible, in part, through additional generous support from Marlu Allan and Scott Stallard, Roma Wittcoff, the Carol Franc Buck Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Michael and Beth Kasser, Margaret T. Morris Foundation, Drs. Stephen and Barbara Munk, Charles and Jennifer Sands, Ron and Kay McDougall, Colonel (Ret.) Kimberly Smith, Dr. Judith G. Wolf, and members of the Arizona Spark Commissioning Club.

The all-female conductor-director-designer team of The Copper Queen is generously supported by a consortium of donors, led by Susan Esco Chandler, Milo and Kim Kauffman, and Linda Hirshman.


El Milagro del Recuerdo Credits:

Commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera

Premiered by Houston Grand Opera in December, 2019

A Co-Production of Arizona Opera, Houston Grand Opera, and San Diego Opera

Part of the McDougall Arizona Opera RED Series. Production made possible, in part, through generous support from Drs. Herschel and Jill Rosenzweig, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Michael and Beth Kasser.


Carmen Credits: Part of the Arizona Opera Main Stage Series. Production made possible, in part, through generous support from Marlys A. Beider.


A Little Night Music Credits: Part of the Arizona Opera Main Stage Series and the Marlu Allan and Scott Stallard Modern Masterworks Series.


Così fan tutte Credits: Part of the Arizona Opera Main Stage Series. Production made possible, in part, through generous support from Karen Fruen, the Carol Franc Buck Foundation, and Marlys A. Beider.


About Arizona Opera

Arizona Opera, entering its 50th Season in fall of 2021, produces fully-staged operas, concerts, and collaborative programs throughout the state of Arizona each season, and is among only a handful of companies in the U.S. that regularly performs in more than one city. Arizona Opera elevates the transformative power of storytelling through music, cultivating community and strengthening a state and people as adventurous and diverse as the place they call home. Since its inaugural year in 1971, Arizona Opera has produced more than 200 fully-staged operas and concerts. The company's artistic history is rich with a blend of operas traditional repertoire featuring baroque, bel canto, and verismo works, turn-of-the-century masterpieces, operettas, and American operas.