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Arizona Opera: Behind the Scenes! A Podcast

Arizona Opera: Behind the Scenes! A Podcast

Join your hosts, Cassie Hollerbach (The Director of Education) and Kathleen Trott (The Marlu Allan and Scott Stallard Costume Artisan Workshop Manager) as they delve into all of the departments and peoples who work to create the operas you know and enjoy. Listen along as they have candid and entertaining conversations with Arizona Opera artisans about how staff members came to work for Arizona Opera, what the different jobs at Arizona Opera are, and even what makes an opera an opera.

Subscribe to Arizona Opera: Behind the Scenes! to stay connected to Arizona Opera while learning some surprising details about all the hundreds of people who work to make each performance happen.



Meet the Hosts!

Cassie Robel Director of Education & Community Engagement

Cassie Hollerbach
Director of Education

Kathleen Trott The Marlu Allan and Scott Stallard Costume Artisan Workshop Manger

Kathleen Trott
The Marlu Allan and Scott
Stallard Costume Artisan
Workshop Manger

Episode Information:

Season 3, Episode 4: Meet the Lighting Supervisor (Bringing the Story to Life with Light)

Release Date: April 25, 2023

Join Cassie & Kathleen as they meet Bradley Taylor, Arizona Opera’s Lighting Supervisor and Assistant Lighting Designer. Learn how the lightening department brings our shows to life through color and foot candles, and learn what a foot candle is. Find out how Bradley came from a third grade Mr. Bundles in Annie Jr, through Disney pyrotechnics, all the way to Arizona Opera. Find out Bradley’s dream theatre projects and learn why spicy snakes would be Bradley’s nightmare! 


Season 3, Episode 3: Meet the Set Designer (Marinated in Research with a Sprinkle of Surprise)

Release Date: November 28, 2022

Join Cassie & Kathleen as they meet Jefferson Ridenour, the Set Designer for Ariadne auf Naxos. Learn what a Scenery Designer does and how they communicate their designs to the Scenic Shop. Find out how Jefferson came to Arizona Opera - it truly is a small opera world - and get a sneak peek into what a Set Designer does during a pandemic. Join us as we find out exactly how marinated in research Jefferson actually is and listen in to discover if he gives up the secret of the “Sprinkle of Surprise” in Ariadne auf Naxos.


Season 3, Episode 2: Meet the Director of Production (Opera, Oregon Wine, and NO Mushrooms!)

Release Date: October 24, 2022

Join Cassie & Kathleen as they talk with Arizona Opera’s new Director of Production, Clayton Rodney. Learn how Clayton made his way to Arizona all the way from Canada and why he's excited to be part of the Arizona Opera Team. Join us as we discover the ins and outs of the what it’s like to be a Director of Production, what Clayton is most excited for in our upcoming 2022/23 Season, and why all he needs for success is Oregon wine and NO mushrooms!


Season 3, Episode 1: Welcome Back with the General Director (The Anti-Celery Illuminati…the Anti-Cellerati?!?)

Release Date: September 26, 2022

Join Cassie & Kathleen as they talk with Arizona Opera’s President and General Director, Joseph Specter. Learn why Joe and his family love living in Phoenix; recap how he came to be the President and General Director for Arizona Opera, and join us as Joe gives us an exciting preview into the 2022/23 Arizona Opera season. Find out why Jiu-Jitsu will always be a part of Joe’s dream opera season and learn if there is an Anti-Celery Illuminati and if Joe is indeed a member.


Season 2, Episode 5: Meet the Director of Community Alliances & the Founder of VerveSimone (Squash?!  Well it is on lady!)

Release Date: February 28, 2022

Join Cassie & Kathleen as they meet Arizona Opera’s Director of Community Alliances, Courtney Clark, and Founder & CEO of VerveSimone, Teniqua Broughton.  Learn what the newly created position of Director of Community Alliance entails and how Courtney came to join the team.  Find out what VerveSimone is and how Teniqua’s company started working with Arizona Opera.  Discover how vital community engagement and outreach programs are, learn the winding path that brought both Courtney and Teniqua to Arizona Opera, and why squash and oatmeal won’t be part of their dinner with Oprah!


Season 2, Episode 4: Meet the Lighting Designer (Gels, Gobos and Rouge Elephants!)

Release Date: February 1, 2022

Join Cassie & Kathleen as they meet Greg Hirsch, Arizona Opera’s Director of Production and Resident Lighting Designer. Find out what a Director of Production actually does and learn how in the hubris of youth, Greg became a Lighting Designer by buying a book. Discover what gels and gobos are, learn Greg’s favorite gel color and find out what a rouge elephant has to do with opera!


Season 2, Episode 3: Meet the Costume Apprentices (Socks, Pockets, and Zippers)

Release Date: November 22, 2021

Join Cassie & Kathleen as they meet Cody Grasher, Tenaya Tidwell, and Kayla Zeimet - this season’s Costume Shop Apprentices. Learn the difference between a Journeyman apprentice and an Apprentice I. Find out how Kayla and Tenaya came to Arizona Opera and what they are looking forward to the most for this season. Join us as we talk fashion styles that should go and ones that we love and find out why socks, pockets, and zippers could be controversial.


Season 2, Episode 2: Meet the Education Teaching Artist (Okra...okra can go!)

Release Date: October 25, 2021

Join Cassie & Kathleen as they meet Dr. Miriam Schildkret, PN1. Find out what an Arizona Opera Teaching Artist does and learn how she came to fill such a vital and rewarding position in the Education Department. Join us as Miriam talks about the importance of both physical and mental health, while she shares stories of being saved from witches, collecting broken leaves and why okra can go!


Season 2, Episode 1: Welcome Back with the General Director (Drinking Kool-Aid Around the Campfire)

Release Date: September 27, 2021

Join Cassie & Kathleen as they talk with Arizona Opera’s President and General Director, Joseph Specter. Learn about the winding road that led Joe from Pee-wee football player, to aspiring rock-star, all the way to Arizona Opera.  Discover what a General Director actually does, get a peek behind the curtain, and learn why Joe and the Arizona Opera team might be sipping lattes and Kool-Aid around the proverbial campfire.


Season 1, Episode 8: Meet the Stage Manager (keeper of the Spike Tape)

Release Date: May 24, 2021

Join Cassie & Kathleen as they meet Keri Muir, Arizona Opera’s Production Stage Manager. Learn how Keri came to Arizona Opera and why the Stage Manager is such a vital and pivotal role in every theatrical production. Find out the difference between stage management tasks during rehearsals versus during performances, learn what spike tape is and discover why Stage Managers would have giant balls of it.


Season 1, Episode 7: Meet the Costume Designer (When Parachutes are Dresses)

Release Date: April 26, 2021

Join Cassie & Kathleen as they meet Alice Fredrickson, the Costume Designer for our upcoming The Copper Queen Film. Learn how Alice ended up being a costume designer for an opera company, get some insight into the design process, discover the differences between costume design for film and stage, and learn when a parachute might indeed be a dress!


Season 1, Episode 6: Meet the Props Supervisor (From Lipstick Tubes to Tables)

Release Date: March 26, 2021

Join Cassie & Kathleen as they meet Alanna Maniscalco, the Props Supervisor for Arizona Opera. Learn the difference between a prop and a costume prop, find out where Alanna worked before she joined Arizona Opera, and learn why a props person might have to take a light saber apart and then make it shoot confetti.


Season 1, Episode 5: Meet the Wig & Makeup Manager (Ketchup Bottles of Blood) 

Release Date: February 22, 2021

Join Cassie & Kathleen as they chat with Alita Lopez, Arizona Opera’s Wig & Makeup Manager. Learn how Alita came to Arizona Opera and what the Wig & Makeup Department do for each production, find out how much work actually goes into each and every wig onstage, learn what ventilating is and hear how ketchup bottles of blood can make all the difference to a show.


Season 1, Episode 4: Meet Painter/Dyer, Shelby Joiner (The Fairy Godmother of Fabric)

Release Date: December 29, 2020

Join Cassie & Kathleen as they chat with Shelby Joiner the First Hand and Painter/Dyer of Arizona Opera’s Costume Shop. Learn about Shelby’s journey from an Arizona Opera intern to a full-time staff member of the Costume Shop, find out how she works her magic with dyes and paints to create the beautiful pieces you’ve seen in Riders of the Purple Sage and Madame Butterfly, discover what exactly goes in to making new costumes look dirty or bloody, and find out what the heck a First Hand actually does.



Season 1, Episode 3: Meet the Studio Artists, Part I (Piano Robots)

Release Date: November 30, 2020

Join Cassie & Kathleen as they chat with two of the 2020/21 Marion Roose Pullin Studio Artists. Learn just how much the studio pianist does in a season, find out what a “pants role” is, discover why a good accompanist isn’t just a piano robot, and find out more about the inner workings of an opera’s rehearsal process.


Season 1, Episode 2: Meet the Scene shop (when set pieces fly)

Release Date: October 26, 2020

Join Cassie and Kathleen as they meet two of the members of the Arizona Opera Scenic Shop. Learn what a Technical Director actually is; what it means when set pieces "fly;" get insight into the magic of scenery changes during a performance; and learn who "tied down all those road boxes!"


Season 1, Episode 1: Meet the 2020/21 Arizona Opera Costume Apprentices (No Cheese for Karen)

Release Date: September 28, 2020

Join Cassie and Kathleen as they meet two of the 2020/21 Arizona Opera Costume Apprentices. Learn what an apprentice is, where they went to school, and why they want to be involved with Arizona Opera; get a “sneak peek” into some of the costume details for the upcoming The Copper Queen film; and learn if there is indeed, no cheese for Karen.


Season 1, Meet the Hosts!

Release Date: September 28, 2020

Meet Cassie Robel & Kathleen Trott as they introduce this podcast series. Learn if they are originally from Arizona and why they are hosting this podcast.



Arizona Opera is deeply grateful to our 2020/21 Reimagined Season Lead Digital Sponsors, Ron and Kay McDougall
Lead Digital Sponsorship of the Connection Lab was provided by Ron and Kay McDougall. Additional sponsorship was made possible, in part, by the Arizona Community Foundation and Manley Films.
To learn more about the programs that are part of Arizona Opera NextGen, please visit Arizona Opera’s NextGen programs are made possible through the support of: Karen Fruen, Roma Wittcoff, Jeannette J. Segel, Valentine Family Foundation, APS, and Jody Pelusi
Arizona Opera’s Education and Community Engagement programs are made possible, in part, thanks to the support of: Karen Fruen, The Molly Blank Fund, Dr. Rex Brewster, Invest in Kids Charitable Gift Fund, The Moreno Family Foundation, The Arizona Republic, Fillman Gorin Fund held at the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, Cardinals Charities, The City of Peoria, Desert Diamond Casino West Valley, Kiwanis of Litchfield, and a consortium of individual donors.