Bold. Brave. Brilliant.

Top 10 List- 2014/15 Season!

Josh Borths – September 18, 2014

I can’t believe the 2014-15 Season is already here. After almost 18 months of planning, we can’t wait to share these five wonderful pieces with Arizona audiences. From classic to contemporary operas, from traditional to conceptual productions, we have it all!

While I can honestly say I’m excited for every part of this season, I would be lying if there weren’t a few things that I’m looking forward to more than the rest. So, in the tradition of Buzzfeed (although if this was a Buzzfeed article it would be titled “10 Things that will Change your Life!!!!”)  and David Letterman, I have put together my Top 10 list for Arizona Opera’s 2014-2015 Season.

As a side note, once your done reading, let us know if you agree! Do you have your own Top 10 you’re willing to share? Let us know! Email me at or send us a Facebook message and we will add it to the list of things that make us happy this season.

Here we go!

10) Great Literature

Ever since the beginning of opera, composers and librettists have turned to literary masterpieces for inspiration. This season we have operas inspired by the works of Victor Hugo (Rigoletto is based on his play) and Pushkin (who wrote Eugene Onegin). This season offers me the perfect excuse to read the great novel in verse, Eugene Ongein, and finally offers me the impetus to finish at least one of the Victor Hugo novels I’ve started.

9) Dialogue

If you ask someone on the street, “What is opera?” they will generally say something along the lines of “It’s a sung play.” However, not every opera is sung-through. In fact, three of our operas this season include dialogue. I love seeing how spoken word can be transformed into arias and ensembles through the power of music. It is hard to do well, but when crafted correctly (as these pieces are) it feels like one complete, cohesive experience.

8) Low Notes

From Prince Gremin in Eugene Onegin to the assassin, Sparafucile, in Rigoletto to Sarastro in The Magic Flute, this season offers some classic low notes that thrill just as much as the high ones. I always get chills at the end of the first Sparafucile and Rigoletto exchange when Sparafucile exits on a low F. Cool stuff.

7) High Notes

At the other end of the spectrum, we have incredible high notes. From Gilda to the Queen of the Night, from Tonio’s high C’s to Marie’s fanfares, this season we are presenting some of the highest notes in the entire operatic canon. Prepare to be amazed.

6) Male Choruses

Between the courtiers in Rigoletto, the priests in The Magic Flute, and the zany soldiers in Daughter of the Regiment, this season really allows the men in our fantastic chorus to shine.

5) Divas

This season we are bringing to the stage a host of incredible star sopranos. I was fortunate to see Sarah Coburn as Gilda a few years ago and was lucky to see Corinne Winters this summer at Santa Fe Opera. I have not yet seen Susannah Biller but I hear she’s amazing! These three women will be delivering performances not to be missed. I can’t wait.

4) New Productions

New productions are expensive. It takes months to build a new set, new costumes, and sometimes years to find a fresh perspective on a classic from the canon. Many opera companies don’t present any new productions. This year, we are presenting two: Eugene Onegin and The Magic Flute. I cannot wait to see what new insights our production teams will be sharing through their fresh takes on these classic tales.

3) Mariachi Vargas

Mariachi Vargas has been in existence for over 100 years. They have helped shape mariachi—another storytelling, musical genre. Mariachi Vargas is the Metropolitan Opera of the mariachi world. It is this ensemble that will be here to perform Cruzar la Cara de la Luna—a piece that José “Pepe” Martínez, a member of Vargas, wrote. I’m pumped!

2) Studio Artists

Any conversation with an opera lover includes the following: “I saw {insert name of famous singer here} when he (or she) first performed {insert character name here}. I knew I witnessed something special. It was thrilling.” This year, we will be treated to many star turns by young singers, and I have a feeling that in a few years, we will all be able to brag that “We saw {insert Studio Artist name here} perform {insert character name here} at Arizona Opera. I got chills.”

1) Arizona Bold

I love opera. I love that opera is a live, theatrical and musical experience that is shared by everyone in the opera house. It doesn’t matter who you are. Everyone can be moved and inspired by live performances. You can’t Netflix the opera experience. That is why I’m so excited for the launch of Arizona Bold. We hope to bring audiences to the opera that have never seen opera, and we hope to offer works to lifelong opera lovers that they have never experienced. I know most arts organizations say it, but we truly mean it. We have something for everyone.