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New Works Festival

Headshot of composer Ricky Ian Gordon with Arizona Opera

Ricky Ian Gordon

Composer Intimate Apparel

Ricky Ian Gordon was born on May 15, 1956 in Oceanside, NY and raised on Long Island. After studying piano, composition, and acting, at Carnegie Mellon University, he settled in New York City, where he quickly emerged as a leading writer of vocal music that spans art song, opera, and musical theater. Mr. Gordon’s songs have been performed and or recorded by such internationally renowned singers as Renee Fleming, Dawn Upshaw, Nathan Gunn, Judy Collins, Kelli O’Hara, Audra MacDonald, Kristin Chenoweth, Nicole Cabell, the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Frederica Von Stade, Nadine Sierra, Andrea Marcovicci, Harolyn Blackwell, and Betty Buckley, among many others.

Headshot of librettist Lynn Nottage with Arizona Opera

Lynn Nottage

Librettist Intimate Apparel

Lynn Nottage is a playwright and a screenwriter. She is the first, and remains the only, woman to have won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama twice. Her plays have been produced widely in the United States and throughout the world.

Most recently, Nottage premiered MJ the Musical, directed by Christopher Wheeldon and featuring the music of Michael Jackson, at the Neil Simon Theater on Broadway, Clyde's directed by Kate Whoriskey at Second Stage Theater on Broadway and an opera adaptation of her play Intimate Apparel composed by Ricky Ian Gordon and directed by Bart Sher, commissioned by The Met/Lincoln Center Theater.

Her other work includes, Floyd's (retitled- Clyde's) (Guthrie Theater), the musical adaptation of Sue Monk Kidd's novel The Secret Life of Bees, with music by Duncan Sheik and lyrics by Susan Birkenhead (The Almeida Theatre/The Atlantic Theater), Mlima’s Tale (Public Theater), By The Way, Meet Vera Stark (Lilly Award, Drama Desk Nomination- Second Stage/Signature Theater), Ruined (Pulitzer Prize, OBIE, Lucille Lortel, New York Drama Critics’ Circle, Audelco, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Award- MTC/Goodman Theater); Intimate Apparel (American Theatre Critics and New York Drama Critics’ Circle Awards for Best Play Center Stage/SCR/ Roundabout Theater); Fabulation, or The Re-Education of Undine (OBIE Award - Playwrights Horizons/Signature Theater); Crumbs from the Table of Joy; Las Meninas; Mud, River, Stone; Por’knockers; and POOF!

Her play Sweat (Pulitzer Prize, Evening Standard Award, Obie Award, Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, Tony Nomination, Drama Desk Nomination) moved to Broadway after a sold-out run at The Public Theater. It premiered and was commissioned by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival American Revolutions History Cycle/Arena Stage. Inspired by her research on Sweat, Nottage developed This is Reading, a performance installation based on two years of interviews, at the Franklin Street, Reading Railroad Station in Reading, PA in July 2017.

She is the co-founder of the production company, Market Road Films, whose most recent projects include the. award winning documentary Takeover (The NY times, Op-doc) by Emma Francis Francis-Snyder, the Peabody nominated podcast Unfinished: Deep South (Stitcher) by Taylor Hom and Neil Shea, The Notorious Mr. Bout directed by Tony Gerber and Maxim Pozdorovkin (Premiere/Sundance 2014), First to Fall directed by Rachel Beth Anderson (Premiere/ IDFA, 2013) and Remote Control (Premiere/Busan 2013- New Currents Award). Market Road Films currently has a first look deal with SISTER. Over the years, she has developed original projects for Amazon, HBO, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, Showtime, This is That and Harpo. She was a writer and producer on the Netflix series She's Gotta Have It, directed by Spike Lee and a consulting producer on the third season of Dickinson (Apple +).

Nottage is the recipient of a MacArthur "Genius Grant" Fellowship, Steinberg "Mimi" Distinguished Playwright Award, PEN/Laura Pels Master Playwright Award, William Inge Festival Distinguished Playwright, TIME 100 (2019), Signature One Playwright, Merit and Literature Award from The Academy of Arts and Letters, Columbia University Provost Grant, Doris Duke Artist Award, The Joyce Foundation Commission Project & Grant, Madge Evans-Sidney Kingsley Award, Nelson A. Rockefeller Award for Creativity, The Dramatists Guild Hull-Warriner Award, the inaugural Horton Foote Prize, Helen Hayes Award, the Lee Reynolds Award, and the Jewish World Watch iWitness Award. Her other honors include the National Black Theatre Fest's August Wilson Playwriting Award, a Guggenheim Grant, Lucille Lortel Fellowship and Visiting Research Fellowship at Princeton University. She is a graduate of Brown University and the Yale School of Drama. She is also a Professor of Theatre Arts in the Theatre Department at Columbia School of the Arts.

Nottage is a Doris Duke Artist, a board member for BRIC Arts Media Bklyn, Donor Direct Action, Dramatist Play Service, Second Stage and the Dramatists Guild. She recently completed a three-year term as an Artist Trustee on the Board of the Sundance Institute. She is member of the The Dramatists Guild, WGAE, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is currently an artist-in-residence at the Park Avenue Armory.

Headshot of opera soprano singer Amber Monroe with Arizona Opera

Amber Monroe

Esther Intimate Apparel

A native of Youngstown, Ohio, Amber R. Monroe has been recognized as “a crystalline lyric soprano and a superb singing actress” (Seen and Heard-International). Her 2023/24 Season will include making company debuts with Chattanooga Symphony and Opera singing Mimì in La Bohème, as well as Opera Birmingham singing Nedda in Pagliacci. Monroe then returns to The Glimmerglass Festival summer 2024 as a Guest Artist, reprising the role of Nedda. On the concert stage, she will be a soloist in Vivaldi’s Gloria and Margaret Bonds' The Ballad of the Brown King with the Arlington Chorale, and in Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem with Lehigh University.

She is a recent alumna of the Cafritz Young Artists Program with Washington National Opera, where she made her Kennedy Center debut as Ines in Il trovatore, followed by Isabelle in Carlos Simon’s The Passion of Mary Cardwell Dawson, and Mimì in La Bohème. In summer of 2023, she joined Santa Fe Opera as an Apprentice Artist, covering the Second Wood Sprite in Rusalka.

An enthusiast of contemporary opera, Monroe originated the role of Clarissa in the world-premiere of Gregory Spears‘ Castor and Patience (Cincinnati Opera) and performed the title role in the Midwest premiere of Nkeiru Okoye’s Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed that Line to Freedom (Cleveland Opera Theater). She has also workshopped Blue by Jeanine Tesori (The Glimmerglass Festival), and The Hours by Kevin Puts, commissioned by The Metropolitan Opera.

A former artist at the Merola Opera Program, Monroe performed as Magda from La rondine in the Schwabacher Summer Concert, and Madame Lidoine from Dialogues des Carmélites in the Merola Grand Finale. As a young artist with the The Glimmerglass Festival, she performed as the Rooster/Jay in The Cunning Little Vixen, and covered the role of Anna Sørenson in Kevin Puts’ Silent Night. Additional performance credits include; Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni (Opera Columbus), Nedda in Pagliacci (El Paso Opera), Countess Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro (Kentucky Opera), and Clara in Porgy and Bess (Opera Western Reserve).

On the concert stage, she has been a featured soloist at the U.S. Naval Academy and the University of Maryland for Mahler’s Symphony No. 2. She was also the soprano soloist of Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with the Capital City Symphony. Other performances include Schubert’s Mass in G Major, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Stephen Hartke’s Symphony No. 4 with the Oberlin Orchestra, Ricky Ian Gordon’s and flowers pick themselves with the Oberlin Chamber Orchestra, as well as in a Lincoln Center performance of Roland Carter’s Hold Fast to Dreams with the Tuskegee University Golden Voice Concert Choir.

Monroe has recently been named a 2023 winner of the Sullivan Foundation Awards and George and Nora London Foundation Competition. She is a 2021 recipient of the Richard F. Gold Career Grant from The Shoshana Foundation. She has also been awarded and placed in competitions such as the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the Annapolis Opera Voice Competition, the Mildred Miller International Voice Competition with the Pittsburgh Festival Opera, and the Classical Singer Competition.

Monroe completed her Master of Music degree and Artist Diploma in Opera at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. With CCM Opera, she has sung the Governess (Turn of the Screw), and was scheduled to sing Erste Dame (The Magic Flute) until it's cancellation due to COVID-19.

She earned her Bachelor of Music in voice from Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Her work in Oberlin Opera Theater productions have ranged from the main stage to contemporary operas in non-traditional venues. She has performed the roles of Lady Billows (Albert Herring), the Old Lady (Michael Torke’s Strawberry Fields), and Luigia (Viva la Mamma).

Headshot of opera baritone singer Yazid Gray with Arizona Opera

Yazid Gray

George Intimate Apparel

Yazid Gray has been described as "a vocal chameleon" (Seen and Heard International) with "a baritone voice of fine quality and warmth" (onStage Pittsburgh). In 2022/23, Gray debuted with Intermountain Opera Bozeman as Homecoming Soldier in The Falling and the Rising, Madison Opera as Sam in Trouble in Tahiti, and the New Mexico Philharmonic in Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. In summer of 2023, Gray joined the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis singing the role of Luddud, covering Zodzetrick, Simon, and Parson Alltalk in Treemonisha, and covering Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte. He then joined Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra as a soloist singing Letters from Lincoln by Michael Daugherty. In the 2023/24 Season, Gray returns to Madison Opera as Ophémon in Joseph Bologne's The Anonymous Lover. He then makes his Arizona Opera debut at Mercutio in Roméo & Juliette.

Gray recently finished a summer with The Glimmerglass Festival as a young artist where he sang Le Dancaire in Carmen, Baloo in the World Premiere of The Jungle Book (Sankaram/Rourke), and covered the role of Cedric/Matteo in the World Premiere of Tenor Overboard (Rossini/Ludwig). He is a former Resident Artist with Pittsburgh Opera where he performed The Woodcutter/The Outlaw in the World Premiere of In a Grove (Cerrone/Fleischmann), Le Dancaire in Carmen, Policeman #3 in Blue, and Second Priest in The Magic Flute in the 2021/22 Season.

In the summer of 2021, Gray performed with Chautauqua Opera as an apprentice artist where he appeared as the baritone soloist in As the Così Crumbles: A Company Developed Piece. In Pittsburgh Opera's 2020/21 Season he performed in all four main stage productions which included Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, Soldier in David T. Little’s Soldier Songs, Dizzy Gillespie in Charlie Parker’s Yardbird, and Athamas in Semele. During the summer of 2020, Gray participated as a featured young artist in Chautauqua Opera's digital season and in 2019, he made his debut with the company singing Fiorello in The Barber of Seville.

In the 2018/19 Season, Gray sang the role of Bello in La fanciulla del West with Maryland Lyric Opera. He then went on to join Opera Santa Barbara as a member of their Chrisman Studio Artist program, where he performed the roles of Schaunard in La Bohème, Zaretski in Eugene Onegin, Le Podestat in Le docteur Miracle, and Thomas Putnam in The Crucible.

Gray made his professional debut in the summer of 2018 as Charlie in Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers with Opera Maine. Also comfortable on the musical theater stage, Gray has performed roles such as Coalhouse Walker Jr. in Ragtime, Jim Conley in Parade, Hunter Bell in [title of show], and Al in The Most Happy Fella.

Yazid received his Bachelor of Music in Voice from DePauw University in Greencastle, IN and is a graduate of University of Michigan - School of Music where he received his Master of Music in Voice. His academic credits include Oliver Jordan in the Michigan premiere of Dinner at Eight (Bolcolm/Campbell), Mercutio in Roméo & Juliette, and Demetrius in A Midsummer’s Night Dream.

Headshot of composer Héctor Armienta with Arizona Opera

Héctor Armienta

Composer Zorro

Héctor Armienta, a nationally recognized composer, focuses on creating work that explores the Mexican and Mexican-American cultural experience. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, he is one of the few Chicano opera composers to have had his work performed nationally and internationally. His awards and commissions include those from Meet the Composer, the NEA, the MapFund, Forth Worth Opera, the Pacific Symphony, Opera Southwest, Oakland East Bay Symphony, and others. His work for orchestra, theater, and opera has received support from six NEA grants in artistic excellence. Most recently, he was awarded a 2022 CCSRE Arts Mellon Fellowship at Stanford University and a 2021 Map Fund award.

Notable projects included the opera Bless Me Ultima (based on Rudolfo Anaya's novel), the opera Zorro, and the animated opera film - Mi Camino. Upcoming projects include La Muerte (Part III of Armienta's opera trilogy Aguas Ancestrales) and a new immersive VR opera project - Campesinos.

​Armienta is also the founder and director of Ópera Cultura, whose mission is to explore music theater and opera through a cross-cultural lens. He holds a BM degree in composition from California Institute of the Arts and an MM degree in composition from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He also sits on the board of Opera America.

Headshot of opera tenor singer Rafael Moras with Arizona Opera

Rafael Moras

Diego de La Vega Zorro

Hailed for his ability to communicate “…romance and heartbreak with his soaring tenor tones,” by Broadway World and “..heroic bravado…”, “…acting chops…”, and “…irresistible mix of Italianate and Latin passion…” by Musical America Worldwide, Opera News, and Classical Voice North America respectively, tenor Rafael Moras is a rising star of the opera and orchestral pops worlds whose voice, stage presence, and ability to speak off-the-cuff with an audience continues to connect in opera houses and intimate concert settings around the world.

A graduate of LA Opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program and The Santa Fe Opera’s Apprentice Program for Singers, Moras recently made his Seattle Opera debut as Tariq in the critically-acclaimed world premiere A Thousand Splendid Suns, and made his Minnesota Opera debut as Don José in Carmen, the directorial debut of acclaimed mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, in Spring of 2022. He recently made his Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra debut as a soloist in their annual Cincinnati Pops Holiday Pops concert, will make his San Antonio Mastersingers debut as a featured soloist in their Theatrical Serenade, and will return to Arizona Opera as the titular Zorro this Spring in their inaugural New Works Festival.

Moras’s 2022/23 included debuts with Annapolis Opera as Rodolfo in La Bohème, continued performances around the globe with Grammy Award-winning jazz trumpeter Chris Botti, returns to the Houston Grand Opera stage for a reprise of Father Matías in El Milagro del Recuerdo and as Zweite Jude in Salome, a recital with Bethany Self in support of The Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition’s Houston District, and a return to the Houston Symphony as the featured vocal soloist in Fiesta Sinfónica.

Moras has performed as a featured soloist with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony, LA Philharmonic, Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, San Antonio Symphony, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Fort Worth Opera, Austin Opera, Aspen Music Festival, the San Antonio Mastersingers (forthcoming), and as a featured opera singer soloist in the Chris Botti in Concert worldwide tour. Other highlights include debuts with Houston Grand Opera and Arizona Opera as Father Matías in the world premiere of El Milagro del Recuerdo, Utah Opera and Holy City Arts & Lyric Opera as Alfredo in La Traviata, and Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera as the Duke in Rigoletto. In 2016, Rafael was heard as Rodolfo in La Bohème at the Aspen Music Festival. Of his performance, Opera News said “[Rafael Moras] escaped all of the tempting tenorial clichés to create a fully fleshed-out characterization. His singing remained warm and ingratiating, from low note to high, from first scene to last.” He is a 2017 and 2018 recipient of The Santa Fe Opera's Richard Tucker Fund Award, a 2014 Metropolitan Opera Eric and Dominique Laffont Competition Grand Finalist, 2014 Operalia Quarter Finalist, and a 2013 and 2014 Eleanor McCollum Vocal Competition Finalist.

Prior to cancellations in the wake of COVID-19, Moras’s 2020/21 Season was to include a company debut with Arizona Opera as Father Matías in El Milagro del Recuerdo (rescheduled for 2021), a house debut with Opera Philadelphia as Malcom in Macbeth, continued touring around the world as a soloist in Grammy Award-winner Chris Botti's Chris Botti in Concert, and a return to the Houston Symphony as the Tenor I Soloist in Beethoven's Choral Fantasy under the leadership of Fabien Gabel for "Beethoven + López".

Moras 2019/20 Season featured company debuts with Houston Grand Opera as Father Matías in the world premiere of El Milagro del Recuerdo, with Utah Opera as Alfredo in La Traviata, and with Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera as the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto. In February 2020, Moras was featured in recital with pianist Rachel Chao in his native San Antonio, Texas, as part of the Tuesday Musical Club's 2019/20 Artist Series.

2018/19 included a company debut with Dallas Opera as Remendado in Carmen, Nemorino from The Elixir of Love in Santa Fe Opera's Apprentice Scene Showcase, YoungArts' "Pop of Culture with Plácido Domingo", Lyric Opera of Chicago - Lyric Unlimited's "Caribe Clásico," and a return to Santa Fe Opera for "The Santa Fe Opera Winter Concert Tour".

In 2016, Moras was heard as Rodolfo in La Bohème at the Aspen Music Festival. Of his performance, Opera News said “[Rafael Moras] escaped all of the tempting tenorial clichés to create a fully fleshed-out characterization. His singing remained warm and ingratiating, from low note to high, from first scene to last.”

Other past highlights include Flavio in LA Opera’s Norma, Pong in Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra's Turandot under Gustavo Dudamel, Pedrillo in Houston Symphony’s Die Entführung aus rem Serail, and the tenor soloist in LA Phil’s Beethoven Choral Fantasia under Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla and in LA Opera's Petite messe solennelle under Plácido Domingo.

Moras obtained his Bachelor of Music Degree at The University of Texas at San Antonio and a Masters in Vocal Performance at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music. Rafael was a featured singer in the 2010 HBO documentary "Masterclass with Plácido Domingo," was part of the inaugural class of the Young Artist Vocal Academy with Houston Grand Opera and is a 2006 YoungArts Silver Medal Award Winner in Classical Voice and 2006 United States Presidential Scholar in the Arts.

Headshot of opera soprano singer Maria Brea with Arizona Opera

Maria Brea

Ana Maria Soza Zorro

Maria Brea, soprano, is one of Venezuela's most acclaimed opera singers. Praised for being a "very classy Venezuelan soprano" by The Arts Desk, ”versatile soprano” by Tampa Bay and “luxurious soprano" by Opera Wire and as Micaëla; “her lush tones and thrilling diminuendos were warmly received” by The Brooklyn Reporter. Brea’s signature roles include: Gilda in Verdi's Rigoletto, Micaëla in Bizet’s Carmen, Nedda in Leoncavallo's Pagliacci, Musetta in Puccini's La Bohème, Agrippina by Handel, Donna Anna in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Elena in Giménez's El Barbero de Sevilla where she was awarded Best Musical Actress given by the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors. Brea is a fine recitalist and promoter of art song as well as an avid Oratorio singer. She has performed throughout the world, from Cardiff to Paris, stunning her audiences with her exciting renditions, sparkling clarity and dazzling range.

​Brea starts her 2023/24 Season reprising one of her most performed roles, Micaëla in Bizet's Carmen at the Hogfish Festival in Maine with a star rising cast. In the fall of 2023 she will be performing the role of Clomiri in Handel's adaptation of Imeneo with Opera Essentia in New York City with a baroque specialized 415 ensemble, she also makes her debut with Arizona Opera in the role of Ana Maria in Zorro. She returns to the University of Notre Dame to sing a recital accompanied by Israeli pianist Dror Baitel. In December 2023, Brea makes her awaited debut with the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra singing Handel's Messiah, an adaptation in Spanish under the baton of Maestro Tito Muñoz. In January 2024 you will hear her with Vero Beach Opera in her return to the role of Donna Anna with a stellar cast. Brea makes her Canadian debut performing Odaline Martinez: Four Afro-Cuban poems with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra.

In the 2022/23 Season, Brea represented Venezuela in the prestigious Operalia. She started the season singing the role of Lucette in L'arbre Enchanté with the Hogfish Music Festival under the baton of the Ryan McAdams. She returned to the American Spirtual Ensemble for their New Orleans Opera recital where she was a distinguished soloist under the baton of Maestro Everett McCorvey. Additionally, Brea returned in December 2022 to the world-renowned Carnegie Hall to make her debut singing Handel's Messiah with the prestigious Oratorio Society of New York under the baton of Kent Tritle. She made a reprise of Messiah and her debut with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in December 2022. In January 2023, Brea made debut with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra singing her very first Beethoven Symphony No. 9 under the masterful leadership of Maestro Jose Luis Gomez. Brea made her debut with the Amadeus Ensemble doing an All Mozart concert. She did her Mahler Symphony No. 2 debut with the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra as a last minute schedule addition, ten days later she made her Boston debut with Boston Philharmonic singing Mahler Symphony No. 2 at Symphony Hall with the legendary conductor Benjamin Zander. Brea made her Schubert Club's debut in Saint Paul, Minnesota along with the Jasper Quartet in a premiere of award winning Venezuelan composer Reinaldo Moya; In addition, she was headlining at the Schubert Club's 140th season which also featured legendary mezzo-soprano Anne Sophie von Otter. Brea makes her debut at The Metropolitan Opera in their American Ballet production of Like Water for Chocolate in June 2023.

In 2021/22 Season, Brea treated her audiences with her performance of Norina in Donizetti's Don Pasquale with The Barn Opera and was praised for "a voice that mixes brilliance and richness." She makes a firey debut at the world famous Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall with the stunning sound of the Cecilia Chorus of New York singing the Soprano Solo in Orff's Carmina Burana under the baton of Maestro Mark Shapiro.

Brea, most recently achieved First Place the Metropolitan Opera District of Philadelphia 2022. She was a Finalist of the Paris Opera Competition where she sang at the world-renowned Palais Garnier in 2022. With a single day’s notice, she was asked to performed as soloist and delivered two incredible performances of Franz Haydn's Creation Oratorio accompanied by The Richmond Symphony Orchestra conducted by Maestra Erin Freeman.

Brea stunned audiences in her performance of Gilda in Rigoletto in Pittsburgh under the baton of Maestra Maria Sensi Sellner at Resonance works in which OnStage Pittsburgh said "Her voice is gloriously luxurious". This summer 2022, Brea covers the role of Margaret Herschel in Southern Crossings, a work by Syrian award winner composer Zaid Jabri. She recently performed at the World Renown BBC Cardiff competition in the UK June 2021.

Brea startled her audience as Nedda in the New Camerata Opera production of Cav+Pag this September 2021 which was celebrated by Opera News, who said, “Maria Brea was an absolute delight as Nedda, …demonstrating a natural theatrical instinct. She also has a lovely voice.” She appeared in several recitals in NYC in 2021 as well as recorded with composers; Felix Jarrar and Rachel DeVore Fogary.

Brea’s wonderful performance in December 2020 as Olga in Giordano's Fedora with Teatro Grattacielo, left her audiences absolutely excited. She placed with a 6th prize in the Vinas competition and a Special “Zarzuela” prize for the best “Zarzuela” singer and was of only six winners who sang in the orchestra concert for the winners at Teatro Liceu de Barcelona. In 2020 Maria Brea was to performe as Frasquita in Carmen at Rose Theater at the world-renowed Lincoln Center with MasterVoices - COVID-19 cancellation.

In 2019, Brea earned the title “Eva and Stern Fellow” at Songfest and made her debut accompanied by The Queens Symphony Orchestra in their Night at the Opera concert series. She earned second prize in the Opera Cultura Vocal Competition 2019 and an “Encouragement Award” from the Gerda Lissner Song/Lieder Competition.

Brea stunned audiences performing the title role in Maestro Anton Coppola's Lady Swanwhite, a world premiere. In winter 2018, she sang the role of Raquel in the world premiere of the opera El Rey Nacio in New York City and earned a standing ovation in her debut as Musetta in La Bohème performing with the New York Concert Opera.

Brea performed in a recital as part of the St. Hugh Steinway series in Miami, Florida. She performed the role of Nannetta in Verdi’s Falstaff in Martina Arroyo's Prelude to Performance. She performed with the West Bay Opera in her role of Micaëla in Bizet’s Carmen in Spring 2018.

Brea’s father, a music teacher and Cuatro player, taught her Venezuelan folk music from an early age. Maria is a co-founder of the instagram platform Latina Women in Opera and a Spanish Diction expert at Maria holds a Bachelor Degree in Music with The Manhattan School of Music and a Masters Degree in Music at the World Renowned Juilliard School.

Headshot of opera baritone singer Armando Contreras with Arizona Opera

Armando Contreras

Moncada & Zazueta Zorro

Praised for “the easy caramel syrup of his voice” (Opera Today), Mexican-American baritone Armando Contreras is quickly becoming a standout in the world of opera. In 2023, Contreras began the year singing the role of Cesar Chavez in the workshop of Dolores with West Edge Opera. He later performed his fifth Dandini in Kentucky Opera’s production of La cenerentola. He returned to Salt Marsh Opera for the third time, performing the role of Papageno in their production of The Magic Flute. This summer, Armando performed the leading role of Lt. Gonzalez in the stage premiere of Aleksandra Vrebalov and Debroah Breevort’s The Knock. Upcoming engagements include Older Thompson in Glory Denied with Art Song Colorado. Baritone soloist with Colorado Chamber Orchestra, Opera Fort Collins and Salt Marsh Opera. In the 2021/22 Season, Contreras was a part of the world premiere of Aleksandra Vrebalov and Deborah Breevort’s The Knock, singing the lead role of Lt. Roberto Gonzales with The Glimmerglass Festival. Other highlights of his 2021/22 Season included making his debut with Salt Marsh Opera as Moralès in Carmen, reprising the role of Diego Rivera in Frida and the Bravest Girl in the World with Central City Opera, joining Opera Steamboat in The Three Feathers as The King/Rat, making his Denver Philharmonic debut in The Elixir of Love as Belcore and singing the role of Dandini in La cenerentola with Tri-Cities Opera, Syracuse Opera and Salt Marsh Opera. In the 2020/21 Season, Contreras was seen as Ernesto in the US premiere of Bizet’s Don Procopio with Pacific Opera Project, Il Conte in The Marriage of Figaro and Marcello in La Bohème with Boulder Opera, and Diego Rivera in Frida and the Bravest Girl in the World with Opera Steamboat. In the summer of 2021, he covered the role of Papageno in Mozart’s The Magic Flute with The Glimmerglass Festival. Equally comfortable in concert repertoire, he has performed as the bass soloist in Handel’s Messiah with the Missouri Oratorio Society and Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Kansas City Ballet. He also appeared as Papageno in a concert featuring operatic selections by Mozart with The Cleveland Orchestra, a concert he will again perform with the Colorado Symphony in 2022.

Contreras has had extensive training including at The Glimmerglass Festival as a Young Artist, Des Moines Metro Opera as an Apprentice Artist, Lyric Opera of Kansas City as a Young Artist and Central City as a Studio Artist.

Accolades from the vocal competition circuit include Contreras receiving the Top Prize after completion of the Central City Young Artist Program, being named a finalist in the 2020 Kyrenia Opera Vocal Competition and participating in the 2019 Dorothy Lincoln Smith Voice Competition where he was the Regional Winner.

A strong proponent of education, Contreras holds a Bachelor’s degree in Voice Performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music and a Master’s degree in the same major from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Headshot of opera mezzo-soprano singer Stephanie Sánchez with Arizona Opera

Stephanie Sánchez

Carlotta de Obragón Zorro

Stephanie Sánchez has been praised by Opera News for her “polished, Italianate mezzo” and by ReviewSTL for her “exquisite singing.”

Sánchez opens her 2023/24 Season in her debut with Kentucky Opera performing the role of the Witch in Hansel and Gretel. She also makes debuts with the Phoenix Symphony, where she will sing as a soloist in Handel’s Mesías [Spanish Messiah], Nettie Fowler in Carousel with Intermountain Opera Bozeman, and with Opera Omaha in the role of Frida Kahlo in Gabriela Lena Frank’s El ultimo sueño de Frida y Diego. She returns to Arizona Opera to reprise the role of Carlotta de Obragón in abbreviated performances of Zorro for the company’s New Works Festival.

Sánchez made several notable house debuts in the 2022/23 Season, including as Third Spirit in The Magic Flute at Ravinia under the baton of Marin Alsop; as Chief Officer’s Wife in The Knock with Cincinnati Opera, and as Passenger #3 and Chief’s Daughter #2 in the World Premiere of Proximity: Four Portraits at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

As a resident principal artist with Opera San José for two seasons, she performed the roles of Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus, Hansel in Hansel and Gretel, and Azucena in Il Trovatore. She returned to perform the role of Mercedes while covering the title role in Carmen in 2022. She was selected as a Marion Roose Pullin Studio Artist with Arizona Opera where she sang the roles of Persephone in Hercules vs. Vampires, Paquette in Candide, Berta in The Barber of Seville, and Flosshilde in Das Rheingold, and returned to the company to cover the title role in Maria de Buenos Aires and sing Baroness Nica in Charlie Parker’s Yardbird.

Sánchez counts among her notable engagements singing the role of Ines while covering Azucena in Francesca Zambello’s 90-minute adaptation of Il Trovatore at The Glimmerglass Festival; and singing the roles of Carlotta in Zorro with Opera Southwest, Abuela in En mis palabras at Atlanta Opera, Maddalena in Rigoletto and Olga in Eugene Onegin with Intermountain Opera Bozeman, and Dryade in Ariadne auf Naxos with Arizona Opera. She also has been seen in roles with Brava Opera Theater, St. Petersburg Opera, Teatro Nuovo, Sarasota Opera, and Opera Maine. With Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Sánchez performed the role of Third Lady in The Magic Flute, and as a Digital Studio Artist in 2020 played Ruth in Pirates of Penzance, for which KDHX cited her “impressive combination of vocal power and comic flair.”

Sánchez has been the recipient of several prizes, including the “Audience Choice Award” at the 2021 Jensen Foundation Competition. She was the recipient of the 2018 Igor Gorin Memorial Award, took first place in the Young Texas Artist Music Competition and second place in Opera Connecticut’s Opera Idol Competition, was a finalist in the Brava Opera Theater Competition, and has received grants from the Anna Sosenko Assist Trust and the Hispanic Scholarship Association.

Born and raised in Las Cruces, New Mexico, Sánchez received her Artist Diploma from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University and her master’s degree in vocal performance from New Mexico State University.

Headshot of Katherine Kozack, Head of Music, Chorus Master, and Principal Coach of the Marion Roose Pullin Opera Studio.

Katherine Kozak


Pianist, coach and chorus director Katherine Kozak has enjoyed affiliations with numerous companies throughout the United States. Her most long-standing relationship is with The Glimmerglass Festival, where she is the current Chorus Director, and in 2023 recently completed her 12th summer season. Katherine’s work with the chorus can be heard on Château du Versailles Spectacles 2021 CD/DVD release of The Ghosts of Versailles, for which she also performed on celesta and piano.

A deft and vivacious chorus master, Katherine notably garnered much acclaim with the Florida Grand Opera Chorus, with whom, up until the pandemic, she prepared approximately 20 productions. Under her direction, they were critiqued as “astutely balanced and exuberant”, “[having sung] with power and majesty”, “outstanding” and “vocally flawless”.

Katherine has a repertoire of over 80 complete operatic and musical theatre scores, and has operated in nearly every music staff role. She has functioned as head coach, rehearsal pianist, recitalist, supertitle caller, recitative accompanist, assistant conductor and administrator, and this wide range of abilities has brought her to The Dallas Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Santa Fe Opera, The Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Opera Colorado, and Central City Opera, among others. Notable conductors she has assisted include Richard Bonynge, Joseph Colaneri, John Demain and George Manahan.

In addition to her involvement in highly-regarded Young Artist programs, she has also helped develop singers at the university level. Appointments have included Associate Coach at The Juilliard School, and Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Miami (FL).

Katherine holds the Master of Music in Vocal Coaching and Accompanying from the University of Illinois, where she was a student of John Wustman. She has enjoyed collaborating with singers since the young age of 11, when she began accompanying and touring with the Singing Angels, based in her hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.

Headshot of pianist Kihwa Kim with Arizona Opera

Kihwa Kim


Kihwa Kim is a versatile collaborative pianist who is well-versed in the areas of vocal and instrumental music. Prior to joining the Marion Roose Pullin Arizona Opera Studio, Kim served on the faculty of Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA. Kim has built a professional career as an opera/vocal coach, working with several opera companies including Dayton Opera, First Coast Opera, Chonnam National University (Gwangju, South Korea), Knoxville Opera, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, and Kangsookja Opera Line (Gwangju, South Korea).

Kim is an alumnus of the Music Academy of the West, where she received the Vocal Piano Fellowship Award (2017, 2018) and the Opera NEO (2019). Upon finishing her Opera NEO Apprentice Pianist program, she has been invited by the company to participate as a member of the music staff since 2020.

Kim has also played in a number of master classes given by Warren Jones, Graham Johnson, James Conlon, Martin Katz, Marilyn Horne, Dawn Upshaw, and Simon Keenlyside.

Along with her experience as an opera/vocal coach, Kim held the position of orchestra pianist at City of Mokpo Symphony Orchestra in South Korea (2007-2009) and staff pianist at Northern Kentucky University (2014-2016).

Kim completed her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Collaborative Piano at the University of Texas at Austin, Butler School of Music with Colette Valentine and Tamara Sanikidze. Kim also received her Artist Diploma in Opera Coaching and a Master of Music degree in Collaborative Piano from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where she studied with Marie-France Lefebvre and Kenneth Griffiths. Before her studies in the United States, Kim earned her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in Piano Performance at the Chonnam National University with Hyunok Moon, where she was appointed the Honorary Chancellor’s Award as the top graduate of the College of Arts.

Haley Stamats

Haley Stamats

Stage Director

Haley Stamats is an opera and theater director based in the US. She enjoys directing new works, both conventional and experimental, as well as classical repertoire with numerous opera companies in the US and England.

Currently, she is working on the opera for feature film, The Copper Queen, which is a new work piece commissioned by Arizona Opera. She will serve as the script supervisor and 2nd Unit Film Director.

Her 2020/21 Season started with her residency at Arizona Opera with the Marion Roose Pullin Opera Studio as their first Resident Assistant Director. As a part of Arizona Opera’s reimagined season, she produced livestreams and recorded concerts with Manley Films.

Her 2019/20 Season began at Virginia Opera as the assistant director for their back-to-back productions of Tosca and Il Postino. She debuted at Resonance Works / Pittsburgh directing their annual Amahl and the Night Visitors as well as remounting Il Postino at Opera Southwest at the end of 2019. She returned to Virginia Opera to assistant direct their Aida and planned to make her directing debut with Scalia/Ginsburg but both productions were postponed due to COVID-19. In the summer, she planned on assistant directing Don Giovanni at The Glimmerglass Festival but the production was also postponed. Instead, she participated in their virtual YAP program.

Her 2018/19 Season began with directing two new work pieces, Between Constallations and Rain, as a part of the Mosiac Opera Showcase at Grimborn Opera Festival in London. She then returned to Virginia Opera to assistant direct their production of Don Giovanni. In 2019, she assistant directed Eugene Onegin at Opera Santa Barbara and ended her season making her directorial debut at Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre with their world premiere of The Grant Wood Opera: Strokes of Genius.

She holds a B.A. in Music and Public Relations from Simpson College.

Photo of video designer Chris Ignacio with Arizona Opera

Chris Ignacio

Video Designer Intimate Apparel

Chris Ignacio is a puppeteer, producer, and educator currently finishing an MFA in Theater/Interdisciplinary Digital Media from Arizona State University. He recently debuted at The Metropolitan Opera as a puppeteer in Florencia En El Amazonas, directed by Mary Zimmerman. He has worked as a puppeteer in New York since 2012, mainly at La MaMa Experimental Theater in the East Village, and is now approaching puppetry through the lens of new and emerging media. In Phoenix, he has worked on Media Designs for Ballet Arizona, Arizona Opera and Childsplay Theater.

Photo of video designer Doster Chastain with Arizona Opera

Doster Chastain

Video Designer Zorro

Doster Chastain is a projection/experience designer, who adores exploring the unknown through his art. He is currently seeking his MFA in interdisciplinary digital media, as a first year graduate student at Arizona State University. Since moving to Arizona, some of his credits include: media designer for ASU’s production of Eva Luna (Fall 2024), assistant media designer to Jake Pinholster, in ASU’s production of Anthropocene, and recipient of the Industry’s Choice award in LDI (Live Design International) 2024’s Battle of the Busk event.

Headshot of Production Manager and Lighting Supervisor Bradley Taylor with Arizona Opera

Bradley Taylor

Festival Lighting Designer

Bradley Taylor is currently in his second season as the Production Manager and Lighting Supervisor at Arizona Opera. He began serving as the Assistant Lighting Designer for Arizona Opera during the 2021/22 Season. Taylor has worked in many different roles in the lighting industry and was a member of the 2019 lighting design bench at the Walt Disney World Resort, he has also served as the Programmer for various events and performances. Future engagements include Ariadne auf Naxos, Tosco, The Sound of Music, and The Magic Flute for Arizona Opera.