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Arizona Opera’s 2018/19 Season Casting

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Announcing a talented cast for a vibrant season

Phoenix, AZ (March 5, 2018) – Following the announcement of its exciting 2018/19 Season this past fall, Arizona Opera declares that casting for next year is now complete. Artists for the company’s season will take on roles in classic operas, as well as roles in more intimate works that are both adventurous and theatrical, aimed to inspire curiosity among audiences new to the art form.

The company will open the season with its Arizona Opera RED Series in Phoenix on Friday, September 28, and in Tucson on Saturday, October 6, with Astor Piazzolla’s tango opera, Maria de Buenos Aires. To accompany the opening performances at both The Herberger Theater and Temple of Music and Art, Arizona Opera will host a signature “RED” event to kick off its season. In early November, The Company will continue its new RED Series with Daniel Schnyder’s jazz-influenced masterpiece, Charlie Parker’s Yardbird.

Following Arizona Opera RED will be the company’s Main Stage series, which begins January 25, 2019 in Phoenix at Symphony and February 2 at Tucson Music Hall, will feature three operatic masterworks including Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata, Kevin Puts’ Silent Night, and The Marriage of Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

President and General Director, Joseph Specter, comments: “This is a thrilling season for us, as Arizona Opera deepens our commitment to presenting new and exciting opera, alongside beloved operas from the traditional cannon, all of which will feature international-caliber casts in compelling productions. Our new Arizona Opera RED Series will be seen in more intimate venues—the Herberger Theater in Phoenix and The Temple of Music and Art in Tucson—opening up powerful and vibrant new aural and visual realities, outside of our traditional larger venues.” Specter continued, “We are excited to once again be welcoming a group of extraordinary performers to our stages, from a Metropolitan Opera National Competition winner who has called Arizona her home, to a winner of the prestigious BBC PROMS.”


2018/19 Arizona Opera RED Artists

The 2018/19 Season will open on September 28-30 in Phoenix and on October 6 and 7 in Tucson, with the grand master of tango writing, Astor Piazzolla, and his only operatic piece, Maria de Buenos Aires.  Known as the “fiery soprano,” Catalina Cuervo will portray Maria, bringing her passion and mastery to the stage where she has performed this role more times than any other opera singer in the title role of Piazzolla’s work. John de los Santos returns to Arizona Opera as Stage Director in a capacity that differs greatly from his comedic production of The Daughter of the Regiment. Here, de los Santos directs a stage full of passion and grit that only an Argentine tango can bring.

From November 9-11 in Phoenix and November 17 and 18 in Tucson, Arizona Opera’s own Joshua Borths will direct Charlie Parker’s Yardbird.  Set in the famous “Birdland” jazz club, this operatic journey delves into the personal demons of the great American saxophonist. Performing Parker, Joshua Stewart, who made his Madison Opera debut in this role, has quickly made a name for himself in the world of opera without losing touch with this jazz roots, and Martin Bakari, who continues to distinguish himself as a dynamic artist in a wide array of musical and theatrical genres. Having originally opened at the Perelman Theater in Philadelphia, this new work by Swiss composer Daniel Schnyder, with a libretto by poet/playwright Bridgette A. Wimberly, won praise when performed at Harlem’s iconic Apollo Theater.

2018/19 Arizona Opera Main Stage Artists

Beginning in 2019, La Traviata will grace the stage. Taking on the role of Violetta is Arizona’s own Vanessa Vasquez, described as having “a truly ‘mesmerizing voice’ that knows no bounds,” Sara Gartland, who is returning to the Arizona Opera’s stage, has performed this same role with Utah Opera. In the role of Alfredo is former San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow Daniel Montenegro, recognized for his flexible and distinctive voice, has sung in a number of prestigious roles including The Flying Dutchman with both Portland and Arizona Operas’ and David Blalock, widely known for his beautiful lyric voice and widely ranging repertoire. The production will be conducted by Timothy Myers, who brings a wealth of experience given his work on premieres at Houston Grand Opera, Washington National Opera, and Forth Worth Opera.


Taking center stage on March 1, as part of Arizona Opera’s “Modern Masterworks Series” generously sponsored by Marlu Allan and Scott Stallard, is the Pulitzer-Prize winning Silent Night. With music by Kevin Puts and a libretto by Mark Campbell, this modern masterpiece recants the Christmas Eve truce of 1914, where 100,000 soldiers set aside their weapons to share a moment of common humanity during the throws of war. Since its world premiere at the Ordway Theater in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Silent Night is Put’s first opera, and one where he truly discovered his power and self-assurance in the medium. The conductor of last year’s celebrated production of Riders of the Purple Sage, the critically-acclaimed Joseph Mechavich, returns to Arizona Opera’s stage, bringing his exceptional artistry and infectious energy to this moving performance.  Additionally, former Marion Roose Pullin Opera Studio Artist, Joseph Lattanzi, is back, bringing his robust vocalism to the role of Lt. Audebert.

Closing the season is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s classic, The Marriage of Figaro. In the role of Countess Almaviva is Leah Crocetto, described by The New York Times as possessing an “agile coloratura technique and a feeling for the Italianate style… with warmth, full penetrating sound and tenderness.” Winner of BBC PROMS, and recognized as an artist of “dramatic presence and versatility (The Washington Post), Trinidadian soprano Jeanine De Bique brings wit and charm to the role of Susanna; and the young, yet seasoned baritone, Zachary Nelson, praised for his rich powerful baritone, will assume the role of Count Almaviva.


2018/19 Marion Roose Pullin Studio Artists

In addition to performances, Arizona Opera is excited to introduce its Marion Roose Pullin Studio Artists for the 2018/19 Season: Soprano Cadie Jordan is a native to Baton Rouge, Louisiana and pursuing a Master’s degree in Vocal Performance at Indiana University in the studio of Heidi Grant Murphy; soprano Kaitlyn Johnson is a graduate student majoring in vocal performance and associate instructor of voice at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music; originally from Vermont, mezzo-soprano Katherine Beck recently won third prize in the Metropolitan Opera Western Region Council Auditions in January 2018; tenor Bille Bruley hails from Montgomery, Texas and is a recent graduate of the prestigious Indiana University Jacobs School of Music where he studied under Carol Vaness; bass-baritone Brandon Morales has performed all over the US from Pacific Northwest’s Portland Opera to Virginia Opera on the East Coast; and rounding out the residence are Arizona Opera’s returning studio artists baritone Jarrett Porter, a graduate of San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Eastman School of Music, and collaborative pianist and vocal coach Michael Lewis, who has a Master of Music from Arizona State University.


The Arizona Opera 2018/19 Season is made possible by CopperPoint Insurance Companies. Additional support is provided by Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, OPERA America, American Airlines (official airline), Marriott (official hotel), and Piano Showroom (official music partner).


About Arizona Opera

Arizona Opera, originally the Tucson Opera Company, was founded in 1971 by a dedicated group of opera enthusiasts. Its inaugural season featured two performances of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville in Tucson.  By the 1976 – 1977 season, Arizona Opera was performing complete seasons in both Tucson and Phoenix. Since its inaugural year, Arizona Opera has produced over 170 fully-staged operas and concerts. The company’s artistic history is rich with a blend of opera’s traditional repertoire featuring baroque, bel canto, and verismo works, turn-of-the-century masterpieces, operettas, and American operas. Arizona Opera has also presented Wagner’s complete Ring Cycle twice, a feat that has only been accomplished in North America by four other companies.


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