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This blog post is the first of three posts from General Director Ryan Taylor, which chronicle the inspiration to bring Arizona Lady to the stages of Tucson and Phoenix this October.

The world was full of optimism and champagne at the turn of the 20th century. On the surface, Europe was dancing to the carefree melodies of operetta, but under that cavalier veneer, the cracks that would lead to World War I were beginning to grow.

At the end of each Arizona Opera season, I am often asked by people what I plan to do with all my free time. It’s an obvious question. After all, it appears nothing is happening once the artists have all gone, the stage darkens, and the audiences go home. However, everything that you see onstage during the opera season is the result of months of planning and preparation—the bulk of which happens during the summer.

“Is this going to be a traditional production?”

As the Education Manager at Arizona Opera, this is the question I am asked most about operas in our upcoming seasons, and I must confess, I don’t really know how to answer it. After all, what tradition are we talking about?

Next season, we're presenting five operas, and three of them have never been seen before on Arizona Opera's stage. Whether you're a seasoned pro, or ready to start your first season with us, here are some things to know about the 2015/16 Season.

This coming weekend, I’m tackling a project that used to be pretty common for me: performance. If I’m being honest, I’m just this side of absolutely terrified. I sing once a year on Christmas morning in my hometown church so that the choir can spend the morning with their families. Other than that, I haven’t sung anything of substance in public for four years.

Click here to find your photograph from the lobby photos of The Daughter of the Regiment at Phoenix Symphony Hall 
Friday, April 10, 2015Saturday, April 11, 2015Sunday, April 12, 2015

At the final performance of The Daughter of the Regiment this season, we will have journeyed from Arizona and Mexico through Italy and Russia to the Tyrolean Alps – not to mention the fantastical realm in The Magic Flute. It has been a journey none of us will soon forget, and we’ve saved the best for last. Donizetti’s vibrant The Daughter of the Regiment provides the thrilling burst of joie de vivre on which we will end our season 191 days following our first performance of Cruzar la Cara de la Luna last October!

I grew up in a good school district. When I was in early elementary school, we had music, art, and gym classes that were on a three day rotation. We received grades for these disciplines and our work and participation in music was just as pertinent to parent-teacher conferences as our progress in English and math.

I can’t believe we have arrived at our fifth and final opera of 2014/15, and soon, this season will be nothing but memories of glorious music, beautiful productions, and wonderful performances.

Mozart and Schikaneder penned their popular masterpiece, Die Zauberflöte, in 1791, just fifteen years after the United States declared its independence from Great Britain.

Click here to find your photograph from the lobby photos of The Magic Flute at Phoenix Symphony Hall 
Friday, February 27, 2015Saturday, February 28, 2015Sunday, March 1, 2015

Once upon a time, a prince woke to find himself lost in an enchanted forest in a strange land. He had no idea how he had arrived in such a place, nor how he would ever return home. The forest was dark and full of mysterious sounds. He was alone and afraid.

Click here to find your photograph from the lobby photos of Eugene Onegin at Phoenix Symphony Hall 
Friday, February 6, 2015Saturday, February 7, 2015Sunday, February 8, 2015

Ever since jumping headlong into the opera industry – first as a performer and then on the administrative side of the table – I’ve noticed that lots of people are curious whether I’m willing or able to name my very favorite opera. I’ve never been particularly good at choosing favorites. That said, should I ever find myself banished to a desert island, with the mysterious rule that I can only take along a few opera recordings with me, Eugene Onegin would easily make it into that first handful I would grab as I was pulled from my home!