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When opera was invented in Italy during the 1590s, it had more in common with a jazz club than the opera house. These first operas were performed in dimly-lit, intimate rooms, and they were highly improvised. Small ensembles—or combos—of continuo instruments would stretch time, play with dissonance, and do whatever it took to highlight the drama at hand.

Luis Alejandro Orozco and Catalina Cuervo.

“The entire libretto of Maria de Buenos Aires is surreal,” says Stage Director and Choreographer John de los Santos. “It’s incredibly beautiful, visceral poetry. It gives you clues but it doesn’t give you any answers -- there’s nothing concrete in it at all.”

Maria de Buenos Aires is dazzling audiences the world over after decades of relative obscurity. As new productions increase each year, Maria de Buenos Aires—an enigmatic work—is expanding and reshaping the operatic experience while simultaneously exposing new audiences to the rhythms and moves of tango.

The Temple of Music and Art

The Temple of Music and Art is a Spanish Colonial Revival that resides in the heart of Tucson. Seating 623 patrons, the Temple of Music and Art is a lovely venue for performances of the McDougall Arizona Opera RED Series. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

Center Stage at the Herberger Theater

The Herberger Theater Center is one of Phoenix’s premiere performing arts venues, featuring three unique stages. Each year, approximately 120,000 people experience performing arts at the Herberger Theater Center.

Think passion, drama, love...think sexy. That’s how Arizona Opera Head of Music Christopher Cano describes the McDougall Arizona Opera RED Series in the 2018/2019 season. “We want to introduce Arizona to newer works in more intimate venues,” says Cano, “so for the first time we’re performing two operas in downtown Phoenix’s Herberger Theater Center and Tucson’s Temple of Music and Art.”

What a tremendous season we have had!  All of our studio artists had a great year filled with enormous growth and outstanding opportunities. All six artists had fantastic assignments this season, and each one of them met their respective challenges with aplomb and finesse. With leading roles in all five productions, each and every artist discovered new ways to become stronger and better artists in their own right. 

It's likely composer Richard Wagner would have wholeheartedly embraced Arizona Opera’s upcoming performances of Das Rheingold, which honor his all-encompassing theatrical vision with an onstage orchestra surrounded by intricate projections. Wagner wrote his own libretto -- based on Nordic mythology -- in pursuit of a seamless aesthetic integration of music, dance, visual art and poetry, and the opera premiered in Munich in 1869, although the composer was dissatisfied with the scope of the production.

Richard Wagner never set out to create the largest work of art in Western civilization. And yet, by the time his epic Der Ring des Nibelungen premiered in 1876 at Bayreuth—a theater custom built for performances of the Ring—Wagner had written over 14 hours of music, dramatizing the birth and death of civilization itself.

“Figaro! Figaro! Fi-i-i-i-i-g-g-a-a-a-r-o!”

Whether you’re familiar with the mocking demand for Rossini’s barber from cartoons or from the stage -- or even if the baritone aria “Largo al factotum” hasn’t yet teased your ears -- Figaro’s comical lament is immediately irresistible.



At The Arizona Opera Center, 1636 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix: 

Wednesday, March 7, 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Saturday, March 10, 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, March 20, 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Saturday, April 7, 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

At Dove of Peace Church, 665 W Roller Coaster Rd, Tucson, AZ 85704

Leonard Bernstein’s Candide premiered on Broadway in 1956, the same year Elvis’ first record hit the charts and Eisenhower successfully won reelection as our 34th president. In 1956, the world was grappling with monumental change: cultural norms were shifting, technology was advancing, and economies were transforming; McCarthyism was raging in Washington D.C. and the Soviet Union was testing its nuclear arsenal. It was hardly “the best of all possible worlds.”

Within the dimly lit ballroom of the Corsi Palace, a small group of Florentine musicians, poets, and intellectuals of the late Renaissance—the Florentine Camerata—filed into their seats to conduct an experiment: Can the catharsis of ancient Greek theater be recreated by adding music to classical drama? These Renaissance men hoped to recreate the profundity of Grecian theater, just as their colleagues in the fine arts resurrected the grace of Greek statuary from blocks of modern marble. After years of research, analysis, and a little guesswork, the Camerata unearthed the essential ingredient that would elevate their performances to the altar of Dionysus. They concluded that music was required to bind the paradoxical worlds of antiquity—the sacred and profane—into one cohesive experience. Their experiment was narrow in its scope, but the results were momentous. Instead of simply mimicking the glory of the past, the Camerata created an art form of the future: opera.