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Arizona Opera announces its season with performances in Phoenix and Tucson

Arizona Opera offers dynamic lineup for 2024-25 season

Staff Reports | Digital Free Press

Arizona Opera is announcing its 2024-25 season.

The season will feature classic productions filled with star-crossed lovers and forbidden romance including the company premiere of a new adventure opera perfect for all ages.

A new “Beyond Downtown” program to bring opera to broader Arizona audiences and an expanded recital series featuring one of opera’s brightest stars is all set to be presented in both the Phoenix and Tucson metropolitan areas.

A new offering in Arizona Opera’s McDougall RED Series featuring a unique coast-to-coast partnership, “Beyond Downtown” will present live opera performances in communities throughout Arizona, moving beyond the walls of the theater, beginning in fall 2024 and continuing into spring 2025.

The season’s in-theater productions will start in January and continue through the year at Symphony Hall in Phoenix and The Linda Ronstadt Music Hall in Tucson, leading off with Puccini’s beloved classic La Bohème.

The Main Stage Series continues with Verdi’s masterpiece Aida in April, and extends into the fall with the daring and family-friendly Zorro in September and October, presented as part of the McDougall RED Series.

The departure from the traditional “fall-to-spring” in-theater production schedule also demonstrates Arizona Opera’s resilience and adaptability in navigating the challenges faced by many performing arts organizations, while maintaining the programming vibrancy that makes an Arizona Opera season so special.

“We are grateful to present another diverse and captivating lineup for our 2024/25 Season,” said Joseph Specter, president and general director of Arizona Opera. “Each production and program offers something unique and compelling, from the timeless romance of La Bohème, to the epic drama of Aida, to the thrilling adventure of Zorro. The season begins with an exciting new partnership that extends our reach beyond the theater, and features a significant expansion of our annual recital series. We’re eager to share these unforgettable experiences with the people of Arizona.”

THE MCDOUGALL RED SERIES PRESENTS: BEYOND DOWNTOWN

Kicking off the season this fall and continuing into the spring, Arizona Opera’s new “Beyond Downtown” program, the newest evolution of the company’s McDougall RED Series, will bring operatic performances throughout Arizona, reaching beyond the walls of the theaters in which the company typically performs. In a one-of-its-kind partnership among Arizona Opera, San Jose-based Ópera Cultura, and New York-based On Site Opera, “Beyond Downtown” will reach a variety of Arizona communities to make an impact “where people are,” presenting energetic and unexpected offerings that will allow Arizona Opera to more fully achieve its mission to connect and inspire communities.

Héctor Armienta, the Artistic Director and Founder of Ópera Cultura – and also the creator of Zorro, featured later in the season – says “Arizona Opera’s ‘Beyond Downtown’ program demonstrates a commitment to make opera an inclusive experience for new and diverse audiences. Ópera Cultura’s partnership with Arizona Opera and On Site Opera rethinks what opera can be.” Sarah Meyers, who directed Arizona Opera’s most recent World Premiere, Frankenstein, and who serves as the Artistic Director of On Site Opera, says “We at On Site Opera (OSO) are excited to be a part of this groundbreaking collaboration. The ‘Beyond Downtown’ program presents a chance to amplify and expand the innovative work OSO does in New York for a wider audience, and we are thrilled to share our passion for site-specific performance with the vibrant communities of Arizona Opera and Ópera Cultura.”

“Beyond Downtown” performances will be presented in both the Phoenix and Tucson metropolitan areas, in fall 2024 and spring 2025. Specific dates, performers, locations, and ticket information will be announced later this spring.

LA BOHÈME

Composer: Giacomo Puccini | Librettists: Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa


Giacomo Puccini’s beloved classic, La Bohème, will open in January, transporting audiences to the streets of 19thcentury Paris for one of the world’s most timeless and moving love stories. In the vibrant Latin Quarter, a romance ignites between the poet Rodolfo and beautiful but frail seamstress Mimì. With its exquisite melodies and stirring emotions, La Bohème continues to captivate audiences around the world. This sumptuous traditional production designed by Peter Dean Beck will feature soprano Caitlin Gotimer, a 2023 Operalia finalist and Arizona Opera favorite in the role of Mimì, following her most recent company success as Juliette in this season’s production of Roméo & Juliette. Tenor SeokJong Baek, who made his Arizona Opera debut as Cavaradossi in last season’s Tosca, returns as Rodolfo, coming off a spectacular Metropolitan Opera debut season as both Ismaele (Nabucco) and Calaf (Turandot). Baritone Benjamin Taylor will make his Arizona Opera debut as the poet Marcello, with soprano Emma Marhefka joining the company for the first time as Musetta. Conductor Steven Osgood and Stage Director Mo Zhou make their respective debuts with Arizona Opera with this production.

Phoenix: Saturday, January 25, 2025 at 7:30 PM – Symphony Hall

Phoenix: Sunday, January 26, 2025 at 2 PM – Symphony Hall

Tucson: Saturday, February 1, 2025 at 2 PM – The Linda Ronstadt Music Hall

Please note: New Tucson performance timing!

AIDA

Composer: Giuseppe Verdi | Librettist: Antonio Ghislanzoni
Part of the Marlu Allan and Scott Stallard Family Series

Next, Arizona Opera will present Giuseppe Verdi’s epic masterpiece, Aida. The splendor of Egypt comes to life through this visually arresting, projection-based concert production of Aida in its first Arizona Opera performances in over a decade. Featuring some of the most breathtaking music in the operatic repertoire, Aida tells the story of forbidden love amidst political intrigue and war. The production features a stellar cast, marked by important role and company debuts, led by internationally-renowned soprano Leah Hawkins making her role debutas Aida. Hawkins, who first appeared at Arizona Opera in the title role of Ariadne auf Naxos last season, will be joined by tenor Limmie Pulliam in his company debut as Radames, reprising the role in which he debuted at The Metropolitan Opera. Mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano, an Arizona favorite, returns to the Arizona Opera stage in her role debut as Amneris, along with baritone Kidon Choi, a recent graduate of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at The Metropolitan Opera, who makes his company debut as Amonasro. Stephanie Rhodes Russell returns to the podium to conduct the Arizona Opera Orchestra following her success in this season’s Roméo & Juliette. Stunning new cinematic projections supported by artificial intelligence in a first-of-its-kind approach will be created by David Murakami. Murakami, whose incredible visuals brought Arizona Opera’s 2018 production of Das Rheingold to life, is joined by celebrated soprano and transformative storyteller Karen Slack as dramaturg and artistic collaborator, to create an unforgettable musical and theatrical experience. 

Phoenix: Saturday, April 12, 2025 at 7:30 PM – Symphony Hall

Phoenix: Sunday, April 13, 2025 at 2 PM – Symphony Hall

Tucson: Saturday, April 19, 2025 at 2 PM – The Linda Ronstadt Music Hall

Please note: New Tucson performance timing!

ZORRO

Composer and Librettist: Héctor Armienta

Part of the McDougall RED Series

Rounding out the season in the fall of 2025 is the thrilling adventure opera, Zorro, with score and libretto by Héctor Armienta. Inspired by the legendary masked vigilante, Zorro follows the return of Diego de La Vega to his native pueblo in Los Angeles, where he encounters old flames, tyrannical rulers, and the plight of the oppressed. In this new pulp fiction-inspired opera performed in both Spanish and English, Zorro leads a thrilling rebellion against the Spanish empire, igniting a revolution and becoming the hero of the people. The production will feature the return of tenor Rafael Moras in the title role. Moras, who made his Arizona Opera debut as Father Matias in El Milagro del Recuerdo in 2021, will be joined by soprano Maria Brea in the role of Ana Maria, making her Arizona Opera debut, and mezzo-soprano Stephanie Sánchez, an alumna of the Marion Roose Pullin Opera Studio, returns to Arizona Opera as Carlotta. Moras, Brea, and Sánchez can be seen previewing their respective roles in the current season’s New Works Festival, taking place May 10-12, 2024 at the Arizona Opera Center in Phoenix. Anthony Barrese will make his company debut as the conductor for Zorro, with David Radamés Toro returning to direct, following his debut in this season’s Pullin Studio Cabaret.

Phoenix: Saturday, September 27, 2025 at 7:30 PM – Symphony Hall

Phoenix: Sunday, September 28, 2025 at 2 PM – Symphony Hall

Tucson: Saturday, October 4, 2025 at 2 PM – The Linda Ronstadt Music Hall

Please note: New Tucson performance timing!

STEPHEN COSTELLO IN RECITAL

Part of the Tucson Desert Song Festival

In addition to its season productions and the new “Beyond Downtown” program, Arizona Opera’s 2024/25 Season will present celebrated tenor Stephen Costello in recitals to be performed in both Tempe and Tucson, at Arizona State University and The University of Arizona. Costello, who led the cast of The Metropolitan Opera’s production of La Bohème this season and who returns to The Met next year in the company’s premiere of Moby Dick, will be accompanied by pianist Anthony Manoli in a program that will include an enthralling mix of both songs and arias.

These recitals are an expansion of the company’s long-standing partnership with the Tucson Desert Song Festival (TDSF), which has made it possible to bring some of today’s most sought-after artists to perform in Arizona Opera’s birth city, in addition to offering master classes for The University of Arizona School of Music. TDSF’s Vice President, Julia Pernet, says “It is a great pleasure to come across a singer with a truly distinctive voice that leaves you wanting more. That was my feeling the first time I heard Stephen Costello who, in the years since, has continued to deliver impeccable vocal technique married to great musicality and exciting interpretations.” New this year, Arizona Opera brings this recital series to Arizona State University (ASU) in collaboration with ASU’s School of Music, Dance and Theatre. Brian Demaris, Artistic Director of Music Theatre and Opera at ASU, says “We have enjoyed a long-time partnership with Arizona Opera that has supported ASU students in providing professional training opportunities and experiences, and we are excited to continue to build on this relationship through this recital, as well as a public master class.”

Tempe: Tuesday, April 1, 2025 at 7:30 PM – Katzin Concert Hall at Arizona State University

Tucson: Thursday, April 3, 2025 at 7 PM – Holsclaw Hall at The University of Arizona 

SEASON TICKET INFORMATION

Season tickets for the 2024/25 Season in-theatre productions are now available for renewal for current subscribers, with sales opening up for new subscribers on August 1, 2024. Becoming a Season Ticket Holder offers patrons the chance to secure their seats ahead of the general public at a price of up to 20% below single ticket prices, in addition to complimentary ticket exchanges and other benefits. Single tickets, including tickets for Stephen Costello in Recital, will go on sale October 1, 2024. Specific dates, performers, locations, and ticket information for “Beyond Downtown” performances will be announced later this spring. More information can be found on Arizona Opera’s website (azopera.org) or by contacting the Box Office at 602.266.7464 (Phoenix), 520.293.4336 (Tucson), or at boxoffice@azopera.org.

Arizona Opera is committed to bringing world-class opera to audiences across our state, and the 2024/25 Season promises to be a celebration of artistry, passion, and storytelling. Don’t miss your chance to experience the magic of opera with Arizona Opera.

ABOUT ARIZONA OPERA

Arizona Opera connects and inspires communities through artistically vibrant programs and productions that combine music, storytelling, and the human voice, creating inclusive, culturally relevant, and impactful experiences, while ensuring the financial sustainability of opera in our state. Since its inaugural year in 1971 as the Tucson Opera Company, Arizona Opera has produced more than 200 staged operas and concerts. The company’s artistic history is rich with a blend of traditional works from the canon, as well as compelling works from the 20th and 21st centuries, and an array of high-impact educational and community engagement programs. For more information visit azopera.org. 

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