Arizona Opera fills casting for 2018-19 season

Utah Symphony and Opera Company “The Marriage of Figaro” by Mozart in 2009 in Salt Lake City. (Submitted Photo)

Following the announcement of its 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, according to a press release.

The company will open the season with its Arizona Opera RED Series in Phoenix Friday, Sept. 28, and in Tucson Saturday, Oct. 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, a release states.

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 Jan. 25, 2019 in Phoenix at Symphony and Feb. 2, 2019 at Tucson Music Hall.

It will feature three operatic masterworks including Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata, Kevin Puts’ Silent Night, and The Marriage of Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

“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,” President and General Director Joseph Specter said in a prepared statement.

“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.

“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 Sept. 28-30 in Phoenix and on Oct. 6-7 in Tucson, with the grand master of tango writing, Astor Piazzolla, and his only operatic piece, Maria de Buenos Aires.

Maria de Buenos Aires. (Submitted Photo)

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 Nov. 9-11 in Phoenix and Nov. 17-18 in Tucson, Arizona Opera’s own Joshua Borths will direct Charlie Parker’s Yardbird. Set in the 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.

Utah Symphony and Opera Production of La Traviata, October 2006. (Submitted Photo)

In the role of Alfredo is San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow Daniel Montenegro, recognized for his voice, has sung in a number of roles including The Flying Dutchman with both Portland and Arizona Operas’ and David Blalock, known for his voice and 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 March 1, 2019, as part of Arizona Opera’s “Modern Masterworks Series” 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 work 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, Minn., 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, Joseph Mechavich, returns to Arizona Opera’s stage, bringing his  artistry and energy to this performance.

Additionally, former Marion Roose Pullin Opera Studio Artist, Joseph Lattanzi, is back, bringing his  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 Croetto, 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” according to The Washington Post, Trinidadian soprano Jeanine De Bique brings wit and charm to the role of Susanna.

Baritone, Zachary Nelson will assume the role of Count Almaviva.

2018-19 Marion Roose Pullin Studio Artists

In addition to performances, Arizona Opera is introducing its Marion Roose Pullin Studio Artists for the 2018-19 Season.

Soprano Cadie Jordan is a native to Baton Rouge, La. 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 Indiana University Jacobs School of Music where he studied under Carol Vaness.

Bass-baritone Brandon Morales has performed all over the U.S. from Pacific Northwest’s Portland Opera to Virginia Opera on the East Coast.

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.

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