Greetings! Looks like there are some fun things to look forward to in 2020 for all of us opera lovers.
In addition to Live from the Met in HD at our local Desert Sky Theater (Berg’s “Wozzeck” on Jan. 11; Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” on Feb. 1; Handel’s “Agrippina” on Feb. 29 (yes, it is a Leap Year, folks!); Wagner’s “Die Fliegende Hollander” on March 14; Puccini’s “Tosca” on April 11; and Donizetti’s “Maria Stuarda” on May 9, Arizona Opera is set to continue their season at Tucson Music Hall, and there are some other fun things.
First, I confess I am always impressed with what Arizona Opera does with their productions, innovative lighting, etc. to make the most of their budget — so limited by comparison with, say, the Metropolitan Opera, yet always enjoyable, even edgy in their presentations. I applaud them wholeheartedly, and encourage lots of gifts and donations. There is nothing like live opera.
First up: Puccini’s “La Bohême” on Feb. 1-2. Now some would say, “Oh I have seen that old chestnut,” and pass it up. Opera is not about surprise endings or mysteries; there is a reason these wonderful operas have been heard and done many times — they are darn good! Every time I see yet another production of “La Bohême, I realize yet again, as I am silently sobbing at the end, that these arias and the overall sentiment are really lovely and affecting. I look forward to AZ Opera’s production.
Then, a reprise of their “Riders of the Purple Sage” is March 7-8. “(A)n adaptation of Zane Grey's classic of the same name, tells a powerful story of strength and redemption through love, loss, conflict and adventure across breathtaking Southwest vistas that are brought magnificently to life by world-renowned Arizona artist, Ed Mell,” who designed the production. AZ Opera commissioned and introduced “Riders” in 2017 as a World Premier.
Finally, Richard Strauss’ ”Ariadne auf Naxos” arrives April 11-12, with its gorgeous melodies and sheer fun. “A wealthy patron has commissioned two pieces of entertainment for a private dinner party: an opera based on the myth of Ariadne in exile, and a capering troupe of clowns for comic relief. The catch: the two acts must perform simultaneously! The result is a delightful comedy of errors, as Ariadne auf Naxos delivers a deliciously theatrical mix of humor and exceptionally beautiful music, bringing surprise and delight at every possible turn.” Sounds like lots of fun and Strauss’ music — could it be any better?
An additional nugget is that on Jan. 31, American tenor Matthew Polenzani is giving a recital at Holsclaw Hall at the University of Arizona. I call him the Metropolitan’s “House Tenor” — he never disappoints, has a lovely tenor sound, and is an enthusiastic performer. I am looking forward to this.
Contact Arizona Opera at azopera.org for tickets, and further information.
See you at the Opera!