Arizona Opera Announces Casting for 50th Anniversary Season

The Two Gay Geeks have another press release from Arizona Opera with more information on their 50th anniversary season as well as casting for the performances.

This is a really exciting season for Arizona Opera with the premiere of the feature length film of the Copper Queen, a commissioned work by Clint Borzoni and John De Los Santos.

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PHOENIX and TUCSON, Arizona – Arizona Opera’s President and General Director, Joseph Specter, officially announced the casting today for the organization’s 2021/22 Season—its 50th Anniversary Season—which will feature an exciting and diverse programming schedule of five productions, including the release of the company’s first world premiere film and four planned in-theater productions in both Phoenix and Tucson.

“Our 50th Anniversary Season would be a reason to celebrate in and of itself as we begin to emerge from this challenging pandemic year. It is made that much more meaningful by the prospect of our returning to in-theater performances this December in both Phoenix and Tucson.”

He continued, “We thank the communities that we have had the honor of serving as we reach this milestone. Their decades of devotion and love for this art form have made this anniversary possible. It would also be impossible not to thank the Arizona Opera Board, who have demonstrated incredible leadership and generosity in helping us to persevere through the pandemic to reach this moment.

“While we eagerly anticipate our return to in-theater performances in our 50th Anniversary Season, first and foremost will always be the health and safety of our audience, staff and artists. For this reason, we will continue to work with Arizona Opera’s Health Advisory Task Force to ensure that all necessary precautions are taken throughout the year in service to our entire opera family.

“We also understand that there may be patrons who require extra time to make their decision about when they return to public gatherings, including our own in-theater performances. For this reason, we have extended our season ticket renewal period by several months in order to allow patrons additional flexibility in their decision-making process.

“In addition to our in-theater productions, our 50th Anniversary Season will focus on the continued creation of digital programs that can be experienced and enjoyed from the comfort of one’s home. Being able to connect with opera newcomers and longtime lovers of the art form through our digital programming—both within Arizona and beyond—has been one of the bright lights during the past year, and we are eager to explore how we can grow our impact even further in the year ahead.”

In summary, Mr. Specter also noted, “There is no question that Arizona Opera has had a remarkable first 50 years. We are even more inspired about the prospects for its next 50, and we can’t wait to celebrate with all of our friends throughout the season ahead, both online and in-theater.”




The Copper Queen Film

Clint Borzoni, Composer | John de los Santos, Librettist
To Be Released in October 2021 on Arizona Opera OnDemand (

What brought them together across a century?

Arizona Opera’s 2021/22 Season will open with the McDougall RED Series film premiere of The Copper Queen. The production, originally slated to be performed in-theatre, was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and then reimagined as the company’s first film project.

The Copper Queen Film features Arizona Opera’s first ever all-female director/conductor/designer team, helmed by Crystal Manich, and is being produced in association with Manley Films. It tells the dramatic story of Julia Lowell, a resident of The Copper Queen Hotel in Bisbee, Arizona in 1910, who was forced to live in captivity in service to the men of the town.

A century later, Addison Moore—a stranger to Bisbee—visits Room 315, the site of Julia’s tragic death, where her ghost now famously roams. This riveting tale—told across the generations—is one of human bondage, furtive romance, secret connections, and ultimately—redemption.

“Clint and I are so excited to bring the premiere of The Copper Queen to opera audiences across the globe in this compelling new vision,” stated John de los Santos, the opera’s librettist.

Clint Borzoni, the composer of The Copper Queen, added, “I believe that the intimacy of the work lends itself well to film, since the piece is a dark and rich character study. Through the lyrical score and gripping plot, I’m confident audiences will be pulled into the haunted room along with the characters.”

Crystal Manich, the film’s director, said, “What originally drew me to The Copper Queen as an opera was the journey of two strong female characters in two distinct time periods in the same hotel room in the American west. The through-composed piece provided compelling challenges for stage.” She added, “Pivoting the opera from stage to screen has been a fantastic opportunity to lean into styles of filmmaking that include drama, horror, and old westerns, all of which work to support the lush score and text that will keep audiences wanting to learn more about our heroines as the mystery of how their journeys coincide unfolds.”

Arizona Opera has partnered with Phoenix-based Manley Films to bring the project to life, which is being filmed this spring for its much-anticipated online release in October.

More on Copper Queen

Composer: Clint Borzoni
Libretto: John de los Santos
Conductor: Daniela Candillari
Stage Director: Crystal Manich
Assistant Stage Director: Haley Stamats
Scenery Designer: Liliana Duque Piñeiro
Costume Designer: Alice Fredrickson
Lighting Designer: Cindy Limauro
Stage Manager: Keri Muir
Assistant Stage Manager: Ambar Dominguez
First Rehearsal Pianist: Christopher Cano

Performed in English with English Supertitles


Julia Lowell: Vanessa Becerra
Addison Moore: Sarah Coit
Theodore Billings: Joshua Dennis
Daddy Lowell /Mr. Floyd: Keith Phares
Peter Ackerman/ Man #1: Joseph Lattanzi
Richie “Sugar Dog”: Peter Morgan
Man #2: Ian Christiansen

Running Time: One hour and 36 minutes

Please note: This production contains adult themes and suggestive dialogue. Audience discretion is advised. Appropriate for ages 17+.


Part of the McDougall Arizona Opera RED Series. Lead underwriting provided by Matt and Ann Melsheimer. Production made possible, in part, through additional generous support from Marlu Allan and Scott Stallard, Roma Wittcoff, Carol and Franc Buck Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Michael and Beth Kasser, Margaret T. Morris Foundation, Drs. Stephen and Barbara Munk, Charles and Jennifer Sands, Ron and Kay McDougall, Colonel (Ret.) Kimberly Smith, Dr. Judith G. Wolf, and members of the Arizona Spark Commissioning Club.

The all-female conductor-director-designer team of The Copper Queen is generously supported by a consortium of donors, led by Susan Esco Chandler, Milo and Kim Kauffman, and Linda Hirshman.


El Milagro del Recuerdo (The Miracle of Remembering)

Production by Leonard Foglia | Javier Martínez, Composer | Leonard Foglia, Librettist
Phoenix – December 3-5, 2021 – Herberger Theater Center
Tucson – December 11-12, 2021 – Temple of Music and Art

How does the journey of a lifetime begin?

A prequel to the sensational mariachi opera Cruzar la Cara de la Luna that was presented by Arizona Opera as part of its 2014/15 Season, El Milagro del Recuerdo brings audiences back to where the story of Cruzar all began: Michoacán, Mexico. Set during Christmas, the opera lovingly explores the themes of traditions and familial bonds while its characters deal with life-changing decisions and dream of something more.

Director and Librettist Leonard Foglia comments: “The piece deals with the basic issues surrounding the choices people have to make in life. It tells universal, human stories. How do we make decisions about what’s important? I hope it resonates with everyone.”


Composer: Javier Martinez
Production and Libretto: Leonard Foglia
Conductor/ Music Director: James Lowe
Director: Leonard Foglia
Assistant Stage Director: Haley Stamats
Scenery Designer: Neil Patel
Costume Designer: Gregory Gale
Lighting Designer: Ken Billingto
Sound Designer: Joshua D. Reid
Performed in Spanish with English Supertitles

Performance Dates:
Phoenix – December 3-5, 2021 – Herberger Theater Center
Tucson – December 11-12, 2021 – Temple of Music and Art

Renata: Cecelia Duarte
Laurentino: Octavio Moreno
Lupita: Vanessa Alonzo
Chucho:Miguel de Aranda
Aba: Héctor Vásquez
Josefina: Claudia Chapa
Father Matias: Rafael Moras
A Young Woman: Zulimar Lopez Hernandez
Onstage Mariachi Player #1: Vincent Pequeno
Onstage Mariachi Player #2: William Galvez
Onstage Mariachi Player #3: Israel Alcala

Crediting: Commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera Premiered by Houston Grand Opera in December, 2019 A Co-Production of Arizona Opera, Houston Grand Opera, and San Diego Opera Part of the McDougall Arizona Opera RED Series. Production made possible, in part, through generous support from Drs. Herschel and Jill Rosenzweig, the Carol Franc Buck Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Michael and Beth Kasser. 





Arizona Opera’s 50th Anniversary Season’s three Main Stage Series productions will be presented in winter/spring 2022 at Symphony Hall in Phoenix and at the newly-renovated Tucson Music Hall.

Among the works to be featured are the return of one of the most popular operas in the entire canon, Bizet’s Carmen, and Mozart’s delightfully scandalous masterpiece, Così fan tutte. Rounding out the Main Stage Series will be a stylish production of A Little Night Music, Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s Tony Award-winning theatrical classic, presented as part of the Marlu Allan and Scott Stallard Modern Masterworks Series.



Georges Bizet, Composer | Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, Librettists
Phoenix – January 28-30, 2022 – Symphony Hall
Tucson – February 5-6, 2022 – Tucson Music Hall

One of the most famous seductresses of all time is about to make her triumphant return.

The ultimate diva, the gypsy Carmen can ignite men’s desires and fill their hearts with passion at a single glance. When Don José, a naïve soldier fighting in the Spanish Civil War, gets caught in her web, jealousy rages and anarchy reigns supreme.

The thrilling score by French composer Georges Bizet includes some of the most popular and recognizable music in all of opera, including The Habanera and The Toreador Song.

Stage Director Stephanie Havey says of this beloved masterpiece: “Carmen juxtaposes the facade of civilization and the mysterious forces of primitive desires. Carmen glorifies freedom above all else, challenging the norms that govern hearts and minds. I am looking forward to bringing this iconic opera and its disruptive heroine to life.”

From its lighthearted beginnings to its tragic and destined climax, Carmen is not to be missed. Do so at your peril.

Composer: Georges Bizet
Libretto: Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy
Conductor: Christopher Allen
Stage Director: Stephanie Havey
Choreographer: Logan Pachciarz
Assistant Stage Director: Haley Stamats
Scenery Designer: Allen Charles Klein/Atlanta Opera
Costume Designer: James Schuette/Seattle Opera
Lighting Designer: Gregory Allen Hirsch

Performed in French with English Supertitles

Performance Dates:
Phoenix – January 28-30, 2022 – Symphony Hall
Tucson – February 5-6, 2022 – Tucson Music Hall

Key Casting:

Carmen: Maya Lahyani, Fleur Barron
Don José – Viktor Antipenko, Matthew White
Escamillo – Andrew Manea
Micaela – Vanessa Vasquez, Caitlin Gotimer
Zuniga: WM Clay Thompson
El Dancairo: Rob McGinness
El Remendado: Terrence Chin-Loy
Morales: Rob McGinness
Frasquita: Cheyanne Coss
Mercedes: Mack Wolz

Appropriate for ages High School and Up

Part of the Arizona Opera Main Stage Series. Production made possible, in part, through generous support from Marlys A. Beider, Sherry Middlemas, and the Tucson Desert Song Festival.

A Little Night Music

Stephen Sondheim, Music and Lyrics | Book by Hugh Wheeler
Phoenix – March 4-6, 2022 – Symphony Hall
Tucson – March 12-13, 2022 – Tucson Music Hall

Presented as part of the Marlu Allan and Scott Stallard Modern Masterworks Series, A Little Night Music is the Tony Award and Drama Desk-winning Best Musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Hugh Wheeler, with production and costume design by American fashion icon, Isaac Mizrahi.

Inspired by the Ingmar Bergman film, Smiles of a Summer Night, A Little Night Music focuses on a deliciously tangled web of affairs, all ripe with the possibility of new love and second chances. A comedy of manners with rapturous music, it is moving, witty, heartbreaking, and—most of all—a celebration of love. Among the songs in this groundbreaking theatrical piece is Send in the Clowns, one of the most recorded songs of all time.

Arizona Opera’s production of A Little Night Music will feature the internationally acclaimed American soprano, Patricia Racette, and operatic star Paulo Szot, who won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for the Lincoln Center revival of South Pacific.

Composer: Stephen Sondheim
Libretto: Hugh Wheeler
Conductor: Andrew Bisantz
Scenery Designer: Isaac Mizrahi/Houston Grand Opera
Costume Designer: Isaac Mizrahi/Houston Grand Opera
Scenery Designer: Isaac Mizrahi
Sound Designer: Joshua D. Reid

Performance Dates:
Phoenix – March 4-6, 2022 – Symphony Hall
Tucson – March 12-13, 2022 – Tucson Music Hall

Key Casting:

Desiree Armfeldt: Patricia Racette
Frederick Egerman: Paulo Szot
Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm: Joseph Lattanzi
Charlotte Malcolm: Beth Clayton
Madame Armfeldt: Jill Grove
Anne Egerman: Katrina Galka
Petra: Melanie Long

Part of the Arizona Opera Main Stage Series and the Marlu Allan and Scott Stallard Modern Masterworks Series. Production made possible, in part, through generous support from William and Judy Goldberg and Barbara Molotsky.


Così fan tutte

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Composer | Lorenzo Da Ponte, Librettist
Phoenix –April 8-10, 2022 – Symphony Hall
Tucson – April 16-17, 2022 – Tucson Music Hall

Arizona Opera’s 50th Anniversary Main Stage Series concludes with an all new production of Mozart’s Così fan tutte led by director E. Loren Meeker.

Così tells the story of two sisters who are falsely led to believe that their fiancés have been called to war. In truth, their lovers were only out to test their fidelity, so they return home—in disguise—to seek the truth.

Among the delightful cast of characters in this Mozart classic are Despina, the nosy maid, and Don Alfonso, a philosopher who is actually behind the scenes pulling the strings and making it all happen.

This season finale production will also celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the company’s Marion Roose Pullin Opera Studio, with former artists joining current program members under the baton of Karen Kamensek, who conducted the Metropolitan Opera’s wildly successful production of Phillip Glass’ Akhnaten in the 2019/20 Season.

Arizona Opera’s Head of Music and Director of the Pullin Opera Studio, Christopher Cano, shares: “What a tremendous way to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of our Studio program here at Arizona Opera. Featuring former and current Studio Artists in such a beloved classic will highlight not only the professional significance of the program in their artistic journey, but it also allows us to honor the generous contribution these young talents bring to the table.”

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto: Lorenzo Da Ponte
Conductor: Karen Kamensek
Stage Director: E. Loren Meeker
Assistant Stage Director: Haley Stamats

Performance Dates:
Phoenix –April 8-10, 2022 – Symphony Hall
Tucson – April 16-17, 2022 – Tucson Music Hall

Key Casting:

Fiordiligi: Caitlin Gotimer, Cheyanne Coss
Dorabella: Katie Beck, Mack Wolz
Ferrando: Bille Bruley, Terrence Chin-Loy
Guglielmo: Jarrett Porter, Rob McGinness
Don Alfonso: Mark Schnaible
Despina: Cadie Jordan

Part of the Arizona Opera Main Stage Series. Production made possible, in part, through generous support from Karen Fruen, the Carol Franc Buck Foundation, Ole and Teresa Theinhaus, and Marlys A. Beider.


About Arizona Opera

Arizona Opera, entering its 50th Season in fall of 2021, produces fully-staged operas, concerts, and collaborative programs throughout the state of Arizona each season, and is among only a handful of companies in the U.S. that regularly performs in more than one city. Arizona Opera elevates the transformative power of storytelling through music, cultivating community and strengthening a state and people as adventurous and diverse as the place they call home. Since its inaugural year in 1971, Arizona Opera has produced more than 200 fully-staged operas and concerts. The company’s artistic history is rich with a blend of operas traditional repertoire featuring baroque, bel canto, and verismo works, turn-of-the-century masterpieces, operettas, and American operas.
Arizona Opera is deeply grateful to our 2020/21 Reimagined Season Lead Digital Sponsors, Ron and Kay McDougall.

Website: Arizona Opera
Twitter: @AZOpera
Facebook: Arizona Opera

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