When he came to Arizona Opera in spring 2016, Joseph Specter was focused on fulfilling one goal: “How can we be the most exciting opera company for Arizona?”
He thinks the answer may be coming next season, when the company shakes its programming model to the core.
Instead of five masterwork operas mounted on the big stages of Tucson Music Hall and Phoenix Symphony Hall, the 47-year-old company that serves both cities is splitting its season in half, opening with smaller, more daring operas in smaller spaces in both cities before returning to its bread-and-butter masterworks in the winter.
In September/October, the company will open its 2018-19 “Arizona Opera Red” series with Ástor Piazzolla’s tango operetta “María de Buenos Aires” at Tucson’s Temple of Music and Art and Phoenix’s Herberger Theater Center. In November, the company will mount Daniel Schnyder’s jazz opera “Charlie Parker’s Yardbird” on those same stages.
In January/February 2019, the company returns to its longtime halls for its Mainstage Series: Verdi’s “La Traviata” followed by Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Silent Night” in March and Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” in April. “Silent Night,” which premiered in Minnesota in 2011, inaugurates the company’s new Marlu Allan and Scott Stallard Modern Masterworks Series.
“One of the reasons I came to Arizona was because this organization is one that really embraces the importance of ensuring that opera is a living and breathing art form today,” said Specter, who replaced Ryan Taylor as president and general manager at the end of the 2015-16 season.
Specter said Taylor’s 2014 “Arizona Bold” initiative, which included programming lesser known or completely unknown works to attract new audiences, paved the way for Red. Taylor’s initiative…