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2017/18 Theater/Opera Season Highlights

Theater/Opera Peview – June 19, 2017

2017/18 MAJOR THEATER/OPERA SEASON HIGHLIGHTS

Over the past few weeks, we have reviewed Arizona Theatre Company, ASU Gammage, and Phoenix Theatre 2017/18 seasons.  In addition, the Valley has other significant performing arts companies that bring popular, classic, and premiere attractions here.  Today we look at highlights from the new Arizona Opera, Childsplay, Hale Centre Theatre, Phoenix Symphony, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, and Stray Cat Theatre seasons.

Arizona Opera presents five productions of usually standard operatic fare.  This season, in addition to three warhorse productions, the company will present a new opera based on the popular … Continue Reading

“Riders of the Purple Sage” – Arizona Opera

Opera Review – March 6, 2017

WORLD PREMIERE OPERA BY LOCAL COMPOSER SHOWS PROMISE

“RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE”
Arizona Opera, Symphony Hall
Phoenix, AZ

It’s always exciting when a world premiere performing arts event occurs in Arizona.  And when the world premiere comes from a locally based composer, Craig Bohmler, the work stirs even more interest.  Add a world-famous local visual artist to create the striking sets and the audience at Friday’s night’s Arizona Opera’s performance of “Riders of the Purple Sage” was pulling for the work.  It justified the excitement.

Bohmler’s creative score and Steven Mark Kohn’s libretto are based on Zane Grey’s well-known … Continue Reading

“Madama Butterfly” – Arizona Opera

Theater Review – February 6, 2017

ARIZONA OPERA STAGES AN INSPIRED “MADAMA BUTTERFLY”

“MADAMA BUTTERFLY”
Arizona Opera, Symphony Hall
Phoenix, AZ

Years ago in San Francisco, I attended my first professional opera featuring the brilliant soprano Leontyne Price in a beautiful staging of Puccini’s popular masterpiece “Madama Butterfly.”  What a wonderful opera to open a child to the genre.  When I arrived in Phoenix in 1979, my first exposure to Arizona Opera was a dreadful production of the same masterpiece in a shoddy looking and very tired staging that featured a fading opera diva.  I got the giggles early on and couldn’t stop snickering through … Continue Reading

“Rusalka” – Arizona Opera

This review aired on KBAQ November 14, 2016

FAMOUS DVORAK OPERA “RUSALKA” WELL SUNG BUT WEAKLY STAGED

“RUSALKA”
Arizona Opera, Symphony Hall
Phoenix, AZ

It’s significant that Arizona Opera has reached the point in its 45-year history where they can program other than warhorse opera hits.  Those tired and true works like “Madama Butterfly” and “Cinderella” that are both part of the remaining current season, still make up the majority of their annual seasons but local opera lovers now get unusual works that are rarely performed by major American opera companies and, later this season, the company presents its first world premiere opera, “Riders of … Continue Reading

“Rasheeda Speaking” – Black Theatre Troupe and “45th Anniversary Sapphire Celebration” – Arizona Opera

This review aired on KBAQ October 17, 2016

BLACK THEATRE TROUPE DELIVERS SMASHING “RASHEEDA SPEAKING” AND ARIZONA OPERA PRESENTS DYNAMIC “45TH ANNIVERSARY SAPPHIRE CELEBRATION “ WITH RENOWNED OPERA STAR FREDERICA VON STADE

“RASHEEDA SPEAKING”
Black Theatre Troupe, Helen K. Mason Performing Arts Center
Phoenix, AZ

Two exciting performing arts events – the Black Theatre Troupe’s rich staging of “Rasheeda Speaking” and an incandescent Arizona Opera concert celebrating the company’s 45th season – made quite an exciting performing arts weekend.

After a long period of mediocrity and a rocky transition to their new playhouse, the Black Theatre Troupe presents a smashing local premiere, “Rasheeda Speaking,” a 2015 … Continue Reading

Summer Hiatus

To All Curtain Up Phoenix Readers:

During the summer live theater and performing arts hiatus in the Phoenix area, Curtain Up Phoenix will take a vacation.  There will be no new review postings to this site during July and August.  In September, regular postings of new theater and other performing arts events reviews will resume.  To all Phoenix area theatergoers, have a relaxing summer and please join me again in September for reviews of the exciting new 2016/17 season of theater and other performing arts events.

Chris Curcio, July 3, 2016

“Don Giovanni” and “Falstaff” – Arizona Opera and “Of Mice and Men” – Arizona Theatre Company

This review aired on KBAQ April 4, 2016

ARIZONA OPERA SHINES WITH “FALSTAFF” BUT PRESENTS ORDINARY “DON GIOVANNI”

“Don Giovanni” and “Falstaff”
Arizona Opera, Symphony Hall
Phoenix, AZ

The just concluded 2015/16 Arizona Opera Season represented a winning combination of well sung and visually exciting diverse productions along with some impressive firsts by our local company.  The Opera’s season included some of the finest young singers available, while every production was well conceived.

The company opened with a 1953 treasure set in the Southwest, “Arizona Lady.”  It looked and sounded like a Broadway tuner but it represented an interesting musical look at our state.  “Florencia en … Continue Reading

“Looking Over the President’s Shoulder” – Black Theatre Troupe and “Carmen” – Arizona Opera

This review aired on KBAQ February 8, 2016

INTERESTING BUT DISAPPOINTING “LOOKING OVER THE PRESIDENT’S SHOULDER” AND A BRILLIANT “CARMEN”

“LOOKING OVER THE PRESIDENT’S SHOULDER”
Black Theatre Troupe, The Helen K. Mason Performing Arts Center
Phoenix, AZ

The Black Theatre Troupe has struggled since they moved to a new Phoenix-financed playhouse on Washington Street that is a chore to reach.  Any theater is entitled to an occasional weak production but when disappointment becomes the rule, I seek other theater companies that might be doing better work to review.

Occasionally, BTT schedules an interesting production like the current “Looking Over the President’s Shoulder,” playwright James Still’s solo … Continue Reading

“Disgraced” – Arizona Theatre Company and “Florencia en el Amazonas” – Arizona Opera

This review aired on KBAQ November 16, 2015

“DISGRACED” IS SMASHING AND “FLORENCIA en el AMAZONAS” IS FINE

“DISGRACED”
Arizona Theatre Company, Center Stage, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix, AZ

Two different but rewarding performing arts events greeted Phoenix audiences this past weekend when Arizona Theatre Company premiered a smashing production of the recent Broadway hit “Disgraced” and Arizona Opera premiered a fine presentation of the first Spanish opera commissioned in the United States, “Florencia en el Amazonas.”

You will never guess where “Disgraced” is headed when the 90 minute play begins and launches into a wild ride as characters evolve, develop, and change with split-second dialogue … Continue Reading

“Arizona Lady” – Arizona Opera

This review aired on KBAQ October 19, 2015

“ARIZONA LADY” LOOKS AND SOUNDS LIKE A BIG BROADWAY MUSICAL

“ARIZONA LADY”
Arizona Opera, Symphony Hall
Phoenix, AZ

How often do you see cowboy hats at the Arizona Opera?  Not often but the United States premiere of the first professional opera staging of Emmerich Kalman’s operetta, “Arizona Lady,” set in 1925 Tucson, brought lots of them to Symphony Hall.

What was on stage over the weekend looked and sounded a lot like big contemporary Broadway musicals complete with elaborate sets, attractive costumes, and a silly story reminiscent of ancient operettas like “The Student Prince,” “The Vagabond King,” and … Continue Reading