Arizona Opera 2013/14 Season In Review

This review aired on KBAQ May 19, 2014


Arizona Opera
Symphony Hall
Phoenix, AZ

The Arizona Opera presented an impressively sung 2013/14 season of five operas in two venues.  I was only able to see three of the operas and of the productions I saw – Richard Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman,” Puccini’s “La Boheme,” and Verdi’s “La Traviata,” – I wasn’t impressed with the rather boringly staged productions and the mediocre sets and costumes, but I was amazed at the fine opera singers the company used who did justice to the great musical roles and acted the drama with enough skill that no production were laughable.  I wish I had been able to see the other two productions – Gilbert and Sullivan’s “H.M.S. Pinafore” and Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale,” both comic operas.

Of the three operas I saw, the most impressive musically was Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman,” an opera of unusual musical demands that was sung by fine singers and played beautifully by the always excellent opera orchestra.  This production featured the orchestra on stage and the opera was sung on the stage apron using limited movement so it focused on the music .  The fine singers sang Wagner’s score with a fervor that gave the music passion and dramatic personality.  This opera played three performances in as many days using the same singers without the usual alternative singers for the middle performance.  Conductor Joseph Rescigno got the masterful orchestra to play the demanding score with remarkable precision.

The two standard operatic works I saw – “La Boheme” and “La Traviata” – were also brilliantly sung and in “La Boheme’s” case was stunningly acted.  “La Boheme’s” well worn story was beautifully presented and sung with an ardent fervor.  The same cannot be said of “La Traviata” that used bland scenery and costumes all in shades of reds and blacks.  Caitlin Lynch who played “La Traviata’s” Violetta was too old for the role and her voice lacked the soaring perfection required for this pivotal role.  Adriano Graziani, the tenor playing Alfredo, needed to take his eyes off the conductor occasionally as it suggested a lack of experience with the role.  No other lead during the season watched the conductor so closely.  Alfredo’s father, Giorgio, was excellently portrayed by Mark Walters who sang beautifully and acted believably.

Next season Arizona Opera again presents a diverse season including the world premiere of the first mariachi opera, “Cruzar la Cara de la Luna,” followed by four standard operatic warhorses, “Rigoletto,” “Eugene Onegin,” “The Magic Flute,” and “The Daughter of the Regiment.”  Arizona Opera continues to evolve into an impressive regional opera company, something this company was not just a few seasons ago.  For tickets to the 2014/15 Arizona Opera season, call the Arizona Opera box office at 602-266-7464 or order tickets online at