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February 2017
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OGSA Has Role in  Purple Sage Premiere
Contributed by Frank Finkenberg and Betty Allen
A world premiere anywhere is a very special event, but for one to be held in Tucson is probably unprecedented. OGSA is doing its part to make the debut of Riders of the Purple Sage extra-special.
  • First, on January 24 we sponsored composer Craig Bohmler's appearance at an open rehearsal for our UA student singers.
  • Next, these singers, Sopranos Ariana Iniguez and Kristen Lucas, Baritone Mark Hockenberry, Tenor Carlos Antonio-Feliciano will perform selections from the new opera at our previews February 13 and 17. Our narrator will be Betty Allen.
  • Finally, while the February 25 premiere is sold out, two lucky friends of OGSA still have a chance to attend. Through the generosity of Arizona Opera, we will raffle two orchestra seats to the world premiere at our Brown Bag preview on February 17.

This opera is grand in every way – lush orchestrations, powerful Puccini-like arias, colorful characters, and amazing sets created by renowned western artist Ed Mell.

In a conversation with Craig Bohmler, he explained how the idea for the opera came to him. A few summers ago, he was driving down the main street of Payson, Arizona when a monsoon downpour hit. There was a sign pointing to the “Zane Grey Museum”, so he drove there to wait out the storm. There, amidst movie posters and memorabilia was Zane Grey’s first novel, “Riders of the Purple Sage”. Bohmler bought the book and took it home to read. Something about the book seemed to him to “sing”; as a result, he decided to write an opera based on the novel.

The setting is a large fictional town of Short Creek, in Utah territory, with its sweeping high desert landscape, exotic rock formations, and brilliant coral sunsets. The story centers around the young widow Jane Withersteen, owner of the  Withersteen Ranch, who is being pressured by the local Mormon Bishop Dyer to marry Tull, a Mormon elder.  Tull and Bishop Dyer hope to take control of her vast lands.  The story unfolds in  a wild west Zane Grey manner, with a cattle stampede, a secret hidden canyon, and plenty of romance.

So come join us and be one of the first to hear this music before the world premiere.

Student Singers To Compete at Quest for the Best
Student singers will compete for cash prizes at the annual OSGA Quest for the Best beginning at 1 pm on March 11 at Holsclaw Hall at the University of Arizona. Don’t miss your opportunity to hear these inspirational graduate and undergraduate students sing arias. OSGA will award a total of $10,000 in prize money to the winners. Every singer will receive at least $250.

There are several ways you can support this event.
  1. Buy tickets. Ticket prices range from $10 to $60. To purchase tickets online, click here: Tickets. To pay by check, click here: order form. A portion of ticket proceeds are tax-deductible.
  2. To make a donation, click here: Donation
  3. Place a message in the program. Every year, OGSA honors a person who has been an outstanding promoter of the Opera Guild of Southern Arizona and the arts, and this year it will be Iris Arnesen.  Your message will help us show our appreciation for all that Iris has done for opera in Tucson and beyond. Information about purchasing space in the program is available on the donation form, which you can access by clicking the "donation" link above.
  4. Volunteer.  Helpers will be needed to do the following: 
  • Assist in the setup of the lobby and reception area,
  • Greet attendees at the door to tell them where to sign in,        
  • Check in the people who have pre-registered,
  • Hand out programs, ballots, and pencils,
  • Help backstage to communicate with the singers,
  • Collect ballots at intermission after the undergraduates sing,
  • Collect ballots after the graduate students sing,
  • Help the bartender pour wine, and
  • Help with final tasks at the end of the event.

If you are interested in volunteering, email or call Judi. (520) 906-3792


From the President . . . 

Dear friends,

The Opera Guild is opening a new and exciting partnership with the opera students at the University of Arizona.  As you know, the money we raise goes to them for grants and scholarships.  But we would like to know them, individually and collectively, better.  Fortunately, the students have created their own "Singers Club" and have as their faculty sponsor the wonderful baritone, Andrew Stuckey.  Two members of the Club, Mark Hockenberry and Ariana Iniquiz, came to our January board meeting and told us more about the Club's goals.  For example, since so much more than singing goes into forging a career in vocal performance, they will have at one of their monthly meetings a presentation on the "Alexander Method," a type of focused "mindfulness" that involves both body and mind.  We in the Opera Guild would be able to come.

This would be a new partnership, and we are feeling our way.  We have already started by inviting the Club to come to the "Live at the Met" broadcasts, and we would pay for their tickets.  Three students met me for the Nabucco, even though it was still Christmas break.  Today, five students came to the Park Place Mall performance of a truly magnificent Romeo et Juliette.  More students had wanted to come, but they had a master class to attend. This series offers encore performances, so I conferred with the students, they texted their fellow members and six of them were able attend the encore. I bought their tickets with the Opera Guild credit card and gave them to Mark Hockenberry to distribute.

By having a specific entity like the Singers Club, we can better connect with the students.  We have budgeted for their tickets to "Live at the Met" performances in years past, but the bureaucratic hassle of getting the faculty to identify and plan for certain students to go, and then getting them the tickets was just too burdensome.  (As a former faculty wife, I know that all the professors in every department are laden with a lot of paperwork.)  the easiest way is simply to meet them there, and buy the tickets for them on the spot.

I'm hoping that we can repeat hosting them for another Met performance.  But the joy and excitement on their faces after today's performance was not just worth the cost of the tickets--it was priceless.

And now is the time to get your tickets to Quest, and make a donation to the program.  We are honoring Iris Arnesen.  Those of you who attended the previews for Madama Butterfly were treated to one of the best narrations we have ever had!  If you thought you knew everything about this much loved opera, you discovered yet more exquisite touches and layers to this masterpiece. Iris has given so much to this community:  let's give something back by showing her how much we appreciate her knowledge and her generosity in sharing it.

With best wishes,

Carol Garrard, President


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