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OperaTunity: opera education for the community

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Opera education is a relatively new addition to opera companies in the United States, introducing children and adults to opera and spreading the message that operas are dramatic stories told through music. This paper focuses on the opera education grou

Opera education is a relatively new addition to opera companies in the United States, introducing children and adults to opera and spreading the message that operas are dramatic stories told through music. This paper focuses on the opera education group OperaTunity and its relationship with the company Arizona Opera, which is based in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. The majority of the paper consists of a history of Arizona Opera, the establishment of its Opera Education Department, and the inception and activities of OperaTunity. The information in this account comes from interviews with personnel involved with OperaTunity and from documents pertinent to the program. This study also examines the reception and success of the group in Arizona and includes examples of educational materials to provide to teachers who are introducing children and adults to opera. This account of the history and activities of OperaTunity is intended to aid future educators and opera companies in developing opera education programs.

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2016

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A history of the first fifty years of the Orpheus Male Chorus of Phoenix

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ABSTRACT The Orpheus Male Chorus of Phoenix occupies and maintains an historical place in the musical and civic history of the City of Phoenix and the State of Arizona. Organized in November, 1929, the Orpheus Male Chorus of Phoenix (OMC)

ABSTRACT The Orpheus Male Chorus of Phoenix occupies and maintains an historical place in the musical and civic history of the City of Phoenix and the State of Arizona. Organized in November, 1929, the Orpheus Male Chorus of Phoenix (OMC) is the only performing arts organization in Phoenix that can claim eighty-one years of continuous performance. The chorus gained popularity locally, nationally, and internationally in its first five decades. The breadth of the chorus's recognition began to decline in the latter part of the 20th century, but the chorus still retains a loyal following of audience members. This study focuses on the first fifty years of the OMC, especially the period from 1946 to 1979, the years the chorus was under the direction of Ralph Hess. Through his leadership the group's popularity and recognition reached a peak, thanks largely to his emphasis on civic responsibility, ties to service organizations, and musical ability and showmanship. No scholarly publications exist regarding this organization. Several boxes of memorabilia housed in the Arizona Historical Society Museum in Tempe, Arizona, serve as the primary source of material for this study. Concert programs supply information about concert repertoire, advertising, and chorus history. Newspaper articles from local and international press offer reviews, announcements, and media perceptions of the chorus. Information illustrating the abundant civic engagement of the OMC appears in proclamations and awards from local, state, national, and international personalities. This objective information helps propel the story forward, as do the personal letters and stories contained within the collection. Because many documents from the latter part of the 1970s are missing, the primary source information becomes more anecdotal and subjective. This study illustrates some of the ways in which the OMC went beyond mere survival to occupy a significant place in the musical life of Phoenix. Engagement in civic and social functions and support for non-profit organizations established the chorus as more than just a musical ensemble. Their pursuit under Hess of "Cultural Citizenship" earned them international recognition as civic leaders and ambassadors of goodwill.

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2010

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Florencia Grimaldi: Latin America's soprano heroine

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Although opera is the last musical genre one typically associates with Latin America, Mexican composer Daniel Catán (1949-2011) found surprising success across the United States and overseas with his opera Florencia en el Amazonas (1996). Catán blends colorful music with

Although opera is the last musical genre one typically associates with Latin America, Mexican composer Daniel Catán (1949-2011) found surprising success across the United States and overseas with his opera Florencia en el Amazonas (1996). Catán blends colorful music with literary elements to create a representation of Latin American culture through language, drama, scenery, and music. Among these elements is realism mágico (magical realism), a significant characteristic of Latin American literature. Indeed, the plot of the opera is influenced by Gabriel García Márquez's novel, El amor en los tiempos del cólera (Love in the Time of Cholera, 1985), as well as the poem "Mariposa de obsidiana" (Obsidian Butterfly, 1951) and the short story "La hija de Rappaccini" (Rappaccini's Daughter, 1953), both by Octavio Paz. To create his protagonist in the opera, Florencia Grimaldi, Catán combines the dramatic qualities of several European soprano heroines. This figure's character development is conveyed largely through her Act I, Scene 2, aria, "Florencia Grimaldi," and her Act II, Scene 17, aria, "Escúchame." An overview of the opera places these two arias into context, and their musical content and text-setting are closely examined in relation to the character of Florencia. Finally, how Daniel Catán creates a soprano heroine from the Latin American perspective is discussed.

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2013

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Transforming Oratorio into Opera: The Conversion of James DeMars's Guadalupe, 2006-2015

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In 2006, composer James DeMars conceived of an opera when he began setting the Aztec legend known as Nican Mopohua, the “legend of Guadalupe.” Many inherent challenges arose as DeMars began to compose his first opera. His unfamiliarity with operatic

In 2006, composer James DeMars conceived of an opera when he began setting the Aztec legend known as Nican Mopohua, the “legend of Guadalupe.” Many inherent challenges arose as DeMars began to compose his first opera. His unfamiliarity with operatic writing and production, a preference for the aural elements of opera over visual ones, inexperience with dramatic textual writing, and insecurity in his ability to have it produced, encouraged him to detour from his operatic vision altogether and instead write an oratorio. Yet, his original operatic concept revealed itself through the music and text enough to encourage him and others to believe that his oratorio, Guadalupe: Our Lady of the Roses, could be produced on the operatic stage. Despite the oratorio’s success, DeMars persisted in realizing his original operatic vision and began the arduous task of rewriting his opera in 2012. To overcome the challenges, he relied heavily on the input of an “Operatic Advisory Council.” This group of dedicated colleagues and experts in the field of opera revealed to DeMars certain essential elements of opera that were absent from the oratorio, and through the course of three years advised and instructed the composer as he transformed his oratorio into an opera – something rarely attempted in the operatic repertoire. In this document, Chapter 1 discusses the formation of the Council, its members, and the expertise they offered. Chapter 2 presents the areas of concern the Council had during the process. Chapter 3 discusses the methods by which DeMars rectified the flaws in the oratorio’s visual aspects, the vocal writing, and the dramatic elements that needed attention. It also presents musical and textual examples of the adjustments and additions DeMars made during the transition, and discusses their effect on the opera’s staging, vocal writing and drama. The changes DeMars made under the guidance of the Operatic Advisory Council ultimately resulted in an operatic version of Guadalupe, which premiered at Arizona State University in November 2015.

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2018