A Tucson opera fan is kicking in $225,000 to underwrite Arizona Opera’s classics series through the company’s 50th anniversary season in 2021-22.
Arizona Opera is also bringing Matthew Polenzani, one of the country’s leading tenors, to Tucson next January as part of the 2020 Tucson Desert Song Festival.
Both moves are meant to reflect “the company’s ongoing commitment to deepening its connection with its birth city,” according to a news release.
Author Marlys A. Beider’s donation will support the Tucson performances of classical operas in the Main Stage Series, said Arizona Opera Marketing Director Carlotta Soares, who described the gift as significant. The money will be used to support only the Tucson performances, she noted.
The Main Stage Series, held at Tucson Music Hall, features two traditional or classical operas and one more contemporary, modern work. Next season, Arizona opera will mount Puccini’s “La Bohème” and Strauss’ “Ariadne auf Naxos.”
Beider, who splits her time between Tucson and Chicago and supports the arts in both cities, was born into a musical family and became a fan of opera at a young age, according to a news release.
“We are very fortunate to live in a city where opera is so vibrant and for that, we owe our thanks to Arizona Opera,” Beider said in a prepared statement. “I’m delighted to support the next three seasons of Arizona Opera’s Tucson presentations of the beloved, traditional works that are so close to my heart.”
Polenzani, who has performed leading roles in some of the world’s premier opera houses from New York’s Metropolitan Opera to Covent Garden and La Scala to his hometown Lyric Opera of Chicago, will perform on Jan. 31 at Holsclaw Hall on the University of Arizona campus. Tickets will go on sale later this summer; visit azopera.org for updates.
Arizona Opera was founded in Tucson in 1971 and is one of only a few companies nationwide to perform in more than one city. The company relocated its operations to Phoenix in 2010 as a cost-saving move that was largely opposed by Tucson donors and fans.
The company is now headquartered in the 16,800-square-foot Arizona Opera Center at 1636 N. Central Ave. in Phoenix.