Like the Travelocity gnome, this little horse is going to start riding the country. You can follow her at #AZlady. It’s a fun social media thing that Arizona Opera is doing to raise the roof for its opening night next season, which will be Emmerich Kálmán’s last operetta – Arizona Lady. Hungarian hottie, a passel o’suitors, great memorable tunes, mismatched lovers who turn out to be just right – sounds like pure Vienna, except it just happens to be set in Arizona around the times of the first Tucson rodeo in 1925 (first prize at that event was a 750 pound block of ice)!

I was just in Arizona for meeting about the production, which I’ll be conducting. We also have to create an orchestra score (there are parts, but no score). With our director, Matthew Ozawa, and Arizona’s Poet Laureate, Alberto Rios, I’ve created a new trilingual adaptation of the libretto. This is a real outlier of a project, but it’s also perfect. Where else should we be performing the “Arizona March” but in Arizona, with Arizonans on stage and in the pit and behind the scenes?

I also did a master class with the company’s wonderful young artists, all of whom sang beautifully and worked seriously. It was a moving day. I’ve worked with almost all of these singers before, in New Jersey or at Glimmerglass. And many years ago, I was in Arizona myself, in college, learning some of my own craft. As I walked into the company offices yesterday, who should walk out but Arlyn Brewster, the powerhouse lady who has run the District MET auditions there for years. We recognized each other right away, as though 26 years had not passed since I saw her last. I was able to congratulate that Arizona lady on her retirement. And I remembered that this desert city is still one of my homes.

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