“Bohmler’s cinematic score also has a very contemporary energy, with flashing violins of the sort that build excitement in the latest “Star Wars” flick. This engaging production is built on sturdy bones: iconic hero-and-villain characters, a suspenseful story and a score that’s studded with soaring, hummable melodies...”
— The Republic
Riders composer Craig Bohmler explores the origins of the opera's source material in Zane Grey's cabin (Photo courtesy of Quantum Leap Productions)

Riders composer Craig Bohmler explores the origins of the opera's source material in Zane Grey's cabin (Photo courtesy of Quantum Leap Productions)

DOCUMENTARY FILM

RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE:
THE MAKING OF A WESTERN OPERA

Opera’s hallowed traditions and America’s cowboy culture converge in a documentary film that celebrates the collaborative power of art. Riders of the Purple Sage: The Making of a Western Opera follows Zane Grey’s classic Western novel as it is re-imagined as a Grand Opera. Can the rugged American West fit in the genre of Verdi and Mozart? A challenge between the composer and his lyricist quickly expands into a creative posse of musical, visual, and digital artists as the fully orchestrated opera emerges from the page. From Arizona’s windswept desert canyons that inspired both Zane Grey and fine art painter Ed Mell, to onstage at Phoenix Symphony Hall, where scores, story, and performances are meticulously aligned, Riders of the Purple Sage: The Making of a Western Opera captures the process of making a legend stand up and sing.

 

RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE: THE MAKING OF A WESTERN OPERA (56 mins) will be available for worldwide broadcast and distribution in 2019. Executive Producers Billie Jo & Judd Herberger, Director/Producer Kristin Atwell Ford, Produced by Quantum Leap Productions in association with Arizona Opera. To learn more, visit www.RidersOperaFilm.com.

 

An opera as monumental and well-crafted as Riders of the Purple Sage can now lay claim to a rightful place in the canon of works about the American West. With marvelous lyricism, Riders is literally and figuratively blazing new trails, demonstrating the relevance and value of the age old genre in a dynamic and memorable production that resonates with authenticity in the voices of a superb cast. The story weaves to a climactic finale that merited the unequivocal standing ovation.
— Broadway World

TV PROGRAM

RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE:
PRESENTED by ARIZONA OPERA

Unprecedented in its regional authenticity, Riders of the Purple Sage tells a powerful story of strength and redemption through love, loss, and breathtaking adventure across the sweeping vistas of the American Southwest. Arizona Opera's electrifying premiere is a soaring adaptation of Zane Grey’s classic story.

In Riders of the Purple Sage, devout Mormon rancher Jane Withersteen struggles to resist the advances of her churchman Elder Tull and defends her riders, her land, and her sovereignty with the help of a mysterious gunman, Lassiter. The television program of the opera features the original cast with soprano Karin Wolverton as the fiercely independent heroine Jane Withersteen and baritone Morgan Smith as the gunslinger Lassiter, with tenor Joshua Dennis as ranch hand Bern Venters, soprano Amanda Opuszynski as Bess, baritone Keith Phares as Elder Tull, and bass-baritone Kristopher Irmiter as Bishop Dyer.

RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE: PRESENTED BY ARIZONA OPERA (150 mins, Acts I, II & III) will be available for broadcast in 2018. Produced by Quantum Leap Productions in association with Arizona Opera. For more information contact Producer Kristin Atwell Ford.