Bohmler’s suave melodies and the distinctive motives will hopefully become more familiar when we get to hear this well constructed music drama a second time. Riders is a fascinating work that deserves to be heard often.
An opera as monumental and well-crafted as Craig Bohmler's Riders of the Purple Sage can now lay claim to a rightful place in the canon of works about the American West. In its World Premiere, as part of Arizona Opera's Arizona Bold Initiative, Riders is literally and figuratively blazing new trails, demonstrating the relevance and value of the age old genre in a dynamic and memorable production.
With stunning backdrops that can be considered characters themselves, Phoenix native Ed Mell is displaying his artwork on a large scale for the first time in his career. Hand painting each backdrop, the mesas and mountains fill the stage with danger, excitement and beauty in a mixture of colors and depth. An opera telling the story of typical Arizonan life wouldn’t be complete without beautiful sunsets in the background.
If you don’t picture cowboy hats and boots when you hear the word opera, you’ve never seen Riders of the Purple Sage. It's the first opera completely developed in Arizona, and it premiered on Saturday, February 25, in Tucson. Now, it’s coming to Phoenix.
"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..."
Arizona Opera made history Saturday night with "Riders of the Purple Sage," its first world premiere of its first ever commissioned opera. It now has a seat at the big-boys' table among companies three, four times its size in opera-friendly cities like Chicago and New York.
Companies the size of Arizona, which mounts productions in Tucson and Phoenix, don't normally put themselves on the shaky limb of "new works." It's a risky, expensive venture. But at the big boys table, taking a chance is the price of admission, and on Saturday night, with some 1,400 people in the audience, Arizona Opera took that challenge with "Riders of the Purple Sage" — and it paid off.
We spoke with baritones Joshua Jeremiah and Morgan Smith, who share the role of Lassiter, the mysterious gunman who throws a wrench in the traditions of the Mormon settlement, Short Creek. They chat about great characters, new operas, & Han Solo.
We spoke with sopranos Laura Wilde and Karin Wolverton, who share the role of Jane Withersteen, the "good Mormon girl" who questions the role of the church and its traditions. They share insight on the process of bringing to life a brand new opera, and their favourite moments in Bohmler's score.
Few things in the opera world can compare to the excitement surrounding a world premiere, so the atmosphere at Arizona Opera is currently absolutely electrifying! Audience members will soon have the opportunity to witness history in the making: the first American Western opera. Riders of the Purple Sage, a new work by composer Craig Bohmler and librettist Steven Mark Kohn, takes to the stage this weekend.
Rain was pouring down for miles while composer Craig Bohmler was on a drive through the mountain region outside Phoenix. Everywhere he looked, visibility was low and he knew that due to the strong monsoon winds, staying out in this weather was probably not a wise proposition.
“Riders of the Purple Sage” is composer Craig Bohmler’s bid to create the first great American Western opera. If it is remains to be seen. But no matter what, “Riders” — based on the classic novel by Zane Grey — is a giant leap forward for Arizona Opera: the first-ever world premiere in the company’s 45-year history.
Arizona Opera is making history this weekend that will go far beyond Tucson Music Hall and Phoenix Symphony Center. The company will mount what is being billed as the first-ever Western opera, a piece the company commissioned based on Zane Grey’s seminal novel “Riders of the Purple Sage.” It is the first time in the company’s 45-year history that it has commissioned a new work and performed a world premiere.
Now Grey's most popular work – a bestselling Western novel, already fives times a film – is being re-imagined by Arizona Opera to tell the 105-year-old story, Riders of the Purple Sage, all over again. How fitting that this Western opera should be a tale with issues that still ring true to this day – women's rights fundamentalist religion, funs, the search for home. Zane would have been proud.
From Sage to Stage, Part III. With a flash of his baton, the Arizona Opera conductor summons marvelous music from the orchestra pit: grand, rollicking, and indelibly Western, it rolls out across those seats and fills the hall with a sound that proclaims Riders of the Purple Sage – an American-born opera of the American West, which will premiere this month in Arizona in front of dyed-in-the-wool opera fans and curious newcomers – has found its home.
Nearly three years ago Arizona painter Ed Mell found himself listening to a proposition he had never heard before. Arizona Opera was reworking Zane Grey’s classic Western Riders of the Purple Sage, and they wanted the famous Arizona painter to create original backgrounds for the stage. Mell jumped on board immediately, and over the course of several years created original works for the stage production, as well as the poster image and a number of other pieces.
Cowboys, sunsets and the grandeur of the American western will grace Arizona Opera this February, when the company world premieres “Riders of the Purple Sage.”Based on the classic novel by Zane Grey, the opera tells the story of the unconventional relationship between a devout Mormon and a vengeful cowboy.
In just the first few pages of Zane Grey’s classic novel, Riders of the Purple Sage, fearless gunslingers and men on horseback tear through unforgiving mountains as emotions become as extreme as their surroundings: jealousy looms like a fatal precipice, and love ignites like a brushfire. It’s a fitting opening for a story where the land and its inhabitants are inextricably linked, where every action takes its cue from the rough terrain, the lush plant life that thrives in spite of challenges, the rhythms of horse hooves and the crashing of storms. It’s also a perfect beginning for an opera.
When people talk about Arizona's "cowboy culture," the opera probably isn't what they have in mind. But that's going to change this winter when Arizona Opera unveils "Riders of the Purple Sage," based on the classic Western novel by Zane Grey.
Riders of the Purple Sage will be the first world premiere in Arizona Opera’s 45-year history. And that is a very big deal, signaling that the Phoenix-and-Tucson company has ambitions to become a leader in its field.
From Sage to Stage, Part II. The first musical moments of Riders of the Purple Sage charge out of the gate: lofty horns, pounding drums and a big, sprawling score that has you expecting The Magnificent Seven. Craig Bohmler, who composed the music for Arizona Opera's upcoming adaptation of the celebrated Zane Grey novel, says that's the idea.
'Purple Sage' world premiere tops Arizona Opera's 2016-17 season. A mark-your-calendar alert for opera buffs and fans of classic Westerns alike: Arizona Opera’s first world premiere, an adaptation of the Zane Grey novel “Riders of the Purple Sage,” tops the list of productions for the company’s just-announced 2016-17 season.
See the making of an American opera. It’s not often art lovers get to see a work in progress let alone contribute to it, but Arizona Opera gives fans the opportunity to do just that this weekend when they present the first reading of Riders of the Purple Sage — an original opera based on Zane Grey’s western novel, set on the Arizona-Utah border.
Valley composer aims to make history with Western opera. Like so many other Arizona transplants, composer Craig Bohmler fell in love with the spare beauty of the Southwestern landscape, and that love led him to his attempt to create the great American Western opera.