Phoenix Magazine began chronicling Arizona Opera's historic adaptation of Zane Grey's Riders of the Purple Sage in the autumn of 2015. In our final installment, we check in with the conductor, cast and costumers as the Southwest's first homegrown opera preps for its premiere this month.
Phoenix Symphony Hall can be an intimidating place. Blonde wood walls curl out into a cavernous auditorium. They stretch around a small city of Sedona-red seats that preside in judgment over a dark, empty stage that defies you to fill it.
Then, Keitaro Harada does.
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.
Or as composer Craig Bohmler puts it: "Isn't this fun?"