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Go Behind the Scenes of Riders of the Purple Sage

A new documentary takes a look at the making of Arizona Opera’s Western revival.

By Rebecca L. Rhoades

In February 2017, Arizona Opera blazed new trails in the genre with the debut of its ground-breaking Western production “Riders of the Purple Sage.” Based on the 1912 Zane Grey novel of the same title, the work was a collaboration between composer Craig Bohmler and librettist Steven Mark Kohn, with set designs by renowned landscape painter and Phoenix Home & Garden Masters of the Southwest award winner Ed Mell.

Now, as the Opera prepares for a revival of the popular tale later this month, fans can get a peek into the artistry behind the oeuvre at the world premiere of “Riders of the Purple Sage: The

Making of a Western Opera.” The 75-minute documentary by Emmy award-winning filmmaker Kristin Atwell Ford and featuring Bohmler, Kohn and Mell, as well as the cast and creative team, “is a behind-the-scenes look at how a major modern opera is mounted,” says Atwell Ford. “It’s about how this story has endured for over a century, been translated into new mediums and now has literally found its voice in this grand expression of opera.”


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