Ed Mell, Arizona Opera Bring Zane Grey Novel to Life

Ed Mell's iconic landscapes, such as this depiction of the Ajo Mountains, form the backdrop for a new Arizona Opera production. | Courtesy of Arizona Opera

The Arizona Opera is about to launch a production based on an iconic Western novel — with help from legendary Arizona artist Ed Mell.

Riders of the Purple Sage, based on the 1912 Zane Grey novel of the same name, is scheduled for two performances next weekend (February 25 and 26) in Tucson, and three the following weekend (March 3-5) in Phoenix. Mell, a friend of Arizona Highways (you might remember his painting on the cover of our 90th Anniversary Issue in April 2015), designed the sets for the production.

The opera is the first world premiere produced by the Arizona Opera, and is described as a "Wild West adventure through the sweeping vistas and massive canyons of the Southwest." It's performed in English and composed by Craig Bohmler, with libretto adapted from Grey's book by Steven Mark Kohn.

The Tucson performances are February 25 at 7:30 p.m. and February 26 at 2 p.m. at Tucson Music Hall, 260 S. Church Street. In Phoenix, you can see the production March 3 and 4 at 7:30 p.m. and March 5 at 2 p.m. at Symphony Hall, 75 N. Second Street. For tickets or more information, call 520-293-4336 (Tucson) or 602-266-7464 (Phoenix), or visit www.azopera.org.

The production is part of the opera's Western Cultural Festival, which features explorations of Arizona's history, culture and art. To learn more about other events on the festival schedule, click here.

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