Ted Simons: Imagine combining your favorite kinds of music and spoken words to create a new art form. That's what two Arizona based opera singers have done. They even trademarked a new word to describe it. Reporter Lori Allen and photographer Steve Snow tell us more about jazzoperetry.
Lori Allen: At the Arizona Opera Center, beautiful sounds emanate from Earl Hazell.
Lori Allen: Hazell and his wife Alexis are members of the company here.
Lori Allen: In their spare time Alexis and Earl are entrepreneurial artists working to sell a new kind of entertainment that combines opera, jazz and poetry, or jazzoperetry.
Earl Hazell: The idea was basically in me. I couldn't figure out how to coalesce all the various influences that I have had over my artistic life. Growing up with jazz and discovering opera, like I mentioned. My father was also an amateur poet, and his exposure to me of the black arts movement in New York, with Amiri Baraka and (unintelligible name), some magnificent poets at the time, touched my soul in ways that have never left me.
Lori Allen: So when he would write poems on opera tours, friends urged Earl to take the next step.
Earl Hazell: I thought it's possible for me to combine the three things that I love the most artistically.
Lori Allen: When Alexis was introduced to the concept it was as if Earl put a name on the very dream she had always had.
Alexis Hazell: If you look back to my high school yearbook one of my quotes that was actually one of my goals was to open the hearts of people to jazz and opera. And I think I can't believe that I have met this man who has this vision of putting the two of them together. This is something that I have always not had a word for but wanted to be able to do both of these things.
Lori Allen: So jazzoperetry might be a jazz standard, sung classically.
Lori Allen: Or an opera aria with a jazz progression.
Earl Hazell: There's always that little five-year-old in me that wants to say I hope you like it, I hope you like it.
Alexis Hazell: I thought, good grief, this is amazing. People are going to eat this up. That fly really liked it too.
Lori Allen: The Hazells say Arizona audiences have been receptive to jazzoperetry.
Earl Hazell: We come out and we do what we love to do, and we say how was that? Five minutes after standing ovation is over, then we’ve got all these new friends.
Alexis Hazell: Arizona is a great place to start new things. So me being here to do my doctorate just happened to have us be here, but it turns out to be a really great place to get our own artistic endeavors going. It's a really great incubator state.
Ted Simons: To find out more about this innovative couple and for details on their next performance check out their website at jazzoperetry.com.