Arizona Opera Plaza To Be Named For Beloved Local Arts Advocates Shoshana And Robert Tancer

By: Apr. 24, 2020
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In commemoration of their remarkable contributions to Arizona Opera, the company announced today that the courtyard at the Arizona Opera Center in downtown Phoenix will henceforth be known as the Shoshana B. and Robert S. Tancer Plaza.

Shoshana and Robert (Bob) Tancer moved to Phoenix 50 years ago with their four children and have become familiar faces in the community across a variety of organizations. Arizona Opera's announcement of this naming follows the passing of Bob Tancer last month, after many years of service to the company and our community. Bob was a longtime, devoted member of the Arizona Opera Board, serving in multiple leadership roles, including two terms as Board Chair, from 1999-2001 and again from 2015-2017. At the time of his passing last month, he was serving as Chair of the company's Development Committee.

Shoshana's involvement with Arizona Opera has also been very deep. She previously served as President of the Phoenix Opera League, in addition to chairing several of Arizona Opera's special events over the years. She has been an Honorary Trustee of Arizona Opera since 2015 and will continue Bob's Board legacy, having been elected to the organization's Board of Directors this week.

"Bob and Shoshana are incredibly special to Arizona Opera," said Arizona Opera President and General Director, Joseph Specter. "The naming of the Shoshana B. and Robert S. Tancer Plaza allows us the opportunity to celebrate Bob's memory, as well as Bob and Shoshana's remarkable legacy of support, advocacy, and passion for our company. It will be a joy to see the Tancer name smiling down on us at the Opera Center every day."

"Arizona Opera is so dear to us," said Shoshana Tancer. "The naming of this Plaza is an honor that neither Bob nor I could ever have imagined. I am so grateful for this recognition, and I am looking forward to serving on Arizona Opera's Board and continuing the service to which Bob gave of himself for so many years."

Bob and Shoshana's commitment to Arizona Opera and the art form over the years has been unmatched and extends to a national level through their commitment to OPERA America-the national service organization for the entire opera field-which Bob served in several capacities. "Bob was the first Chair of OPERA America's National Opera Center Board of Overseers. Following his term, he was elected to the national Board of Directors," said Marc A. Scorca, President and CEO of OPERA America. "I have treasured my friendship with Bob and Shoshana over the years and am grateful that the Tancers' contribution to our field will be celebrated with this naming."

Bob and Shoshana also served on the National Patrons Council for Opera Theatre of St. Louis (OTSL). Arizona Opera Board Member-and a founding trustee of OTSL-Roma Wittcoff commented: "The Tancers are dear friends, and have done so much to bring me, and so many others, close to Arizona Opera." Mrs. Wittcoff, who launched the Arizona Opera Endowment at the Arizona Community Foundation in 2018, continued: "Arizona Opera is an excellent organization, and I am delighted that Bob and Shoshana's names will be durably connected to the company in this way."

In addition to their involvement with Arizona Opera, the Tancers' engagement and philanthropy extends across a variety of Arizona organizations, including the Desert Botanical Garden, Barrow Neurological Foundation, Act One, Arizona State University's Friends of Jewish Studies, the Harvard Club of Phoenix, the Phoenix Symphony Association, Ballet Arizona, and Phoenix Country Day School. Both Bob and Shoshana are professors emeriti of International Studies at the Thunderbird School of Global Management, now part of Arizona State University.

"It is a joy to be able to celebrate Bob and Shoshana with the naming of the Plaza," said current Arizona Opera Board Chair, Sharon Landis. She continued, "Bob and Shoshana have done so much for our company over the years, in addition to their remarkable work across our entire community, through the arts and beyond."

A celebration of the naming of Tancer Plaza will take place on a date to be announced later this year.

For further information, please contact Tom Michel, Director of Marketing, Communications & PR at or 702-533-0075.


Arizona Opera, which recently concluded its 48th season, produces fully-staged operas, concerts, and collaborative programs throughout the state of Arizona each season, and is among only a handful of companies in the U.S. that regularly performs in more than one city. Arizona Opera elevates the transformative power of storytelling through music, cultivating community and strengthening a state and people as adventurous and diverse as the place they call home. Since its inaugural year in 1971, Arizona Opera has produced more than 175 fully-staged operas and concerts. The company's artistic history is rich with a blend of opera's traditional repertoire featuring baroque, bel canto, and verismo works, turn-of-the-century masterpieces, operettas, and contemporary operas.


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