Utah Opera Announces 2017-2018 Season For 40th Anniversary

Utah Opera Announces 2017-2018 Season For 40th Anniversary

Utah Opera Artistic Director Christopher McBeth today announced Utah Opera's 2017-18 season in recognition of the company's 40th anniversary. From September 2017 to May 2018, Utah Opera will present four main-stage productions, a gala featuring soprano Renée Fleming, and numerous community collaborations that celebrate the role of the company in cultivating opera audiences in Utah, a tradition established by founder Glade Peterson.

Utah Opera's 40th anniversary season opens in October 2017 with Puccini's beloved "La bohème," the first opera produced by the company in January 1978 during its inaugural season. In January 2018, the company presents the Utah debut of American composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer's "Moby-Dick," featuring new costumes and sets constructed at Utah Opera's Production Studios in Salt Lake City. The season continues in March 2018 with a double-bill of Leoncavallo's "Pagliacci" and Puccini's "Gianni Schicchi" that pair tragedy and comedy with all-new sets constructed in house by Utah Opera. A production of 'Waltz King' Johann Strauss, Jr.'s "Die Fledermaus" concludes the season in May 2018, capping off the season-long 40th anniversary celebration with the opera's closing "Champagne Song." All four productions will be staged at the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre, and feature five performances each.

"It is with excited anticipation that we at Utah Opera look forward to celebrating 40 fantastic years with our audience. The anniversary season will acknowledge the legacy established by the company's founder, Glade Peterson, as well as anticipate the future of opera in Utah," said Utah Opera Artistic Director Christopher McBeth. "We will celebrate all aspects of Utah Opera including our state-of-the-art Production Studios and in-house local artisans, our phenomenal statewide education and outreach programs, and - most importantly - our community and supporters. This will truly be a season to remember."

In recognition of the opera's milestone anniversary, Utah Opera and its artists will kick off celebrations on September 1 with 40 Days of Opera, which will count down the 40 days till the first season production with an opera event per day at locations throughout the Salt Lake region. The company will partner with a variety of organizations to bring pop-up performances and other events to Utahns in their communities, whether at public buildings, outdoor festivals, sporting events, or other venues. Utah Opera's extensive outreach programs in schools statewide will also be included as part of the festivities.

A gala fundraiser at Abravanel Hall on September 13 will feature world-renowned soprano Renée Fleming, who will perform with the Utah Opera Chorus and the Utah Symphony led by Music Director Thierry Fischer. The program will include Richard Strauss's Four Last Songs, among other works, and the concert proceeds will help support the Utah Symphony | Utah Opera education department, which annually introduces more than 140,000 of Utah's school aged children to opera through Resident Artist presentations, as well as to orchestral music through Utah Symphony concerts at schools throughout the state.

"I'm proud to be a part of Utah Opera's 40th anniversary season celebrations. It is an ideal opportunity to look back and pay homage to the legacy of founder Glade Peterson, and at the same time to look toward the future with new productions such as the Utah premiere of the 21st century's most popular opera to date, 'Moby-Dick'," said Utah Symphony | Utah Opera President and CEO Paul Meecham. "Of all art forms, perhaps it is opera, with its theatrical blend of song and words, that has the most potential to express emotions in vivid, affecting colors. The collaboration of the artists assembled for Utah Opera's 2017-18 season promises to realize spectacular live experiences for our audiences worthy of an anniversary celebration."

UTAH OPERA'S 2017-18 SEASON

"La bohème"

Utah Opera opens its 40th anniversary season in October 2017 with the opera that launched the company in January 1978, Puccini's "La bohème." The opera was last performed by the company in October 2010, and the 2017 production will mark its seventh appearance on the Utah Opera stage. Puccini's classic depicts struggling bohemians navigating love, life and death in turn-of-the-century Paris.

Soprano Nicole Heaston, who made her Utah Opera debut as Countess Rosina Almaviva in the May 2016 production of "The Marriage of Figaro," returns to Utah Opera to sing the role of Mimì. The cast also includes baritone Michael Adams, one of Opera News' "25 Rising Stars," who sings Marcello, a role he debuted in 2016 at the Grand Théâtre de Genève, Scott Quinn, who recently debuted with Seattle and San Francisco operas, as Rodolfo, a role he has sung with Minnesota Opera, and Celena Shafer, a native Utahn and favorite of Utah Opera and Utah Symphony audiences alike, as Musetta.

Long-time Utah Opera guest conductor Robert Tweten returns after his most recent appearance leading the orchestra in October 2016's "Carmen." Directing the production is Kathleen Clawson, who made her Utah Opera mainstage directorial debut in October 2015 with "Tosca" and has also directed productions for the Santa Fe and Dayton Operas.

"Moby-Dick"

Utah Opera presents the company premiere and new Utah Opera production of the award-winning opera "Moby-Dick" by American composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer at the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre in January 2018. An adaptation of the classic novel by Herman Melville, "Moby-Dick" was co-commissioned by Dallas Opera and four other opera companies and, since its premiere in April 2010, has become one of the most successful operas of the new millennium. The new Utah Opera production, co-produced with Pittsburgh Opera, will reimagine the opera's storytelling arc, featuring a versatile set designed to adapt to a wide range of theater stages, making it possible for more companies to undertake this important 21st century opera.

Lyric tenor Joshua Dennis, who in the 2016-17 season creates the role of Bern Venters in Arizona Opera's world premiere of Craig Bohmler's "Riders of the Purple Sage," appears as Greenhorn. Canadian tenor and celebrated interpreter of contemporary music Roger Honeywell, who sang the role of Casey in Utah Opera's 2007 Western U.S. premiere of "The Grapes of Wrath," returns to Utah Opera in the role of Captain Ahab. Frequent Utah Opera guest artist baritone David Adam Moore, who has created roles for some of today's most significant living composers, including Thomas Adès, Peter Eötvös and David T. Little - returns to the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre stage as Starbuck. Joseph Mechavich, having previously conducted San Diego Opera's 2012 West Coast premiere of "Moby-Dick," and Utah Opera's 2008 production of "Madame Butterfly," conducts.

Stage Director Kristine McIntyre brings to the production her expertise in directing new, contemporary, and American works, including Jake Heggie's "Dead Man Walking" and "The End of the Affair," as well as a Utah Opera production of Carlisle Floyd's "Of Mice and Men," among other operas. Costumes by Jessica Jahn, who last designed costumes for Utah Opera's October 2012 "Il Trovatore," and sets by Erhard Rom, who has designed settings for over 200 productions across the globe and whose design work has been displayed in the Prague Quadrennial International Design Exhibition and at the National Opera Center in Manhattan, will be constructed at the Utah Opera Production Studios by local Utah artisans. Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company Artistic Director Daniel Charon, who was last involved in the company's March 2016 staging of "A?da," fills out the design team to inject drama and dance to the production, similar to his collaboration with Ms. McIntyre for Utah Opera's acclaimed 2015 production of "The Pearl Fishers."

"Pagliacci" / "Gianni Schicchi"

In March 2018, Utah Opera will present a double bill of two Italian verismo classics, Leoncavallo's tragic "Pagliacci" and Puccini's comedic "Gianni Schicchi." Leoncavallo's two-act opera is a tale of passion, infidelity and murder centered on the tortured clown Canio, while in Puccini's one-act opera tells the story of rich man's death, his secret will, and a gang of scheming heirs.

A signature role of Utah Opera founder Glade Peterson, the clown Canio in "Pagliacci," will be sung by tenor Scott Piper, a specialist in the spinto tenor repertoire who was featured in Utah Opera's previous productions of "Il Trovatore", "Madame Butterfly" (2008), and "Tosca" (2008) and has appeared with Seattle Opera and Opera Köln, among other companies. The roles of Nedda in "Pagliacci" and Lauretta in "Gianni Schicchi" will be sung by Utah native soprano Marina Costa Jackson, whose 2016-17 highlights include her debut with the Opéra de Paris and performances with Opera Köln and the Welsh National Opera. Bass-baritone Wayne Tigges, who has appeared in recent seasons with the San Francisco and Washington National operas, makes his company debut performing both Tonio in "Pagliacci" and the title role in "Gianni Schicchi." Conductor Joseph Colaneri, Music Director of Glimmerglass Opera Festival, makes his Utah Opera debut leading the cast and Utah Symphony musicians.

Both operas will be staged by veteran Utah Opera director Tara Faircloth, who has also directed productions for Arizona Opera, Houston Grand Opera, and Wolf Trap Opera, among other companies. Ms. Faircloth staged two world premieres for Houston Grand Opera, Franghiz Alizadeh's "Your Name Means the Sea" and Gregory Spears' "The Bricklayer."

"Die Fledermaus"

The May 2018 production of Johann Strauss Jr.'s "Die Fledermaus" ends Utah Opera's 40th anniversary season on a celebratory note, with lavish costumes, a plot centered on a masked Viennese ball, and the "Champagne Song" finale. This will mark the third time the company has presented Strauss' comedy, which was last seen at the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre in March 2003. GRAMMY-award winning baritone Daniel Belcher, appearing in Utah Opera in Jeremy Howard Beck's contemporary opera "The Long Walk" in the 2016-17 season, sings the role of Eisenstein, with baritone Troy Cook, who appears with Atlanta and San Diego Operas in 2016-17, as Dr. Falke; soprano Sara Gartland, whose recent seasons include performances with the Dallas and San Diego Operas, as Rosalinde; and soprano Abigail Rethwisch, the Santa Fe Opera's Apprentice Artist for the upcoming season, as Adele.

The orchestra and singers will be led by long-time Utah Opera conductor Gary Thor Wedow, who most recently led the company's May 2016 production of "The Marriage of Figaro" and March 2017 "Lucia di Lammermoor." He is also known for his work with Seattle Opera and New York City Opera, including the New York premiere of Telemann's "Orpheus" and Christopher Alden productions of "Don Giovanni." This lavish costumed spectacle features a cast of outrageous characters - and even a bat costume - in a recipe for the ultimate party opera. Stage Director Kyle Lang, who previously worked as assistant director for the January 2017 production of "Man of La Mancha" and January 2016 production of "The Merry Widow," makes his directorial debut with Utah Opera.