Utah Opera to Present Cabaret-Style FATAL SONG, 11/14-17
What Salt Lake Acting Company Resident Playwright Kathleen Cahill imagines what would happen if some of the most famous opera heroines met in an alternative theatrical universe to beg the question: must the diva always die in the end? Her witty and irreverent Fatal Song, where our favorite characters attempt to confront their shared musical mortality by staring death in the face and singing "No!"
Directed by Jim Christian, music professor at Weber State, and featuring Utah sopranos Jennifer Welch-Babidge and Celena Shafer, Fatal Song presents some of the most talented personalities in the state's performing arts scene.
Fatal Song was conceived by author and playwright Cahill's desire to learn more about opera. The 90-minute work was originally commissioned by Leon Major, Artistic Director of the Maryland Opera Studio, for the Women in Opera Conference the University of Maryland. The Conference was attended by performers, producers, musicologists and died-in-the-wool opera fans.
What came of that journey is the satirical, comedic look at operatic conventions as viewed by the ill-fated heroines Mimi, Violetta, Lucia - to name a few, who rail against their abusive treatment (and in most cases early deaths!) by composers Mozart, Verdi, Puccini and the like. A delightful inter-weaving of opera plots takes us on a journey of well-loved, beautiful arias and duets; with some hilarious liberties - including a 'coughing duet' with Mimi and Violetta as a way of poking fun of their tragic fate.
Designed as a unique way to welcome new audiences to the opera house, Fatal Song has enjoyed success with novices and veterans alike. Whether you know every note by heart or are hearing the music for the first time, this experience will feature the greatest melodies ever written and allow you to see the tragic women who must sing them - unto death every night - in a whole new way. Trust us, it's ok to laugh this time!
Add dinner to your night at the opera! For only $20 Utah Opera is offering two themed dinners, one Spanish ("The Carmen") and one French ("The Mimi"), to all performances. Call the Ticket Office at 801-533-NOTE (6683) and order today.
Utah Opera Artistic Director Christopher McBeth will hold a Q&A session, free of charge, immediately following each performance on stage at the Rose Wagner with Librettist and other cast members.
General Admission seats start at only $35. Cabaret tables start at $50. Buy your tickets today at utahopera.org or by calling 801-355-ARTS (2787). Season subscribers can purchase discounted tickets by contacting (801) 533-6683. Those desiring group discounts should call (801) 869-9046. All ticket prices are subject to change and availability, and will increase $5 when purchased on the day of the performance.
Utah Opera presents
Kathleen Cahill's 'Fatal Song'
Jeanné Rose Wagner Theatre, 138 West 300 South, Salt Lake City, Utah
Thursday, November 14, 2013, 7:30 PM to Saturday, November 16, 2013, 7:30 PM
Sunday, November 17, 2013, 4 PM
Written by Kathleen Cahill
Jerry Steichen, Conductor
Jim Christian, Director
Megan Phillips Cash, Soprano
Kirsten Gunlogson, Soprano
Amy Owens, Soprano
Celena Shafer, Soprano
Jennifer Welch-Babidge, Soprano
Christopher Clayton, Baritone
Tyson Miller, Tenor
SYNOPSIS (By Kathleen Cahill): Mimi died in the car on the way to my grandmother's house. I was sitting in the front seat next to Rocko, who worked with my father. On the radio, we were listening to the Texaco Opera Broadcast of La Bohème from the Met. Rocko was telling me the story, and it was so sad and so beautiful at the same time that it made me cry. Violetta died the same winter, and so did Carmen.
Rocko and I listened to the radio and he told me the stories of the operas with tears running down his face. It was because of those afternoons with Rocko that I went to graduate school to learn how to write librettos and the books to musicals. (I like to say I have a master's degree in show tunes.) A few years after I graduated, I was commissioned by the director of the Maryland Opera Studio, Leon Major, to write something for his voice students which could be performed at an upcoming conference on "Opera and Its Heroines and Divas." He bought me a copy of Kobbe's Opera Guide, a hefty tome of over 1400 pages of small type. "This should fill you in," he said.
With the Guide under my arm, I took up residence in the music library at the local college where I listened to over thirty operas. I emerged buzzy, dizzy, and instead of being moved, I was annoyed with the librettists who kept killing off the heroines. Only Mozart's librettist, Lorenzo Da Ponte -- who, after working with Wolfgang, left Europe for New York City where he sold fish on the lower east side ---didn't rely on female death to inspire the composer. But for librettists who worked with Puccini, Massenet, Donizetti, Verdi and Bizet (among others) a beautiful, impassioned, thwarted, and emotionally off-balance female whose greatest moment is her last breath, was a staple of their plot.
Was this because so many women died in childbirth in the 19th century? Because female sacrifice was a cultural value? Because composers like to write music for sopranos? After listening to so much opera in such a short amount of time, I began to imagine what would happen if all these doomed females got together back stage and started to figure out what was going on. For a start, they might ask "Who's responsible for the death of all these wonderful women?" A movie called Fatal Attraction was a hit at this time. It's about a beautiful, impassioned, thwarted and emotionally off-balance female who dies in the end. The movie inspired my title. But I owe a debt of gratitude to those 19th century librettists. They inspired me to write FATAL SONG.
Jennifer Welch-Babidge Depina, Mimi, Pamina
Megan Philllips Cash Violetta, Desdamona, The Countess Rosina
Kirsten Gunlogson Carmen, Manon Lescaut, Giulietta, Dorabella
Amy Owens* Susanna, Cunegonde, The Queen of the Night
Tyson Miller* Des Grieux
Celena Shafer Lucia, Manon, Olympia, Fiordiligi
Christopher Clayton Master of Ceremonies/Count Almaviva
* Utah Opera Resident Ensemble Artist
Director Jim Christian
Conductor Jerry Steichen