Utah Opera Announces 2018-19 Season
Utah Opera Artistic Director Christopher McBeth today announced Utah Opera's 2018-19 season. Featuring two new productions by the company's in-house Production Studios, Utah Opera's 41st season runs from October 2018 to May 2019 and comprises three main-stage productions at Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre and a semi-staged production at Abravanel Hall.
The 2018-19 season begins on Saturday, October 13, with a Utah Opera in-house production of Gounod's Romeo & Juliet. In January 2019, the company presents the Utah premiere of Academy Award- and Emmy Award-winning composer Rachel Portman and librettist Nicholas Wright's 2003 opera The Little Prince in a new production built by the Utah Opera Production Studios. The season continues in March 2019 with Utah Symphony Music Director Thierry Fischer leading the company in Mozart's The Magic Flute. These three productions will be staged at the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre in five performances each.
Due to renovations of the historic Capitol Theatre, Utah Opera's final production of the 2018-19 season, Bellini's tragedia lirica Norma, will be presented in May 2019 as a semi-staged opera at Abravanel Hall, home to the Utah Symphony. Norma will be performed twice in a new production by the company's Production Studios, featuring costumes designed by Project Runway finalist Bradon McDonald, projected images and video designed by Greg Emetaz, as well as lighting components.
"A great opera season features the cherished and familiar mixed with the opportunity for discovery, and Utah Opera's 2018-19 season meets these marks," said Artistic Director Christopher McBeth. "I'm thrilled to once again have Thierry Fischer at the musical helm for The Magic Flute as well as present the Bel Canto masterpiece Norma for the first time in the company's history. One presentation I am particularly excited to share with our audiences is the operatic setting of the beloved children's novel The Little Prince, composed by famed film score composer Rachel Portman. It is going to be a special season indeed!"
"Building on the homegrown success of Moby-Dick, I am very happy that we are drawing again on the skilled resources of the Opera's Production Studios to create two new productions in the 2018-19 season," said Utah Symphony | Utah Opera President and CEO Paul Meecham. "Further, we are increasing our focus on opera as a family night-out, with two operas (The Magic Flute and The Little Prince) that will have special appeal to families, and midweek evening performances now starting at 7 PM."
On November 9 and 10, Utah Opera will collaborate with the Utah Symphony in the orchestra's presentation of Leonard Bernstein's Candide in concert, conducted by Thierry Fischer and featuring the Utah Opera Chorus. These performances at Abravanel Hall continue the orchestra's Bernstein at 100 celebration that began last season in honor of the composer's birth centennial. The cast includes tenor Brenton Ryan as Candide, soprano Lauren Snouffer as Cunegonde, and baritone Hugh Russell as Pangloss.
In an initiative designed to build new audiences by encouraging families of all ages to attend symphony and opera performances together, Utah Symphony | Utah Opera lowered the age requirement from eight years to five years, and introduced a Family Pass in Winter 2017 for $30 for a family of four to attend a selection of performances. A Kids Club will launch in Spring 2018 with behind-the-scenes access and invitations to special events to further create excitement and loyalty among young people.
Romeo & Juliet
The 2018-19 Utah Opera season opens at the Capitol Theatre with Gounod's Romeo & Juliet. The role of Romeo will be sung by tenor Joshua Dennis, who debuted with Utah Opera in January 2018, singing the role of Greenhorn in the company's new production of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer's Moby-Dick. Soprano Anya Matanovi? will star as Juliet, following recent appearances with the Boston Lyric Opera, Cleveland Orchestra, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and Seattle Opera.
Conductor Robert Tweten leads the performances, following recent engagements with Kentucky Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and-for October 2017's La bohème-Utah Opera. Director Vera Calabria, whose credits include productions for Los Angeles Opera, Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, and Teatro Real, among other companies, stages this original Utah Opera production in her company debut. Scenery for this production was designed by Eric Fielding and costumes were designed by Susan Memmott Allred.
The Little Prince
In January 2019 at the Capitol Theatre, Utah Opera presents the Utah premiere and company debut of Rachel Portman and Nicholas Wright's 2003 opera The Little Prince, staged in a new in-house production. The opera is adapted from the classic 1943 children's book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry about a stranded pilot who meets a curious young prince who has fallen to Earth from a tiny asteroid. The role of the pilot will be sung by baritone Jared Bybee, whose engagements the previous season include roles at Arizona Opera and Barcelona's Gran Teatre del Liceu. A chorister from The Madeleine Choir School will sing the role of the Little Prince, and choristers from the school will comprise the opera's chorus.
Conductor James Lowe leads the orchestra, having previously conducted The Little Prince at Washington National Opera and contemporary American operas by Daniel Catan and Carlisle Floyd at Utah Opera. He has also led performances at Houston Grand Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, New York City Opera, and San Francisco Opera, among other companies. Also returning to Utah Opera is director Tara Faircloth, whose credits include two world premieres for Houston Grand Opera, as well as productions for such companies as Arizona Opera Atlanta Opera, and Wolf Trap Opera. The costumes and scenery for The Little Prince, designed by Jacob A\. Climer, will be constructed by Utah Opera's state-of-the-art Production Studios. Mr. Climer is based in Brooklyn, NY, and his work has been seen at Atlanta Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, New York Theatre Workshop, and The Public Theater, among other stages nationwide.
The Magic Flute
Conducted by Utah Symphony Music Director Thierry Fischer, Mozart's The Magic Flute returns to the Capitol Theatre in March 2019. Among the cast, soprano Zulimar López-Hernández sings the role of Pamina, having previously appeared with Utah Opera as well as Glimmerglass Opera, Nashville Opera, and Opera Santa Barbara, among other companies. The role of Tamino is sung by tenor Andrew Stenson, who has performed with such companies as the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Seattle Opera, and Washington National Opera, as well as leading orchestras, including the Cincinnati Symphony and San Francisco Symphony conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas. Baritone Joo Wan Kang, whose recent engagements include San Francisco Opera's opening-night production of Turandot, makes his Utah Opera debut in the role of Papageno, while native Utahn soprano Celena Shafer appears as the Queen of the Night, following an appearance in Utah Opera's October 2017 La bohème. The role of Monostatos is sung by tenor Joseph Gaines, recently seen as Flask in Utah Opera's January 2018 production of Moby-Dick.
Mr. Fischer returns to the Capitol Theatre orchestra pit after his Utah Opera debut conducting The Rake's Progress in May 2015. The production is directed by Paul Peers, known for his work in theater, musical theater, and opera, including Matt Marks's Mata Hari at the 2017 PROTOTYPE Festival.
The Utah Opera 2018-19 season closes with two nights at Abravanel Hall and a new production of Bellini's Norma created at the Utah Opera Production Studios. Soprano Marjorie Owens, who performed the title role in 2016 with the English National Opera, reprises Norma in her Utah Opera debut. The cast also includes tenor Chad Shelton in the role of Pollione, which he will perform for the first time in May 2018 with Houston Grand Opera.
Music director emeritus of Opera Theatre Saint Louis Stephen Lord, named by Opera News as one of the "25 Most Powerful Names in U.S. Opera," makes his Utah Opera debut conducting the Utah Symphony musicians, cast, and Utah Opera Chorus. Stage director Crystal Manich, whose recent credits include productions at Boston Lyric Opera, Buenos Aires Lírica, Pittsburgh Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and Washington National Opera, returns to lead her fourth Utah Opera production. This staging at Abravanel Hall will feature lighting components as well as image and video projections designed by Greg Emetaz, and new costumes created by designer Bradon McDonald, who formerly danced with the Mark Morris Dance Group and was a finalist on Season 12 of Project Runway.