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Utah Opera Stages The Airport Layover in FLIGHT by Jonathan Dove and April De Angelis

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Utah Opera's January production of the comedic opera Flight  takes on an experience that's all too familiar—an airport layover.

Utah Opera Stages The Airport Layover in FLIGHT by Jonathan Dove and April De Angelis

It's not always easy to relate personally to the storylines of classic operas-a prince is given a magic flute to protect him on a journey through a mythical land, a Roman diva must give herself to her captor or sentence her true love to death, a cursed clown's daughter sacrifices her own life to save her father. While most of us don't have real-life context for these situations, the Utah Opera's January production of the comedic opera Flight takes on an experience that's all too familiar-an airport layover.

"This is a situation a lot of us can relate to," says Utah Opera Chorus Director Michaella Calzaretta. "And chances are, you'll see yourself or someone you know reflected in the characters!"

These characters, played by a cast made up of regulars at The Metropolitan Opera as well as the Utah Opera's own 2021-22 Resident Artists, each bring their own baggage-literal and figurative-to the airport. Among them are a married couple working to save their marriage, a diplomat and his very pregnant wife, a sarcastic older woman planning to meet up with her much younger lover, flight attendants trying unsuccessfully to suppress their feelings for each other, the rigid airport controller, an immigration officer, and a refugee who has been stuck living in the airport for years. At first, the characters see each other only at surface level, but the more time they spend together at the Tri-Star Airlines gates, the more entangled they become in each other's lives-and the more hilarious their situations become.

"Not being able to go anywhere or do anything-it's humanity at its most vulnerable," says Calzaretta. Except that, in a sense, they actually do quite a lot.

"What is so fascinating abouta??Flight a??is that each of the characters undertakes a personal, spiritual journey without ever leaving the terminal," explains Kristine McIntyre, director of the production. "In the course of one long day and night, everything seems to happen to them: amnesia, birth, death, marital separation, sexual exploration, grief,a??and the discovery of their shared humanity.a??They seem to undergo the entirety of human experience in a few short, concentrated hours, rebounding from comedy to tragedy and back again."

In one of the most fun-filled moments, the terminal transforms into a boozy conga line as the passengers and employees entertain themselves. In one of the most absurd and dramatic moments the diplomat's wife gives birth right on the airport lounge chairs. And in one of the most poignant moments, the group of passengers joins in solidarity to come to the defense of the stranded refugee. A somewhat mysterious character inspired by a true story, the refugee is played by John Holiday-who rose to stardom on the 2020 season of NBC's The Voice and just recently made his Metropolitan Opera debut.

The star-studded cast performs the score together with the Utah Symphony led by conductor Robert Tweten, a longtime Utah Opera collaborator. With music by Jonathan Dove that Calzaretta describes as "delightful," an English libretto by April De Angelis filled with well-timed humor, and "witty, telling, and apt" costumes by Jonathan Knipscher, this is a perfect opera for all, from first-timers to life-long aficionados.

Written in 1998 and performed at opera companies around the world, Flight is already on its way to becoming a classic. "I can't imagine a time when this story wouldn't be relevant," says Calzaretta. "Everything you need to know about life is wrapped up in this opera-and you're guaranteed to leave the theatre smiling."

Book your Flight for the most exciting and funniest layover of your life, at the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre, January 15 through 23. Visit utahopera.org for details and tickets.


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