Arts News

Utah Festival Opera

In its 18th season, the Utah Festival Opera is one of the premier operatic events of the year. People from around the nation come to Utah and make the trek to beautiful Cache Valley to attend the fest, which is the brainchild of Michael Ballam.

This year the festival productions are Oliver!, Don Giovanni, South Pacific and Boris Godunov, along with a few other special performances. The fest runs from July 7 to Aug. 6 with performances of the four operas and musicals showing throughout the month at varied times.

Other special features will include solo performances by Ballam, a tribute to George Gershwin and the Mozart Requiem. With the exception of some of the special performances, all the showings will be at the Ellen Eccles Theater in Logan, Utah.

The festival will be larger than previous years and the performers are world-class artists, said Judith Anderson, the director of marketing and communications.

“We have performers that have been on Broadway and sang in the Metropolitan,” Anderson said. “This year’s production might be the same number of shows as previous years, but the productions are bigger and more extensive.”

The Russian Opera, Boris Godunov is rarely performed because it takes so much effort in planning and execution, Anderson said.

“The production requires a huge chorus and a large set,” she said. “It is going to be a real treat for audiences and should not be missed. You don’t have many opportunities to see this opera anywhere.”

Some of the singers attending this year’s fest are veterans of much larger stages and venues, including Branch Fields, who played her character, Emile DeBeque, on Broadway.

“It’s so special to have this world-class event in a small mountain valley town,” Anderson said. “Aside from all the performances, there are all kinds of outdoor activities available.”

The special performance section of the festival has been growing with the addition of Craig Jessop, the former director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. He’s helped bring the addition of a requiem performance for the last two years as well as some other musical performances by his choir, the American Festival Chorus.

A recent addition to the festival includes an audience-participation contest where a winner of 20 contestants will be selected by a panel of judges and voting from the audience.

“We do operas, musicals and other performances with equal intensity, seriousness and high-level of execution,” Anderson said. “The experience really is one of a kind.”

For full scheduling and pricing information, go to

Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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