Utah Opera Announces 2017-18 Season in Celebration of its 40th Anniversary Featured

Upcoming season includes:

Gala fundraiser with international opera soprano Renée Fleming

Reprise of “La bohème,” the first opera produced by Utah Opera, double-bill of “Pagliacci” and “Gianni Schicchi,” and grand finale celebration with “Die Fledermaus”

The Utah debut of American contemporary opera "Moby-Dick"

New productions constructed in house at the Utah Opera Production Studios for “Moby-Dick” and double-bill of “Pagliacci” and “Gianni Schicchi”

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (February 15, 2017) — 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.”


"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.


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 “Aїda,” 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.



40 Days of Opera
Utah Opera’s 40th Anniversary Season will kick off on September 1 and into October with 40 days of community opera outreach events and collaborations in partnership with other Utah-based organizations. In appreciation of our community’s 40 years of loyal support, opera-oriented events that bring the party to the people will include pop-up performances at public buildings, outdoor festivals, sporting events, and other venues across Utah region. The company’s extensive outreach programs in Utah’s schools will also be highlighted. For a list of events, visit www.utahopera.org/40days, and to tag this celebration on social media, use #UO40days.

An Evening with Renée Fleming
On Tuesday, September 13, 2017, world-renowned soprano Renée Fleming will join the Utah Opera Chorus and the Utah Symphony under the direction of Music Director Thierry Fischer onstage at Abravanel Hall for a program featuring Richard Strauss’ “Four Last Songs.” The fundraising gala celebrates Utah Opera’s 40th Anniversary Season and will benefit the organization’s education department which brings symphony and opera outreach opportunities and access to more than 140,000 students each year.

Learn Before You Go
Utah Symphony | Utah Opera's education and community outreach department facilitates an online "learn before you go" series prior to each opera. Online learning materials are prepared by music professors at local universities including Utah Valley University, University of Utah, and Brigham Young University. They are available online at www.utahopera.org/onlinelearning.

Libretti & Libations
Utah Opera and media partner “Salt Lake Magazine” present Libretti & Libations, a promotion with Salt Lake City's and Park City's top mixologists offering craft cocktails inspired by the storyline and characters of each opera. Participants are encouraged to post photos of the craft cocktails on Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #UtahOperaSips to enter a contest to win a pair of tickets to the opera. For more details about Libretti & Libations and a complete list of participating restaurants, visit www.utahopera.org/libations.

Opera-tunities Night
Students in grades 7 through 12 can attend Utah Opera's final dress rehearsal at the Capitol Theatre through "Opera-tunities Night" for only $5. The price is the same for teachers/chaperones accompanying students. Visit www.usuoeducation.org/index.php/for-schools/opera-tunitiesfor more information.

Red Carpet Event
Opening night of each opera will feature a red carpet event where patrons can pose for a free photo. Photos will be posted on the Utah Opera Facebook page, allowing participants the chance to tag themselves during their night out on the town. Visit www.facebook.com/utahoperafor more information. The starting time of the red carpet event is 6:30 PM.

Opera Prelude Lecture
Utah Opera Principal Coach Carol Anderson will offer an Opera Prelude Lecture, free of charge for ticket holders, in the Capitol Room of the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre (50 West 200 South) one hour before curtain for each performance.

Q&A Session
Utah Opera Artistic Director Christopher McBeth will hold a Q&A session, free of charge for ticket holders, immediately following each performance in the Capitol Room of the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre (50 West 200 South).


Tickets and Subscriptions

Subscription renewals and purchases are available online at www.utahopera.org/season starting February 15, 2017. 2016-17 season subscribers have until March 30, 2017 to renew their subscriptions or request seat changes for the 2017-18 season before seats are released to new subscribers and subscribers requesting seat changes. Subscriptions may also be renewed or purchased by calling (801) 533-6683 or by visiting the Abravanel Hall Ticket Office (123 West South Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah).

To request a 2017-18 Utah Opera season brochure, please call Utah Symphony | Utah Opera Patron Services at (801) 533-6683, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or write to ATTN: USUO Patron Services, 123 West South Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah 84101.

Single tickets for the 2017-18 Utah Opera season will be available starting June 20, 2017. 

About Utah Opera

Utah Opera, established by Glade Peterson in 1978, has been part of the Utah community for 40 years and engages audiences through inspiring operatic performances. The opera company presents four annual productions at the historic Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre and participates each summer in the Deer Valley® Music Festival in Park City. In addition to producing classic works from the operatic repertoire, Utah Opera also emphasizes the importance of contemporary opera, with notable achievements including the 1996 world premiere of David Carlson’s “Dreamkeepers” and the co-commissioning and Western U.S. premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon’s “The Grapes of Wrath” in 2007.

Utah Opera operates a full production studio where productions are rehearsed and costumes, props and set pieces are designed, made, rented out and stored. The opera currently has 19 full sets and costumes for 50 full productions in its inventory. Utah Opera also offers a Resident Artist Program, a nationally recognized young artist training program for professional singers and pianists who perform for more than 70,000 students each year free of charge through the organization’s education and outreach activities. The Utah Symphony has performed as part of the Opera’s productions since the company’s founding, and the two organizations merged in 2002.

Utah Opera’s current Artistic Director, Christopher McBeth, joined the company in the fall of 2000 and took over primary artistic leadership in 2003. Under his leadership, Utah Opera productions have received acclaim for introducing audiences to the next generation of fine singing actors. Mr. McBeth strives to provide distinguished quality productions that showcase emerging and established artists, celebrate traditional works, and champion the American operatic tradition.

For more information, visit www.utahopera.org.

About Glade Peterson

Born in Fairview, Utah, in 1928, Glade Peterson was a tenor who performed with the San Francisco Opera and Houston Grand Opera, among other companies, and made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1975 singing Loge in Wagner’s “Das Rheingold.” He was a guest artist at opera houses in Paris, Milan, Hamburg, and Vienna, as well as principal tenor of the Zurich Opera for 12 years. In 1975 he returned to Utah and founded the Utah Opera as the state’s first professional opera company, serving as General Director till his death in 1990. In addition to leading the company to artistic and financial success, Mr. Peterson worked closely with former Utah Symphony Music Director Maurice Abravanel to develop educational initiatives for Utah’s school-children in collaboration with the orchestra. Outside of his work with the Utah Opera, Mr. Peterson served on the national board of OPERA America and on the opera panel of the National Endowment for the Arts.


The Utah Opera 40th Anniversary Season Sponsoris the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation.



"La bohème "
By Giacomo Puccini
October 7, 9, 11, 13 | 7:30 PM |
October 15 | 2 PM |
Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre
(Sung in Italian with English supertitles)

Conductor – Robert Tweten
Director – Kathleen Clawson
Mimì -- Nicole Heaston
Rodolfo – Scott Quinn
Musetta -- Celena Shafer
Marcello -- Michael Adams
Utah Opera Chorus
Utah Symphony

By Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer
January 20, 22, 24, 26, 2018 | 7:30 PM
January 28, 2018 | 2:00 PM
Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre
(Sung in English with English supertitles)

Conductor – Joseph Mechavich
Director – Kristine McIntyre
Set Designer – Erhard Rom
Costume Designer – Jessica Jahn
Choreographer – Daniel Charon
Greenhorn – Joshua Dennis
Captain Ahab – Roger Honeywell
Starbuck – David Adam Moore
Utah Opera Chorus
Utah Symphony

“Pagliacci" / “Gianni Schicchi”
By Ruggero Leoncavallo (“Pagliacci”)
By Giacomo Puccini (“Gianni Schicchi”)
March 10, 12, 14, 16, 2018 | 7:30 PM
March 18, 2018 | 2 PM
Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre
(Sung in Italian with English supertitles)

Conductor – Joseph Colaneri
Director – Tara Faircloth
Set Designer – Laura Fine Hawkes
Canio – Scott Piper
Nedda / Lauretta – Marina Costa Jackson
Tonio / Gianni Schicchi -- Wayne Tigges
Utah Opera Chorus
Utah Symphony

"Die Fledermaus"
By Johann Strauss Jr.
May 12, 14, 16, 18, 2018 | 7:30 PM
May 20, 2018 | 2 PM
Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre
(Sung in English with English supertitles)

Conductor – Gary Thor Wedow
Director – Kyle Lang
Eisenstein – Daniel Belcher
Dr. Falke – Troy Cook
Rosalinde – Sara Gartland
Adele – Abigail Rethwisch
Utah Opera Chorus
Utah Symphony

* Complete casting and artistic teams for our 2017-18 productions will be announced at a later date.