City Weekly – Intimate Opera


There is, perhaps, a misconception about the way opera might fit in a world of smaller audience sizes and smaller productions—one based on a very limited span of the art form’s history. According to James Lowe, musical arranger for Utah Opera’s upcoming joint production of The Human Voice and Gentleman’s Island, “Opera, if you look back, it’s really only the 19th century that it became this thing where we associate with big orchestras, elephants, and so on. It started out small, and returned small. There’s something to me, as a musician, to being more intimate, more direct.”

By necessity in this very unique time, Utah Opera is indeed getting more intimate and more direct as it returns to the Capitol Theatre. The Human Voice, Francis Poulenc’s adaptation of Jean Cocteau’s one-actor play about a woman’s phone conversation with her ex-lover, and Gentleman’s Island, Joseph Horovitz’s 1958 comedy about two English gentleman stranded together but separated by their observance of strict etiquette rules, both offer stories rich in themes of isolation that also work for the safety protocols necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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