Utah Opera’s 2022-23 Season Features the Best of the Operatic Art Form
Four Distinct Shows Offer Something for Everyone—Including Iconic Works by Verdi and Wagner, a Family-Friendly Comedy, and a Grammy Award Winner About Apple Icon Steve Jobs in a New Production Co-Produced by Utah Opera
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH (March 22, 2022) – Opera represents the full range of the human experience—so it is fitting that people of all ages, backgrounds, and experiences will find relevance in Utah Opera’s four productions in the 2022-23 season at Salt Lake City’s Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre. From the most recognizable works about love and loss by opera titans Wagner and Verdi, to a coming-of-age comedy that is perfect entertainment for the whole family, to the “totally user-friendly” (Los Angeles Times) tale of tech genius Steve Jobs that is immediately relatable to anyone who has used a smart device, Utah Opera delivers on its mission to connect the community through great live music.
“Opera directly reflects life’s emotions and the human condition in a way that few other art forms can,” says Utah Symphony | Utah Opera President & CEO Steve Brosvik. “With themes of romance, trust, heartbreak, family, growing up, work-life-balance, and so much more—all brought to the stage by some of today’s most gifted performers—our 2022-23 season is crafted to be meaningful and memorable for our entire community.”
It is also a season in which audiences will have the opportunity to see their fellow Utahns represented on the stage, as the Utah Opera Chorus performs in all four productions for the first time in years.
The Utah Opera Chorus and the Utah Symphony are joined by star-studded casts that will vividly bring to life the combination of passion, intensity, and dramatic rises and falls of heroes and antiheroes that is so unique to opera. “It’s a season of complexities in terms of the characters and the stories,” reflects Utah Opera Artistic Director Christopher McBeth. “It’s a little bit of something for everyone and really represents the best of our wonderful art form.”
Among the most celebrated operatic composers in history is Wagner—a name that has become synonymous with opera—making The Flying Dutchman the perfect way to open the season in October 2022. Everything about the show is oversized, from the orchestra, to the number of people on stage, to the music itself. The sounds of Wagner’s powerful score will wash over listeners, perfectly complementing the stormy and poetic tale of a ghostly sea captain who must find and trust in true love to break the spell that doomed him to sail the seas for all eternity.
After receiving rave reviews for his performance in La traviata in 2019, Michael Chioldi, one of the most sought-out dramatic baritones of his generation, returns as The Dutchman; also returning by popular demand is Utah native and Metropolitan Opera regular Wendy Bryn Harmer as Senta, The Dutchman’s long-awaited love. Andreas Hager directs a haunting 2017 production by Tomer Zvulun that updates the setting to the early 20th century (with the second act opening in an industrial sail factory) and layers multimedia projections over stark and imposing scenery.
Lightening the mood in January 2023 is Donizetti’s The Daughter of the Regiment, which Utah Opera is staging for the first time. This spunky and family-friendly comedy shares what happens when a young girl, Marie, grows up with not just one over-protective father, but a whole army regiment of them! Her adopted “dads” are firmly against her having anything to do with Tonio, the soldier she’s met from across enemy lines—and to complicate the situation further, a mysterious, aristocratic relative whisks her away to turn her into a lady and marry her off to a “proper” man.
Described as “the perfect male lead” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch), Jack Swanson plays Tonio and takes on one of the most acrobatic tenor arias of all time. Rising-star soprano Madison Leonard, based in Utah and a winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions, takes the role of Marie, and audience-favorite Matthew Burns, who played the curmudgeonly Doctor Bartolo in Utah Opera’s 2021 The Barber of Seville, returns as Sergeant Sulpice. Michael Shell, a master of comedy who directed the off-the-wall production of The Barber of Seville last year, is sure to get hearty laughs again as he directs this show about family ties, transitioning to adulthood, and fighting for love.
March 2023 brings another—albeit much darker—father-daughter story, this time taking on themes of karma and revenge. Verdi’s Rigoletto is one of his best-known and most-loved works, a tragedy about a jester who is always ready with a joke until he is cursed and learns that his own daughter is the Duke’s latest conquest. Stephanie Havey directs a traditional staging of this classic Italian opera and Joseph Colaneri conducts Verdi’s tuneful score, which at times seems to contradict the heart-wrenching plot with its buoyant melodies. As Music Director of the Glimmerglass Festival for 11 years and a frequent guest at The Metropolitan Opera, Colaneri is an expert in the music of Verdi, ensuring that audiences will experience everything the composer intended.
Scott Hendricks, with a “rich baritone and energetic stage presence” (Opera News), is renowned worldwide for his portrayal of Rigoletto, the jester who will do anything for his beloved daughter. (Little does Rigoletto know that his daughter, Gilda, sung by the dynamic and versatile Jasmine Habersham, will do anything for the man she loves.) Habersham made her Utah Opera debut playing Pip in Moby-Dick in 2018 and her career has skyrocketed since; she recently performed the role of Gilda in Europe.
The classics Rigoletto and The Flying Dutchman both present stories of curses, and The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, concluding the season in May 2023, is a modern and thoroughly accessible opera about the curse of a creative genius. Utah Opera is committed to expanding the operatic repertoire and has co-produced this new production by Tomer Zvulun together with The Atlanta Opera, Austin Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and Calgary Opera. The action unfolds how Jobs struggled with imperfections in his relationships and personal life while relentlessly dedicating himself to creating the perfect device. Faced with his mortality, Jobs re-visits moments that shaped him—from his young romance to his dramatic fall from the C-suite—and considers how he wants to be remembered, circling back with newfound understanding.
A smart and sleek take on the entrepreneur who changed our modern world forever, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs won a Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording along with three Grammy nominations, including Best Contemporary Classical Composition. The libretto is by Mark Campbell, known for his stunning work on Silent Night, with a score by Mason Bates, combining traditional and electronic instruments and sounds in a meaningful way. Screens and video images further emphasize the subject matter—technology’s omnipresence in our lives. John Moore makes his Utah Opera debut as Steve Jobs and, according to Bates, “so vividly creates the lead role that, by the end, you will be half-certain you are witnessing the man himself.”
In addition to its four mainstage productions, Utah Opera offers education opportunities and resources that reach tens of thousands of learners of all ages throughout the year. In-school programs are presented by the opera’s five resident artists—talented early-career opera singers and pianists. “Who Wants to Be an Opera Star?” uses a fun-filled gameshow format to teach elementary school students the fundamentals of opera, while “Opera 101” and “Opera Up Close” offer performances and discussions with secondary school choral students. These programs have been offered virtually throughout the pandemic, recently resuming in-person formats for some presentations. Students and their teachers are also invited to attend the final dress rehearsal before each Utah Opera production at Opera-tunities Night; and online learning courses, Ghost Light podcast episodes, and pre-opera talks help prepare audiences for what they will see and hear at the opera. Altogether, Utah Symphony | Utah Opera engages more than 155,000 students annually, leading the most extensive performing arts education program in the U.S.
PHOTO CREDIT: Ellen Appel for Fort Worth Opera