Utah Opera’s “Light on the Horizon” Streamed Concert Emphasizes Message of Hope and Optimism, Touches Upon Themes of Moving from Darkness to Light

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (February 9, 2021) – Utah Opera presents an evening of opera arias inspired by central themes of light and optimism in a virtual concert in two acts that is available for streaming On Demand from February 12 to March 14.

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Featuring Soprano Abby Rethwisch, Contralto Dana Beth Miller, and the Utah Opera Resident Artists, the program reflects dynamic themes that express the range of human emotions during this challenging period of the global Covid-19 pandemic, moving from darkness to light. The song selections in the first act begin with a focus on loss and promise, a longing for personal contact and connection to those we love. The second act includes repertoire such as “Midsummer Night Dream” and “Climb every Mountain,” signifying emerging from a dream into a time of promise and upliftment.

“In the midst of challenge, it is the hope for a better future that unites us as a community,” said Utah Opera Artistic Director Christopher McBeth. “In Utah Opera’s ‘Light on the Horizon,’ we look forward to the promise of these better days with highlights from the worlds of opera and musical theatre that weave together a story of darkness turning towards light.”

The production is compelling and unique: a 35-piece orchestra with celeste, harp and grand piano will accompany the singers who will be performing from a “sing island” constructed 20 feet out in the middle of the ground floor seats at Abravanel Hall.

“Light on the Horizon” replaces the original planned presentation of the 1998 contemporary opera, “Flight,” which was meant to make its Utah Opera debut onstage at the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre in January. Guest conductor Robert Tweten leads the Utah Symphony musicians in “Light on the Horizon” and is joined by University of Utah music professor Julie Wright-Costa, who directs the performance. Ms. Wright Costa is regarded as one of the country’s outstanding interpreters of operetta. In addition to her role as performer, she serves as Associate Artistic Director with The Ohio Light Opera.

Described by Opera News as conducting “brilliantly” with an “unerring sense of balance, blend, and drama,” Maestro Tweten has conducted extensively throughout North America, and this performance of “Light on the Horizon” marks his fourteenth collaboration with Utah Opera. Maestro Tweten currently holds positions of Head of Music Staff for The Santa Fe Opera, as well as Music Director of Graduate Opera Studies for the New England Conservatory of Music.

Soprano Abigail Rethwisch, a former Utah Opera Resident Artist, returns to Utah Opera for this concert of opera excerpts as she was slated to perform the Controller in “Flight.” Ms. Rethwisch stepped in on a few hours’ notice in March 2017 to sing the title role of “Lucia di Lammermoor” for the entire run of Utah Opera’s production, and returned to Utah Opera in the role of Anna Sørensen in the Pulitzer Prize winning “Silent Night” in January 2020. Hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as ”the evening’s biggest find,” and praised by both the New York Times for ”wielding a rich, substantial voice, along with a winning stage presence,” contralto Dana Beth Miller joins Utah Opera after engagements at leading opera houses around the world including the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Deutsche Oper Berlin, San Francisco Opera, Washington National Opera, Grand Théâtre de Genève, English National Opera, Seattle Opera, Dallas Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, and Cincinnati Opera, among many others.

Additional cast members include Utah Opera’s Resident Artists: soprano Julia Gershkoff, who was a featured soloist in a streamed “Messiah” with the Utah Symphony in December 2020; mezzo-soprano Edith Grossman, who was featured in select performances of “The Human Voice” in October 2020 and a streamed “Messiah” with the Utah Symphony in December 2020; tenor Daniel O’Hearn, who sang Mr. Gray in select performances of “Gentleman’s Island” in October 2020; and baritone Brandon Bell who appeared with Utah Opera as Montague Somers in “Gentleman’s Island,” the British Major in “Silent Night,” and Dr. Grenvil in “La traviata” and was a featured soloist in a streamed “Messiah” with the Utah Symphony in December 2020.

Over the past year, Utah Opera has weathered a series of unexpected changes that have impacted its ability to present live opera performances. In March 2020 in the final days of rehearsal leading up to opening night of Utah Opera’s second production of the 2019-20 season, “The Barber of Seville,” the company cancelled its five-performance run in response to the Covid-19 global lock down.

In October, the company determined that the originally-planned season opening opera, Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman,” would not be possible to execute in the fullness of its vision given the state of physical distancing and health restrictions. Instead, it presented a double bill of two short operas, Francis Poulenc’s “The Human Voice” and Joseph Horovitz’ “Gentleman’s Island” at the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre. The works were both written in 1958 and share the timely themes of isolation and the desire for human connection and contact. Ten performances took place from October 9 through October 18 for reduced capacity live audiences.

“Light on the Horizon” stream will be available On Demand from February 12 until March 14 at a cost of $10 for subscribers and $15 for non-subscribers. For more information, visit the streaming page: usuo.org/on-demand.
USUO’s 2020-21 season is funded in part by the CARES Act and the Utah State Legislature through Arts & Museums.

Patrons are invited to keep romance alive by entering a social media contest for an at-home date night complete with a free pass to “Light on the Horizon” and a grand prize including dinner from Caffé Molise, chocolate, cheese or wine tasting class at Caputo’s, local Utah artisanal chocolate sampler from A Priori, and floral arrangement from Every Blooming Thing. Enter to win before February 11 at midnight. Winner will be selected in a live drawing on February 12.

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