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A new production of Jake Heggie's "Moby-Dick" is the highlight of Utah Opera's 2017-18 season, a celebration of the company's 40th anniversary.
The season opens with "La bohème," playing Oct. 7-15 in the Capitol Theatre. The ever-popular Puccini opera was the first production staged by Utah Opera in 1978, with founder Glade Peterson starring as the poet Rodolfo. The company has produced "La bohème" five times since, most recently in 2010. This year's cast will include soprano Nicole Heaston, last seen here as Countess Almaviva in "The Marriage of Figaro," as Mimì; baritone Michael Adams as Marcello; and soprano Celena Shafer, a Utah favorite, as Musetta. Robert Tweten and Kathleen Clawson, also Utah Opera regulars, will conduct the Utah Symphony and direct the stage action. The set was created in Utah Opera's scene shop and has been rented out to companies all over the United States, but this will be its first appearance on the Capitol Theatre stage. New Utah Symphony | Utah Opera CEO Paul Meecham said he'd like the company to showcase more of its own production work.
"Moby-Dick" is the first all-new production for Utah Opera since 2007's "The Grapes of Wrath." It's a co-production with Pittsburgh Opera, with costumes by Jessica Jahn, sets by Erhard Rom and choreography by Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company artistic director Daniel Charon. The opera, with a libretto by Gene Scheer based on Herman Melville's classic novel, had its world premiere in Dallas in 2010. It will play at the Capitol Theatre Jan. 20-28. Tenor Roger Honeywell, who played Jim Casy in that 2007 production of "The Grapes of Wrath," will star as Captain Ahab, with baritone David Adam Moore as Starbuck and tenor Joshua Dennis as Greenhorn. Kristine McIntyre and Joseph Mechavic are director and conductor, respectively.
The double bill of Leoncavallo's tragedy "I Pagliacci" and Puccini's comedy "Gianni Schicchi" plays March 10-18. Jealous clown Canio, another of Peterson's signature roles, will be sung by tenor Scott Piper, a Utah Opera favorite. Baritone Wayne Tigges will do double duty as Tonio in "Pagliacci" and Schicchi in "Gianni Schicchi"; likewise, Utah soprano Marina Costa Jackson will double up as Nedda in "Pagliacci" and Lauretta in "Schicchi." Joseph Colaneri and Tara Faircloth are conductor and director. The double bill is also a new production, with sets designed by Laura Fine Hawkes.
The party opera "Die Fledermaus" closes the season May 12-20. The Johann Strauss Jr. comedy last played at the Capitol Theatre in 2003. Baritone Daniel Belcher returns to Utah Opera to sing the role of Eisenstein. Also featured are baritone Troy Cook as Eisenstein's frenemy, Dr. Falke, and sopranos Sarah Gartland and Abigail Rethwisch as Eisenstein's wife, Roselinde, and maid, Adele. Kyle Lang directs, with Gary Thor Wedow conducting.
Related celebrations include "40 Days of Opera," a series of events leading up to the season opener, and a gala with superstar soprano Renée Fleming in Abravanel Hall.