Ballam: new era for opera company

The last of almost 350 participants have arrived and founding general director Michael Ballam says he expects 2010 to be the most exciting season yet for the Utah Festival Opera Company. Ballam says the UFOC has weathered last year’s economic crisis and the stage is set to lift the curtain on an exciting new era for the opera company.On KVNU’s Crosstalk show Wednesday, Ballam said the season opens July 7 at the Ellen Eccles Theatre and runs through August 7.”The four main shows,” Ballam said, “are The Barber of Seville by Rossini, which has the famous aria about Figaro in it; La Traviata by Mr. Verdi, probably his most romantic opera; The Sound of Music; and, Guys and Dolls, Frank Lesser’s magnificent masterpiece to celebrate his 100th birthday. “In addition, we’re doing George M, the story of George M. Cohan who wrote all those tunes you know and love like Give My Regard to Broadway.”Ballam says to cap the season, the UFOC wll partner with the USU Caine School of the Arts to present the majestic oratorio “The Verdi Requiem” under the direction of the new dean of the Caine School of the Arts Craig Jessop. New programs and activities have been announced including the creation of a new Utah Festival Conservatory for the Performing Arts, an Opera for Adults organization, along with an International Operatic Competition.Ballam says the Conservatory combines musical theater, dancing, acting and singing.”We’re going to begin offering classes as the school year begins,” he said, “classes in all of those areas: stage dance, ballet, jazz, tap, singing both in an ensemble and solo singing, and acting, doing scenes. Our objective is to help young people get experience that is being cut by the schools.”Ballam says the Conservatory will be directed by his daughter Vanessa who was also recently hired by Utah State University as a liason between the Music and Theater Departments. Ballam says Vanessa is extremely qualified for the new assignments and she will also star in two of the UFOC 2010 offerings: Guys and Dolls and The Sound of Music.

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