24th annual opera season opens with Utah premiere of Puccini’s Trilogy

When the 2016 season of the Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre opens on Wednesday, July 6 in the Ellen Eccles Theatre, it will be the largest company of artists, instrumentalists, designers, directors and conductors in the company’s 24 year history.

General Operations Manager Gary Griffin says in addition to the four mainstage productions at the theater, performances of the Broadway musical Peter Pan will be offered this year at the newly-renovated Utah Theatre.

Griffin says there will also be more than 160 different activities including classes, concerts and special performances.

The season will open with the Utah premiere of Puccini’s Trilogy, which is actually three one-act operas. Griffin says this is the Utah premiere of Puccini’s last completed work.

“They’ve seldom performed together. The first is called <em>Il Tabarro</em>, or The Cloak,” Griffin explains. “It is kind of a love triangle story that ends very badly, as most operas do. The second is a very touching story about a young girl who gets in trouble, her family sends her to a convent and makes her become a nun. The opera is called <em>Suor Angelica</em>.”

He says the final act is <em>Gianni Schicchi</em>, a comic view of managing the last will and testament of a character who dies as the curtain rises. Utah Festival’s founding director Michael Ballam will reprise the title role.

Another special performance that is scheduled this season is Pioneers and Patriots. Griffin says that comes up on July 23rd.

“We’re going to do another John Philip Sousa concert,” says Griffin. “Our friend James Michael Bankhead, who was the director of the Air Force Band for many, many years, is going to put together a 42 piece band.

“It will be on stage. He will be conducting the music of John Phillip Souza. We did this two years ago and it was a big hit. So we’re going to do yet another with new Sousa songs that we didn’t do last time.”

Among the other special programs this year is a tribute to Cole Porter on July 27 which will feature highlights from his legendary career. Griffin says Ballam appears in two of the performances this year.

He says season or individual tickets are available at the Dansante and at the Ellen Eccles Theatre where all of the mainstage productions will be presented.

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