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Soprano Voigt, actor Rhys-Davies join Mormon Tabernacle Choir for Christmas

Published October 8, 2013 8:49 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has booked its Christmas dates: Soprano Deborah Voigt and actor John Rhys-Davies.

The choir announced today that Voigt and Rhys-Davies would take leading roles in the annual Christmas concerts, set for Dec. 12, 13 and 14 at the LDS Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City.

Voigt, an American, recently appeared on PBS' "Great Performances," portraying Brunnhilde in the Metropolitan Opera's production of Wagner's "Ring" cycle. Wagner and Richard Strauss are high in her repertoire, and she's portrayed some of the great Italian opera heroines.

Rhys-Davies is best known for his roles in major action-adventure movies. He played Sallah, the Egyptian excavator and sidekick to Indiana Jones, in "Raiders of the Lost Ark." And he portrayed the combative dwarf Gimli, one of the nine in the Fellowship of the Ring, in Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

Tickets for the performances (and the special "Music and the Spoken Word" broadcast on Sunday, Dec. 15) are free, but are given out through a lottery. Those seeking tickets must registar on the LDS Church's events website, starting Saturday, Oct. 12, just after midnight, and running through Monday, Oct. 21. (For details, go to the events website.)

Free tickets for these concerts and the Music and the Spoken Word broadcast are required. Because of very high demand for tickets to this event, tickets are distributed through a random selection process.

Those interested may register on the Internet at http://www.lds.org/events for the opportunity to receive tickets from Saturday, 12 October 2013, at 12:01 a.m. through Monday, 21 October 2013 at 11:59 p.m. Those without Internet access may register over the phone at 801-570-0080 (local) or at 1-866-537-8457. All registrations received during those 10 days will have equal chances at receiving tickets in the random selection process.

Not all registrations will be selected to receive tickets, and only one registration per household can be accepted. The maximum number of tickets that a household may request is four. Tickets will be mailed to those selected shortly after the registration process closes. Patrons not selected to receive tickets will be notified by email.

Standby tickets for those without tickets will not be issued. However, patrons are invited to stand by for last-minute seating each evening and on Sunday morning for the Music and the Spoken Word broadcast. The standby line will form at the north gate on Temple Square

The doors of the Conference Center will open at 6:30 p.m. for the evening performances and at 8:00 a.m. for the 15 December Sunday broadcast. The length of the evening performances will be approximately 90 minutes. The broadcast and mini-concert on Sunday should last roughly an hour. Seating is limited to those 8 years of age and older. Given the increase in traffic due to other scheduled downtown holiday events, guests are asked to allow extra time for travel and parking in order to be seated at least 30 minutes before the performance begins.

Well-known American soprano Deborah Voigt and acclaimed British actor John Rhys-Davies will join the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square for their annual Christmas concerts on 12, 13, and 14December in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. The guest artists will also join the Choir and Orchestra for the weekly Music and the Spoken Word broadcast and a mini-concert the following Sunday, 15 December.

"This is going to be an unforgettable concert," said Ron Jarrett, president of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. "The talents of Deborah Voigt and John Rhys-Davies will fill our hearts with the Christmas spirit that will linger with us all season long."

Today's carefully guarded announcement was eagerly anticipated by thousands in the community who have attended the Christmas concerts for over a decade. The free performances are arguably the hottest tickets in town during the Christmas season, and this year will be no exception. "We are overwhelmed and humbled by the response of our audiences each year," said music director Mack Wilberg.

Recognized as one of the world's most versatile singers and one of music's most endearing personalities, Deborah Voigt is known as a leading dramatic soprano revered for her performances in the operas of Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss and has portrayed some of the great heroines in Italian opera. She is equally at home with the music of Broadway and America. She recently starred as Brünnhilde in the PBS series Great Performances from the Metin Wagner's Ring cycle. Ms. Voigt was the gold medal winner in Moscow's Tchaikovsky Competition and won first prize at Philadelphia's Luciano Pavarotti Vocal Competition.

Celebrated British actor John Rhys-Davies is probably best known to film audiences for his roles as the dwarf Gimli in The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the charismatic Arab excavator Sallah in the Indiana Jones films. His television credits include Shogun and War and Remembrance. Raised in England, Africa, and Wales, he credits his early exposure to classical literature for his decision to pursue acting and writing.

The Grammy Award-winning, all volunteer Mormon Tabernacle Choir is made up of 360 men and women who join their talents to create their trademark, instantly recognizable sound. They are accompanied by the Orchestra at Temple Square, a 150-member symphony that is likewise all-volunteer. Their world-famous sound is under the direction of music director Mack Wilberg and associate music director Ryan Murphy. The Choir has appeared at 13 world's fairs and expositions, performed at six U.S. presidential inaugurals, and sung for numerous worldwide telecasts and special events — all this while broadcasting Music and the Spoken Word, the oldest continuing radio network broadcast, a tradition now in its 85th year.