Soprano Joélle Harvey, the embodiment of virtue as Anne Trulove, sang with clarity and sensitivity. She commanded the stage in the stunning scene in which Anne sets off to rescue Tom, but was even more compelling in the quietly heartbreaking scene in which she bids him farewell for good. Baritone Mark Schnaible brought strong musicianship and twisted humor to the role of the devilish Nick Shadow. And mezzo Jill Grove all but stole the show with her bold, sassy and ultimately warm-hearted portrayal of the bearded lady, Baba the Turk. Baba has some of the most wildly virtuosic music in the opera, and Grove sang it with irresistible panache.
Tenor Tyson Miller, a delightful comedian, made a strong impression in his brief turn as the wacky auctioneer Sellem. Also giving solid performances were Branch Fields as Father Trulove, Alissa Anderson as Mother Goose and William Tvrdik as the Keeper of the Madhouse. Caleb Harris' Utah Opera Chorus gave energetic, vivid portrayals of the employees and patrons of Mother Goose's brothel, the enthusiastic auction attendees and the asylum inmates.
Utah Symphony music director Thierry Fischer could scarcely have chosen a better vehicle for his Utah Opera debut. Stravinsky's score includes some astonishingly beautiful writing for woodwinds, and the Utah Symphony musicians — sitting higher than usual for maximum impact, thanks to the new technological capabilities of the Capitol Theatre pit — played it with vibrancy. The strings and brass also shone, particularly in the gorgeous nocturnal scenes.
Roy Rallo's deft directorial touch was especially evident in the brothel scene, which he staged with as much discretion as the libretto allows.