Utah Opera has set forth some big challenges for its 2019-2020 season: One of the toughest vocal roles in all of opera, the classics “La Traviata” and “The Barber of Seville,” and the Utah premiere of a 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winning American work.
The new season, announced Thursday, will be happening in the newly renovated Capitol Theatre. The theater at 50 S. 200 West, a former movie palace that is home to both Utah Opera and Ballet West, will close in April for a six-month renovation. When it reopens in October, the orchestra section will have more legroom, improved sight lines, a cross aisle and improved wheelchair access.
• The Capitol Theatre will open in time for Utah Opera’s season opener, Giuseppe Verdi’s “La Traviata,” which runs Oct. 12-20. Soprano Anya Matanovic, who sang Juliette in last year’s Utah Opera production of “Romeo & Juliet,” returns as the beautiful-but-ailing courtesan Violetta Valéry, whose love affair with the wealthy Alfredo (to be sung by Rafael Moras) is endangered by his status-conscious father, Giorgio (to be sung by Michael Chioldi). The production, in Italian with English supertitles projected above the stage, is directed by Garnett Bruce, and Steven White conducts.
• The Utah premiere of the 2012 opera “Silent Night” will be performed Jan. 18-26, 2020. Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell won the Pulitzer Prize for music for this story, adapted from the 2005 movie “Joyeux Noël,” about the Christmas Eve truce among German, French and Scottish troops in 1914, the first year of World War I. The lead roles will be sung by two baritones: Craig Irvin, who played Stubb in Utah Opera’s 2018 production of “Moby-Dick,” and Daniel Belcher, who performed Eisenstein in “Die Fledermaus” at Utah Opera last year. The work is sung in English, French, German, Italian and Latin (with supertitles), and is directed by Tower Zvulun, making his Utah Opera debut. Robert Tweten is the conductor.
• Next up, on March 14-22, 2020, is Gioachino Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville,” considered the greatest in the “opera buffa,” or comic opera, genre. It’s a farce, reimagined in a 1960s setting, in which a barber is pressed into service by Count Almaviva to woo the lovely Rosina away from her guardian, Dr. Bartolo, who intends to marry her himself. Baritone Michael Adams, who played Silvio in Utah Opera’s production of “Pagliacci” last year, plays the barber who sings the famous “Figaro! Figaro! Figaro!” Mezzo-soprano Sarah Coit, a former resident artist at Utah Opera, sings Rosina. Tenor Michael Grills plays the count, and bass Kevin Burdette plays the doctor. Michael Shell directs, and Gary Thor Wedow conducts.
• And the season closes with the company’s first production of Jules Massenet’s French opera “Thaïs,” May 9-17, 2020. Soprano Nicole Heaston — who played Countess Almaviva in Utah Opera’s “The Marriage of Figaro” in 2017 — will take on the title role, considered one of the toughest in opera: A courtesan in Roman-occupied Egypt who is pursued by a monk, Athanaël (to be sung by Troy Cook), who wants to convert her to Christianity. Andrea Cigni directs the lavish production, with Kenneth Montgomery conducting.
All four productions feature the Utah Symphony and the Utah Opera Chorus.
Subscription renewals and purchases will be available online starting Thursday. Current subscribers have until April 18 to renew or request seat changes, before seats are released to new subscribers and subscribers trying to change seats. Individual tickets go on sale starting June 14. Go to UtahOpera.org for details of the productions, as well as lectures and other benefits available to patrons.