Since 1978, Utah Opera has cultivated and entertained a growing audience of more than 150,000 annually around the intermountain area. We produce opera with artistic standards of distinction and with a fresh vibrancy - new works for our area as well as the classics.
Commitment to the contemporary vitality of opera has focused the Opera's energy into projects which animate the art form for non-traditional audiences, and broaden its conventional horizon for dedicated opera-goers. Our achievements on the modern operatic scene include the 1996 world premiere of Dreamkeepers, a major new operatic work hailed as "an incontrovertible success story" by Rodney Milnes in The Times of London (January 24, 1996), and shadow-interpreted mainstage and school productions for both hearing and hearing-impaired audiences.
Utah Opera strives to live up to its name in serving all the people of Utah, regardless of age and geographic location. Each year, the Opera performs for more than 80,000 students in Salt Lake City's Capitol Theatre, and in schools throughout Utah. This amounts to approximately 10% of all school opera audiences nationwide, according to annual surveys by OPERA America. Not only are these young people developing a greater appreciation of opera, but they will also ensure Utah Opera's audience base in the years to come.
Young people and adults alike enjoy opera more when they understand the lyrics. In 1985, Utah Opera became the youngest company in the nation to implement the innovative technique of Supertitles - the English translation of the sung language projected above the stage.
In 1978, the Opera presented its first production of Puccini's La Boheme. Founding General Director, the late Glade Peterson, refined the vocal and dramatic skills of Utah Opera artists during the initial twelve seasons. Under his leadership, the number of performances for each opera was set at five - an outstanding achievement among the majority of regional companies, which only present one to three performances of each production. New dimensions, such as symposia, lectures, concerts and educational programs, were added to enhance the public's experience of opera.
Fresh energy and artistic direction came to Utah Opera in 1991 with the appointment of General Director Anne Ewers. Ms. Ewers continued to visualize the future of opera in rising young stars including singers, composers, directors, lighting and costume designers. It is the dynamic collaboration of all these talents which produces great opera and sells tickets. The growing popularity of Utah Opera's performances prompted the company to expand in 1996-97 from a three-production to a four-production season. Then in 2002, the fiscal success of Utah Opera prompted the merging of the company with Utah Symphony, creating a new paradigm in arts administration with Ms. Ewers as President & CEO.
To contribute toward the excellence of the next performing generation, the Opera has created the two-tiered Ensemble Program, a training program for aspiring professional singers. The Ensemble Apprentice artists spend ten intensive months at Utah Opera in coaching, workshop and master class sessions, and also perform in our educational and community outreach programs. The Ensemble Studio singers, who are in residency with the Opera for five months, perform comprimario roles in the Opera's mainstage productions and star in a fully-staged touring production which travels to theaters throughout the Intermountain West each winter and spring. These Apprentice and Studio artists are selected by national audition at selected locations throughout the U.S.
The continuing artistic distinction of Utah Opera's mainstage and educational presentations was secured in the 1995 purchase of a Production Studio. For the first time in Utah Opera's history, music, education and all facets of production, including the design and construction of sets, costumes and properties, are housed under one roof. And with the expansion of this facility in 2002, production capabilities, communications, and efficiency among staff involved in these vital activities have increased exponentially, and spurred a further expansion of Utah Opera's already lucrative set and costume rental enterprises.