The main focus of the Utah Opera has always been to preserve the vitality and the core essence of the opera art form. Regardless their projects have brought together even the audience that prefer an abstract take on opera, both in singing and dance. This is perhaps because while they appreciate the simplicity and the original operas, they have managed to be innovative as well. Their 1996 take on “Dreamkeepers” is a prime example in which they produced and staged a modern opera which received acclaim all over the world. This production was choreographed in a way that every body movement and all the transitions would cater to the hearing impaired audience as well. It was the first time that such a production was seen in Utah, and thus the company’s innovation and creativity was lauded.
With this program, they achieved their second target, which was their ability to be accessible to all kinds of audiences. They wanted to enhance the culture of Utah at large. While in other places, opera tends to be reserved for the high society and the people that move within it, the Utah Opera wants to entertain everyone, no matter what their age, status or location. And so, every year, the company performs in theatres and schools all over the state. Around 80,000 students are introduced to the art form through their program. This makes up about 10% of the students in opera population all over the United States. Studies conducted by the “OPERA America” showed that these kids will not only have a deeper understanding of the theatre form, but they will also be the future audience, if not performers themselves.
The studies also found that the reason for the decline of opera was the language barrier. In the days when it was most popular, Italian was one of the more popular languages that most people of affluence learnt to speak in Europe. Even today, the predominant language of opera is Italian, but as learning the language becomes less common among the masses, the appreciation for it falters. Opera Utah has used the supertitles technique with which many famous programs are translated and performed in English such that they do not lose their meaning or their musicality. This has attracted more young audiences, proving their theory that people tend to enjoy it more when they can relate to the lyrics. Having implemented this technique in 1985, they became the youngest team ever to do so.
Ever since its inception, the Utah Opera has been fortunate to have a series of very talented leaders who have enabled it to reach the status it has today. The first production was that of “Puccini’s La Boheme”. The first director of the company was Glade Peterson who brought to the table his vast dramatic skills and vocal ability. He brought to stage one successful production after another for 12 years. Every year would feature five different seasons. While these operas would go on, different symposiums, concerts, educational lectures and interactive experiences were also made part of the company.
In 1991, a different route to artistic approach came to the company with Anne Ewers. She wanted to bring a fresh energy to the opera stage and so appointed younger singers, actors, composers and designers. It was during her time that the company joined hands with the Utah Symphony and became fiscally stable as well.
Other than being a performance based company, the Utah Opera also likes to provide opportunity to people to be on the other side. They like to share their experiences with people by allowing them to witness behind the scenes events and conducting outreach programs. With their own studios to hold tutorial classes, they are taking more of the youth in their training. For those who prefer to be on the audience end, Utah Opera tickets for the upcoming season is now available.