Attila Ficzere, Hungarian-born former star of the San Francisco Ballet, has joined the faculty at the University of Utah as an assistant professor, and will be working on a limited basis with Ballet West.
Ficzere assisted Michael Smuin in setting last year's "Romeo and Juliet" on Ballet West. He was Mercutio in the original production choreographed for the San Francisco Ballet by Smuin in 1978 and will assist in reviving the work for Ballet West during its Aspen season and next season in Salt Lake City, following its big success as the 1988-89 season opener.Ficzere was born in Budapest, where in 1953 he entered the state dance academy associated with the Budapest State Opera. He joined the Budapest Opera Ballet in 1962, performing all major classical roles. In 1969 he defected while on tour with the company in Paris, then made his way to Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet, where he danced from 1970-73. He danced bravura roles with the San Francisco Ballet from 1973 to 1985, creating the "Don Juan" of Lew Christensen's choreography. He performed the "Romeo and Juliet" Mercutio 112 times, and created Prospero in Smuin's "The Tempest," both productions widely shown on public television.
He left SFB when Smuin yielded artistic direction to Helgi Tomasson. Since then Ficzere has conducted his own school in Merced, Calif., and frequently set Smuin repertory around the country.
Working under a grant from the Dee Committee at the U. of U. for teaching development in fine arts and humanities, Ficzere is at present in Hungary. (He has returned to Budapest once before, and is the only defectee he knows of who has been allowed to return.) There he will videotape the final examinations and finals performances at the state ballet academy, which is conducted along the same lines as the Russian academies. "He will show the films to our students and teachers, and I'm sure that will be an eye-opening experience," said Barbara Hamblin, chair of ballet at the U.
Ficzere is married to Madeleine Bouchard, former ballerina with the Royal Winnipeg, and they have twin sons.
-UTAH SYMPHONY music director Joseph Silverstein was recently named "Musician of the Year" by the National Federation of Music Clubs. The award was presented to Silverstein at the federation's biennial convention earlier this month in Fort Worth, Tex. Cited were Silverstein's "distinguished career as an American violinist and symphony orchestra conductor" and his contributions "to the musical and artistic life of our nation."
Also attending the awards dinner was pianist Van Cliburn, whose mother was honored for her contributions to the arts.
-SOPRANO DEBBIE MITCHELL, a frequent soloist with Utah Opera, recently performed with the Grand Junction, Colo., Symphony along with Utah singers James Miller and Diane Beesley. They were soloists in the Mozart Requiem. Mitchell and her accompanist, Debbie Griffiths, have been accepted on the Idaho Performing Arts Tour for 1989-91.