Utah Opera will complete its multiyear presentation of Benjamin Britten's Church Parables with a performance of the third of them, "The Prodigal Son," this evening at the Cathedral of the Madeleine, 331 E. South Temple.
The concluding event of this year's Madeleine Festival, the performance begins at 8 p.m. and is free.The first two operas of the parable trilogy, "Curlew River" and "The Burning Fiery Furnace," opened the festival in 1993 and 1995 respectively. Inspired by his exposure to the Japanese Noh theater in Tokyo in 1956, the three operas were premiered in 1964, 1966 and 1968, the last at Orford Church as part of that year's Aldeburgh Festival.
Each begins and ends with a procession featuring the performers dressed as monks and singing English plainsong before donning their masks and costumes to present the story proper.
Appearing this evening as the Abbot and Tempter will be tenor Robert Breault, who, in addition to previous Utah Opera appearances as the Second Jew in "Salome" and Pedrillo in "The Abduction From the Seraglio," will sing the role of Peter Quint in the company's March 1997 production of Brit-ten's "The Turn of the Screw."
The other principal singers in "The Prodigal Son" are finishing their 10-month participation in the Utah Opera Ensemble. They are bass-baritone Frank A. Basile as the Father, baritone Marc Weagraff as the Elder Son and tenor Steven Paul Spears as the Younger Son.
The eight-piece instrumental ensemble will be conducted by Robert Debbaut, director of orchestras at the University of Utah. Last year he led the Utah Symphony at Utah Opera's Utah Arts Festival preview of "Dreamkeepers." Stage direction will be by Alexander Gelman, who heads the U. theater departmsnt's MFA directing program and also directed last year's "The Burning Fiery Furnace."
Additional support will be offered by costumer Susan Memmott Allred, chorus master Douglas Kinney, principal coach/accompanist Paul Dorgan (who will also play the chamber organ for the performance) and Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company dancer/choreographer Paul Andrews, who will guide the singers in the Japanese Noh style of movement.