Utah Opera isn’t shying away from the new stuff.
The company is still performing classics like “The Flying Dutchman” and “Rigoletto,” but it’s also adding in a production that probably isn’t as familiar to people: an opera where Steve Jobs confronts his mortality.
“The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs” — which won a Grammy Award for best opera recording in 2019 — explores “how Jobs struggled with imperfections in his relationships and personal life while relentlessly dedicating himself to creating the perfect device,” according to a news release sent to the Deseret News.
“It’s fantastic that there are companies in this country like Utah Opera that are fostering new work and then also showing their audiences not to be afraid of it — that it will appeal to them even more than ‘Aida’ does,” librettist Mark Campbell, who wrote the text for the opera, previously told the Deseret News.
“I don’t think opera will survive unless we make it relevant to the way we’re living now.”
Including “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs” in its 2022-23 season continues Utah Opera’s trend of embracing contemporary opera — the past few seasons have seen productions of modern works like “Moby-Dick,” “The Little Prince” and “Silent Night.”
Here’s a breakdown of the upcoming season, which Utah Opera announced Tuesday.
Oct. 8-16 — ‘The Flying Dutchman’
Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman” — the tale of a ghostly captain who must find true love to break a curse that keeps him sailing the seas — was originally scheduled to be part of Utah Opera’s 2020-21 season, the Deseret News reported. But it’s a large and costly production that wasn’t feasible at the onset of the pandemic, when stage productions were either canceled or scaled back, and venue capacities were limited.
“If you’re not selling your entire house, you just can’t do it,” Wendy Bryn Harmer, who will star in the upcoming production, previously told the Deseret News.
Harmer grew up in Bountiful but resides in New York, where she has performed on the Metropolitan Opera stage more than 250 times. With Utah Opera, she will perform the role of Senta, the Dutchman’s long-awaited love. Michael Chioldi takes on the role of the Dutchman.
Utah Opera’s production of “The Flying Dutchman” comes with a twist — the setting has been updated to the early 20th century, according to the news release.
Jan. 14-22 — Donizetti’s ‘The Daughter of the Regiment’
Utah Opera has been around for more than 40 years, but this upcoming season marks the first time it is staging Donizetti’s 19th-century opera “The Daughter of the Regiment.”
The “family-friendly comedy” explores what happens when a young girl named Marie grows up with an entire army regiment of over-protective fathers, according to the news release. The situation is complicated when Marie falls in love with a soldier from across enemy lines.
Taking on the role of Marie is rising soprano Madison Leonard, who was a 2018 winner of the Met’s prestigious National Council Auditions, a competition that features some of the country’s most promising young opera singers, the Deseret News reported.
March 11-19 — ‘Rigoletto’
Utah Opera will perform a traditional staging of Verdi’s classic Italian opera “Rigoletto.” Based on the Victor Hugo play “The King’s Fool,” the tragic opera follows the downfall of Rigoletto, a jester whose daughter, Gilda, has fallen victim to the Duke’s womanizing ways.
The well-known music for “Rigoletto” has worked its way into pop culture over the years, with the popular aria “La Donna e Mobile” even being featured in two Doritos Super Bowl ads. Joseph Colaneri, who is a frequent guest at the Metropolitan Opera and has been the director of the Glimmerglass Festival for 11 years, will conduct Utah Opera’s production of “Rigoletto.”
May 6-14 — ‘The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs’
When “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs” had its 2017 world premiere in Santa Fe, tickets were in such high demand that Santa Fe Opera ended up adding on a performance, the Deseret News reported.
“That means that new people — people who have never even thought of opera as an art form before — they’re coming to see opera now,” Campbell, who also wrote the text for the Pulitzer Prize-winning opera “Silent Night,” previously told the Deseret News. “It’s a very, very exciting time for contemporary opera.”
While not biographical, the one-act opera shows Jobs, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2011, confronting his mortality and takes audiences through some of the events that shaped Jobs’ life.
Jessica Jones, a former Utah Opera resident artist, starred as Jobs’ girlfriend, Chrisann Brennan, in the world premiere that won a Grammy. The soprano attributed much of that success to her time with Utah Opera from 2015-16.
“One of the main skills I gained (at Utah Opera) was being able to really be comfortable in learning music very quickly,” she told the Deseret News shortly after winning a Grammy. “The level of artistry that’s expected is high. So that set me up really well for going into a world premiere. … The practical experience that I got in Utah really helped set me up for success. Frankly, they were kind of a launching pad for me to get to Santa Fe and for a lot of my next steps in my career, so I owe a lot to them.”
Utah Opera is co-producing the upcoming production of “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs” with the Atlanta Opera, Austin Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City and Calgary Opera, according to the news release.
Additional information ...
Season tickets are available for purchase, and tickets for individual performances go on sale June 14. Tickets can be purchased via Utah Symphony | Utah Opera’s mobile app, UtahOpera.org and by phone at 801-533-6683.