All Done For Vivace!

Well it’s been a hectic few days but I just put the final touches on the Vivace primer, printed and designed what felt like 5 gazillion posters and primers, got blankets, ordered balloons, organized the Vivace name badges for the Advisory Council, and printed out sign up sheets and Classical V Series order forms. Whew! I’m really getting excited for tonight’s event. Vivace partied at Time for Three’s (Tf3) performance last year at the 2007 Deer Valley® Music Festival. You can view the pics here. As you can see, the party was a lot of fun and may have gotten a little carried away with photos surrounding the cello car! Tf3 was a blast and I can’t wait for another fun night of hearing their music and then hanging out at Red Rock, Park City. Red Rock is providing free appetizers – yum!

Santa Fe 2

Hey all,

Saw Verdi’s FALSTAFF the other night.   I must admit, I think it is — musically — one of the most clever pieces of music ever written.  The story of the opera combines parts of both THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR and HENRY IV and is basically Verdi’s only pure comedy.  While it was a fun evening, perhaps not the best of Santa Fe Opera’s offerings.  To the company’s credit, they had to replace the title role (It’s not uncommon in large companies to change lead roles at some point in the run of performances.  The reason being that the world’s finest performers are quite busy and often can’t hang about for two or more months.)  It clearly changed the energy for the entire cast.  My inside sources tell me the conductor was also incorporating some faster than normal tempos that night which would have put the entire cast on edge.

The title role was performed by Anthony Michaels-Moore.  He’s a Brit and this is one of his signature roles.  Falstaff is a huge and difficult role.  It requires amazing acting skills and the ability to sing at all extremes of the voice as well as to make some unusual sounds.  He did all very well.  Again, while my inside sources tell me that the artist who performed the first part of the performance run was better, Mr. Michaels-Moore did an wonderful job.

Standouts of the evening were probably the Dame Quickly played by Nancy Maultsby and Fenton played by Norman Reinhardt.   The former is a vocally thankless role that requires the performer to run around the stage more than the rest of the cast put together and the latter requires a lighter but still romantic vocal quality.  Mr. Reinhardt played the role as virile as I have ever seen it.

The physical production (sets, costumes and lighting)  was pretty straightforward.  It incorporated a number of moments where we watched the set changing (called: a vista) which helped solve a number of the challenges of the piece (it moves from one location to another while the music is playing…also, Santa Fe Opera chose to combine acts one and two and thus having one intermission rather than two).  No big revelations; just a physical production that mostly facilitated and — perhaps most importantly — got out of the way of the music and interaction between the singers rather than steal any kind of focus or make a “statement.”

All in all a lovely evening.

This is the weekend that Santa Fe Opera invites opera company general/artistic directors and agents from around the world not only to see the shows, but also to hear the young artists in audition. Today we heard half of the forty apprentice artists participating in this summer’s festival (we hear the remaining artists tomorrow).  There was much good singing to be heard.  I was particularly impressed that a few of them are still finishing up grad school which means there are some good talents coming up to us.

Yesterday I met with an agent who represents some of the most famous singers in the industry.  He’s been a good friend for a number of years and has an excellent pair of ears. He also understands how to work with different sized companies including the Met as well as Utah Opera and much smaller companies.  If you saw DON GIOVANNI, the Donna Anna (Susanna Phillips) is one of his up and coming clients.  I look forward to bringing her back to Utah in 2010.   Oh yes, Renee Fleming is another.  Anyway, we had some really good discussion about casting for our upcoming seasons and I’m excited for what might happen in the future.

This morning we had breakfast with the casting person from Houston Grand Opera and the Director of the Metropolitan National Council Auditions (e.g. the Met Auditions).  In addition, our own Carol Anderson joined us (she works for Santa Fe Opera in the summers along with our own chorus master, Susanne Sheston) and the new up and rising soprano star: Heidi Stober.  Heidi is enjoying her second summer in Santa Fe and we’ll see her perform in the Handel opera, RADAMISTO tomorrow night.  Heidi is an alum of our own Ensemble Program for young artists.  She went on to the Houston Grand Opera Studio program and this fall will be singing with Deustsche Oper in Berlin.  This is an amazing opportunity for Heidi to perform with an international company which — trust me on this — will lead to MANY more international performing opportunities.  I’m fairly sure this one is going to be a star.  And her beginnings were with Utah Opera!

Getting to the Gladys Knight Concert

As you may know, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) has undertaken a major project on Interstate 80 that includes replacing 12 bridges in just two months. You can learn more about the Innovate 80 project at www.udot.utah.gov/innovate80.

Utah Symphony | Utah Opera has worked closely with UDOT to ensure this project does not conflict with our summer Festival in Park City, and UDOT has been very helpful in adjusting road closure times to ensure our patrons can make it to and from the Festival from Salt Lake City.

At 7 PM on August 16 (the day of the Gladys Knight concert), UDOT will be closing all eastbound lanes on I-80 to replace the Lambs Canyon / Mt. Dell bridges. This closure means our guests traveling from Salt Lake City to Park City will be able to drive to our performance on I-80 but must be past the Mt. Dell bridge by 7 PM. Westbound traffic will not be affected by the road closure so travel back to Salt Lake City will remain unchanged.

Due to road closure on I-80, we will be opening the gates at 4:30 PM in anticipation of early arrivals. UDOT recommends that everyone be through Parley’s Canyon before 6:30 PM. We invite you to come up to Park City early and either have dinner in the city or bring a picnic to the hill and eat before the concert. Visit www.deervalleymusicfestival.org to see discounts you can receive with your concert ticket.

We will also have FM100 on-site starting at 3 PM with live on-air broadcasts and free giveaways. Stop by their Live Remote and enter to win a chance at FREE Deer Valley® lift passes for the 2008- 2009 ski season!

Thanks for your understanding! We hope you’ll plan ahead and come up early to have a great time in Park City.

Musician’s Note: “New World” Symphony

Joseph EvansI’ve been playing violin with the Utah Symphony for 12 years and feel very fortunate to have such a unique and fulfilling job.

One of the great things about playing in an orchestra is the opportunity to play great repertoire, like the “New World” Symphony, which is full of beautiful melodies and tone colors. To sit in the middle of an orchestra, feel the sound washing over me, and enjoy how the many parts fit together is quite an experience. I highly recommend it.

Another great piece in the repertoire we’ll be performing this week is the Beethoven Concerto for Violin and Orchestra. It has been one of my favorite pieces for as long as I can remember, and it was one of the first recordings of classical music I owned when I received a cassette tape of Itzhak Perlman for Christmas. I liked it so much I traded my entire coin collection (very valuable to a nine-year-old boy!) with a friend to get his orchestral score so I could read along with the tape. Now, I have more than 20 recordings of this concerto, and I still never get tired of it. Actually, one of my favorite performances of the piece was when Joseph Silverstein played it with the Utah Symphony many years ago; his warm sound and poised phrasing was ideal to me.

Please join us for these and more wonderful pieces at the Deer Valley® Music Festival!

Joe Evans

Violin, Utah Symphony

A Santa Fe

Dear Opera Friends and Family,

So we left for the annul trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico, yesterday.  For those unaware, Santa Fe hosts one of the best summer opera festivals in the world.  What does this mean?  Well, many places (such as Des Moines in my earlier posts) around the world offer the opportunity to go to a lovely place…say, Santa Fe, NM, and see one opera a night for up to a week.  Bayreuth (in Germany) is probably the best example, showcasing Wagner’s works but there are several other options.  This country actually has a number of opportunities; Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Glimmerglass Opera are two of them (and highly recommended by this author).  One of the attractions for Julie and me attending this particular event is that we took the motorcycle and spent two lovely days getting here via the San Juan Skyway through Ouray, Silverton and Durango.  If you haven’t taken this road, you must.  Only caveat is you musn’t be afraid of heights.  We stayed at a B&B in Ouray called the Black Bear Inn.  Apparently, it is aptly named as one of the guests regaled us with a story of seeing a bear rummaging in the trash bin the morning of our arrival.  I’ve seen bears up close before and while I appreciate them and wish they were friendlier, I am fine if I don’t see one in close proximity ever again.  That stated, Ouray is an amazing little town reminiscent of some I have seen in Switzerland; a small valley at just under 8,000 feet surrounded by 13 and 14 thousand foot peaks.  All at the beginning of one of the most stunning roads ever created for auto (and, better yet, motorcycle).

So…we arrived here today after a lovely ride.  Santa Fe is truly a beautiful place and the clouds do something in this part of the world that I don’t see anywhere else.  Perfectly defined and yet undefinable all at the same time.   If you are a painter, you’ll find it mesmerizing. Clearly Georgia O’Keeffe did.

So, why am I here besides it being a lovely place?  As I stated earlier, festivals are a place to see multiple operas in short order.  So, beginning tomorrow (Tuesday) I see at least three operas in four nights.  Add to this, it is the week that Artistic and General Directors from around the country are invited and treated to networking events.  Also, auditions for all the young artists this summer are arranged in the actual performance space.  So…a chance to see world-class opera, make deals with colleagues from other companies and hear the next generation of opera artists.   Should be a good week.  I’ll keep “blogging” and let you know how it goes.

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A Beethoven of Our Time: Joan Tower

As classical music fans, we’re always on the look-out to hear the latest and greatest in classical music and we wish we had had the opportunity to meet and hear Beethoven or Mozart live and in their day. Well here’s your chance to hear a Beethoven of today: Joan Tower. Ms. Tower is important not only because she’s one of just a handful of female composers who are actively composing, but mainly because she’s been a constant innovator and voice for modern classical music over the last five decades. She’s received three Grammy Awards, countless commissions and composition awards, and was the first female to receive the Grawemeyer Award in Composition. She’s been the composer-in-residence at several of the best orchestras in the world. Utah Symphony has enjoyed a five-year association with Ms. Tower through her tenure as composer-in-residence at our Deer Valley® Music Festival. If you want to hear the best and the brightest in classical music today, come to Deer Valley Resort this Friday.

Utah Symphony will perform her orchestral work, Made in America. This 15-minute piece is truly an American work in every sense of the word: through a partnership program between the American Symphony Orchestra League and Meet The Composer, this pieces “toured” all 50 states and was featured on programs by some 65 orchestras during the 2005-07 seasons. Over a span of two seasons, this piece saw more performances in more states than the much heralded Police reunion tour! Read Joan Tower’s program notes here. Greg Sandow, a classical music icon himself, writes about this grand undertaking here.

Musician’s Note: Bringing Classical Mystery Tour Back to Utah

The last time ‘Classical Mystery Tour‘ appeared with the Utah Symphony, I needed earplugs – to handle the roar of the audience!John Eckstein

As a Beatles fan, I understand the power of their music.  And yet I still couldn’t have predicted the level of excitement reached in Abravanel Hall during those concerts.  It was as if reality was suspended, and we were all transported back in time.  I’ve never seen an audience enjoy itself more.

For the last several years I’ve been hounding Utah Symphony Artistic Director Jeff Bram to get this ‘fab four’ back.  At meetings, parties, even at the grocery store, he hasn’t been safe.  He finally caved to the relentless pressure.

Come and join us for the music that defined an era, performed in the most beautiful concert setting you’ll ever find.

See you there!

Classical Mystery Tour
A Tribute to the Beatles with the Utah Symphony
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Deer Valley Snow Park Amphitheater
Learn more at deervalleymusicfestival.org >>

A Trip to the Heartland – part 2

As one arrives in the little town of Indianola, Iowa, home to DMMO, one sees what is a stereotypical small Iowa town: corn fields that push right up against the city limits; a grain elevator just off of the center of town; beautiful old maples and oaks leaning over the roads; and a town square. Before I can begin reminiscing on my college days, I need to get checked into my hotel. Basically, when picking a hotel in Indianola one has a whopping TWO choices. I might add that this is one more choice than was available even as recent as ten years ago. The older hotel is the quaint little Apple Tree Inn, which when I was a student was a cute, if basic, motel run by a lovely local family. Just a comfortable place to sleep that offered the major amenities of a McDonalds on one side and Country Kitchen on the other. The other choice is the Super 8 motel which is a little more on the outskirts (but still within walking distance of the Country Kitchen).

I chose the Apple Tree Inn since my parents had enjoyed it when coming to see our performances and I had used it once before many years ago. However, the lovely local family had apparently retired and sold it to “outsiders” who had let the property go a bit and were clearly more interested in the bottom line than friendly service. That stated, at $66/night, I suppose I got what I paid for. Besides, there was always Country Kitchen for breakfast. I turned the room’s air conditioning on full blast and left to head to the campus to do what my father calls, “chasing ghosts.”

Now, six weeks ago when I made arrangements with my colleagues at DMMO, the plan had been to hear half of the apprentice artists the evening I arrived. However, between the time of making said arrangements and my arrival the schedule changed. I had been trumped that day by a master class being given by none other than Carol Vaness. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Carol Vaness, she was one of the world’s leading sopranos of her generation. She basically owned all the serious Mozart roles but also was a famous Tosca as well. Most recently, I saw her do the role of the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier at Seattle Opera which was quite lovely. I decided to attend a part of her master class before taking advantage of the newly found time. I am happy to report that Carol is a WONDERFUL master class teacher. She clearly loves working with young artists and has an uncanny ability to set the singers with which she is working at complete ease and even help a singer with a technical issue without using purely technical language (For the non-singer reading this, singers are often a little touchy about someone other than his/her teacher addressing technical issues; strange but true.) which is a real gift. I immediately decided I will look into inviting her to come to Salt Lake City to work with our young artists. Having had this epiphany, I decided I deserved a treat from the nearly seventy-year-old Corner Sundry. Off to the town square.

To be continued…

A Trip to the Heartland

Not enough people know it, but opera is alive and well in the middle of Iowa.  Not only do they have a long-standing opera festival but also a well-respected young artist program.  Add to this that they were presenting a rarely performed work, Marc Blitzstein’s Regina – a work Utah Opera will present this coming January – and I couldn’t stay away.  Now, I must confess, the company I was visiting – Des Moines Metro Opera – is situated on the campus where I went to college, so there were extenuating circumstances for my wanting to visit.  That stated, it turned out to be a much more productive trip than I first expected.

Any of you who have flown into Des Moines’ airport know that incorporating the word “International” into the title feels a little bit of a stretch.  It has two concourses total, and about ten gates a piece.  The bright side: when departing from Des Moines, I don’t know if a shorter and easier security line can be found in a city airport.  When I arrived, I went to the car rental counter where I had a reservation and their computers were down.  (Mind you, I believe this particular counter only got computers last year, but you can imagine how much challenge this creates.)  Once we did all the paperwork by hand, I was rewarded with a lovely upgrade that included satellite radio.  Bonus – the radio never came off of the Metropolitan Opera’s 24/7 station.  But enough of this, we were ready to go.

I stepped out the door…OK, so lately it has been hot here in SLC, but I was reminded what a fantastic thing we have in our lack of humidity; what do I have in Iowa?  The same temperatures at home but with the added benefit of about 90% wetness in the air.  I needed a change of shirt before I got to my car!

So…in the car with the Met’s station blaring (it was a Strauss marathon…yes!) and the air conditioning on full tornado mode, I make my way towards the home of Des Moines Metro Opera.  Now…here’s the thing, Des Moines Metro Opera isn’t actually in Des Moines.  The aforementioned campus where I will see performances is actually in a sleepy little town nearly 15 miles south of the Des Moines city limits…and I must add: there is LITTLE in between save corn fields.  It’s eerily like the movie, Field of Dreams; somehow, they built it…thirty-six years ago…and people came…and continue to come.

To be continued…

Company Picnic in the space to Deer Valley

Last weekend the Department heads of Utah Symphony | Utah Opera hosted a company picnic in Sugar house.  The food was fantastic, and the cooks were entertaining with costumes to boot to entertain the summer theme.  It was a nice break as we are still working hard to get the summer season at Deer Valley prepared and ready to go!  There was great socializing that ended in a water fight breaking apart the various conversations, and games of croquet that had begun.

Kirsten Brochinsky headed up a food drive as a competition between the company at Abravanel Hall and the Production Studios.  It was a race to the finish, and Kirsten even collected a few more items at the picnic itself but Production Studios had them beat by over one thousand ounces as the winners were announced after lunch.  The prizes were bubbles and small water guns for everyone at the winning building which were used in abundance during the water fight.  The afternoon was great fun!

Pictures can be found http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=23046&id=6381784924