Utah Opera and Utah Symphony: 2023 Fall Preview

There are many ways we can argue that the arts matter and why we should support them. 

One of the most readily made arguments in Utah is the economic one. The pandemic took its toll, of course, but the industry began to recover in 2021. The Utah arts and culture sector represented an $8.1 billion industry in 2021, 3.6% of the state’s GDP and 65,696 jobs (according to Americans For the Arts Action Fund). But the arts in Utah represent more than just the economic contributions. A report by the Utah Culture Alliance (UCA) shows the arts are in Utah’s DNA. We attend more live cultural events and create more art than any other state. And art improves lives. There are benefits to experiencing a multitude of perspectives through participation in the arts. Performing arts, at their core, are ways to tell our stories. Sharing our stories allows us to connect and be understood and, in turn, understand others. We could all probably use a little more understanding, connection and empathy in our lives. Plus, it’s fun! Get out there, take in a concert and see an opera show or a symphony in Utah!

Utah Symphony
The Little Prince from Utah Opera. Photo courtesy Utah Opera

Utah Opera

Venue: Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre—Salt Lake City
Operas: Puccini’s La Bohème, Rachel Portman and Nicholas Wright’s The Little Prince and Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro 
Tickets: utahopera.org

With some of opera’s best-known music, Puccini’s La Bohème (Oct. 7–15) tells the story of four struggling bohemians living together in Paris whose lives are changed forever one freezing night. Later in the season, audiences will have a chance to enjoy the delightful characters from the beloved children’s storybook The Little Prince (Jan. 20–28) on the opera stage and laugh alongside the hilarious antics in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (March 9–17).

For those who can’t get enough opera, the opera hosts talks one hour before each performance, with Utah Opera Principal Coach Carol Anderson, to learn more about the production, and, following each performance, audience members can join Utah Opera’s Artistic Director to discuss the production in the Capitol Room.

Behind the Scenes at Utah Opera

The Utah Opera’s costume department is celebrated for a reason. Many operas require the team to design and construct individual and sometimes elaborate costumes from scratch. For instance, last season’s production of Donizetti’s The Daughter of the Regiment required 46 brand-new costumes to be fully built by Utah Opera’s costume department. Costume Designer Linda Pisano—alongside the talented artisans of the costume department—brought their vision to life from nearly 300 pages of detailed research and drawings. Before the actual design work can even begin, the designer has to be extremely well informed about the production—taking into consideration the time period and the opera director’s vision. The designer then creates artistic renderings of the costumes to provide an overall vision to the looks. Once renderings are approved, the designer creates incredibly detailed technical drawings of each piece. Once these drawings are finalized, the costume department then creates mock-ups from low-quality fabric, making adjustments and eventually turning the mock-ups into patterns. Then, it’s time for final cuts (out of the expensive fabric this time) and stitching together—both by machine and by hand—the finished costumes.

Utah Symphony

Venues: Abravanel Hall—Salt Lake City; Noorda Center for the Performing Arts—Utah Valley University, Orem
Programs: Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, Celebración Sinfónica, Beethoven’s Grand “Emperor” Piano Concerto, Itzhak Perlman, Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2, Beethoven’s Ninth, Audra McDonald, Brahms’ Symphony No. 2, Appalachian Spring. (Check the Utah Symphony schedule online for more even more programming and special events.) 
Tickets: usuo.org

The Utah Symphony presents “A Season of Storytelling” for the 2023-24 season. This new season introduces the audience to a wide range of stories and characters and their captivating musical tales through the raw storytelling power of a live symphony orchestra. The season’s narrative begins with Antonín Dvořák’s “New World” Symphony (Sept. 15–16), inspired by the storytelling of Native American and African American music, in a program with Utah native Aubree Oliverson as soloist in Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto. 
On the schedule are expert storytellers like Itzhak Perlman (Oct. 14), the reigning violin virtuoso performing the iconic musical scores of John Williams, and Broadway performer and star of HBO’s The Gilded Age Audra McDonald (Nov. 10–11). The symphony has also invited 15 renowned conductors to bring their visions to the Masterworks programs for this season, including Creative Partner David Robertson. Robertson has crafted three distinct and imaginative concert experiences designed to excite existing audiences and attract newcomers. His first program will deepen audiences’ understanding of Beethoven’s Ninth (Nov. 3–4), paired with the semi-staged final act of Berg’s opera, Wozzeck, based on the true and brutal story of a tragic contemporary of Beethoven.

This season, Utah Symphony introduces the series “Masterworks Magnified.” For three “Masterworks” performances, audiences will enjoy added elements such as video projections and special lighting, conversations with the performers and lobby activities on theme with the concert. The first is Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2, in a program with Franz Liszt’s eerie Totentanz, performed by audience-favorite pianist Joyce Yang, and Camille Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre—a bone-rattling finale sure to summon spirits for Halloween (Oct. 20–21). 

Utah Symphony
Utah Symphony. Photo courtesy of Utah Symphony


Utah Symphony’s “Films in Concert” series has the symphony orchestra playing live the score of a film as the movie plays on the big screen for the audience. It’s a fun and accessible way to enjoy the Utah Symphony through the music of well-loved films. The 2023-2024 Films in Concert series includes Marvel Studios’ Black Panther In Concert, Sept. 8–9; Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 In Concert, Oct. 26-28; Disney’s Frozen In Concert, Dec. 21-23; Casablanca, Feb. 9-10, 2024.

We have even more 2023 Fall Arts previews, like theater, here!

Christie Porter
Christie Porterhttps://christieporter.com/
Christie Porter is the managing editor of Salt Lake Magazine. She has worked as a journalist for nearly a decade, writing about everything under the sun, but she really loves writing about nerdy things and the weird stuff. She recently published her first comic book short this year.

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