Critic Picks for the 2022-23 season

Sun Sep 11, 2022 at 4:26 pm
By Rick Mortensen & Catherine Reese Newton
George Stevens Jr’s “Thurgood” opens at the Utah Shakespeare Festival September 14.

Thurgood. Utah Shakespeare Festival. September 14–October 8.

The Utah Shakespeare Festival’s interim artistic director, Derek Charles Livingston, plays the title role—as well as several supporting roles—in George Stevens Jr.’s one-actor drama depicting the life of legendary civil rights attorney and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Livingston joined the festival staff last year as director of new play development; this will be his Utah stage debut. (CRN)

Music of Tchaikovsky, Ives, Thomas and Salieri. Utah SymphonyThierry Fischer. November 3-5.

While Amadeus portrayed him as a mediocrity envious of Mozart’s genius, Antontio Salieri was actually a brilliant, accomplished composer with a unique style. As part of an eclectic program in his final season, Thierry Fischer will introduce Utah audiences to the Overture to Salieri’s comic opera Prima la musica poi le parole. The program will also feature Augusta Read Thomas’s Dance Foldings, which premiered last year at the Proms, Charles Ives’ idiosyncratic Symphony No. 2 and Tchaikovsky’s Concerto No. 1, with Russian pianist Andrei Korobeinikov. (RM)

Donizetti: The Daughter of the Regiment. Utah Opera. January 14-22, 2023.

Michael Shell, who directed last season’s zany production of The Barber of Seville, will return to Utah Opera for The Daughter of the Regiment, which, like Barber, is a bel canto comedy bursting with reprises and ensembles ready to be stuffed with pratfalls and sight gags. Shell’s Barber was like an episode of “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In”, and bass-baritone Matthew Burns, who garnered huge laughs as Dr. Bartolo, will play a similar role in Regiment, that of the ingenue’s guardian Sargent Sulpice. In addition to the comedy, The Daughter of the Regiment features glorious arias from its romantic leads, which will be sung by tenor Jack Swanson as Tonio and Utah-based soprano Madison Leonard as Marie. (RM)

Orff: Carmina Burana. Utah Symphony/Fawzi Haimor. January 27-28, 2023.

Fawzi Haimor guest conducts a program that could be described as “fiery.” In addition to Orff’s primal tour de force, the concert will feature Stravinsky’s Firebird and the Utah premiere of Joshua Cerdenia’s 2017 piece Feuertrunken (“Fire-Drunk”), which the composer describes as a “loud meditation…on joy” inspired in part by Dante’s Purgatorio.  Carmina Burana will feature tenor Brian Stucki, baritone Christopher Clayton, and soprano Liv Redpath along with the Utah Symphony Chorus and University of Utah Choirs. (RM)

A Distinct Society. Pioneer Theatre Company. January 27–February 11, 2023.

In Kareem Fahmy’s new dark comedy inspired by real events, an Iranian family separated by a “Muslim ban” uses a quiet library on the U.S.–Canada border as a meeting place—and the head librarian, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent, and a local teen grapple with ethical dilemmas. (CRN)

Utah Opera presents Donizetti’s The Daughter of the Regiment January 14-22, 2023. Photo: Fort Worth Opera

Hairy and Sherri. Salt Lake Acting Company. February 8–March 5.

An “adorkable” interracial couple in gentrified East Austin deal with unintended consequences after they open their home to a former foster-care youth with special needs in this new play by Texas playwright Adrienne Dawes. (CRN)

Price: Piano Concerto in One Movement. Michelle Cann, pianist with Utah Symphony/Tito Muñoz. April 7-8.

In her Utah Symphony debut, pianist Michelle Cann will play a piano concerto by Florence Price, an African-American female composer whose concerto Cann has championed in recent years. The concert will also feature Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10 and will be conducted by Tito Muñoz, whose performance of Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony was a highlight of last season. (RM)

Fire! Plan-B Theatre Company. April 13–23.

Wallace Thurman was a gay black novelist and editor who came to prominence during the Harlem Renaissance, but whose contributions are little-remembered in his hometown of Salt Lake City. Actor Carleton Bluford, a former Utahn still popular in his home state, reprises the role of Thurman in this revival of Jenifer Nii’s 2010 play. (CRN)

“The Wedding.” Ballet West. April 14–22.

Bronislava Nijinska’s Les Noces, set to Stravinsky’s grandiose score, is the centerpiece of Ballet West’s spring program. Other works on the bill, all company premieres, are Jerome Robbins’s In the Night, set to Chopin nocturnes for solo piano; and Gerald Arpino’s Light Rain, with original music by Douglas Adamz and Russ Gauthier. (CRN)

Mason Bates: The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs. Utah Opera. May 6-14.

Utah Opera will present a new production of Mason Bates and Mark Campbell’s musical biography of Apple founder Steve Jobs in a production Utah Opera co-production.

The Revolution of Steve Jobs premiered in 2017 at Santa Fe Opera and was a hit, moving on to a successful run at Seattle Opera in 2019. The score is eclectic: combining orchestral music with techno, guitar, and in a few places, Tibetan singing bowls with orchestral passages. However, the form of the music rarely strays from the arias and recitative to which opera audiences are accustomed. (RM)

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