U and Opera Company Settle on Archive Suit

The U and Utah Festival Opera Company settled a two year legal battle over more than 50,000 musical recordings memorabilia and instruments with the creation of a non-profit organization Wednesday.

For the last two years, lawyers representing both organizations have fought a custody battle for the Mariska Aldrich Music Archive, worth $3 million.

The legal settlement created a new foundation to administer the archive called the Mariska Aldrich Memorial Archive Foundation.

“The archive is of great interest and value to students, faculty and the public,” said Fred Esplin, vice president for university relations. “Through this agreement, the archive will become more widely and quickly available for historical and scholarly purposes.”

The archive was originally the personal collection of Mariska Aldrich, a famous opera singer.

Aldrich’s son-in-law, Richards Anderson, was chairman of the original organization that owned the archives. Anderson publicly stated he intended to give the opera company the archives in exchange for housing. However, when he said this, Anderson did not have approval from the from the archive foundation’s Board of Directors.

The U had received a similar invitation, but negotiations lasted two years, ending without a settlement in 1994.

In 1998, Anderson died, further complicating the issue. After his death, the company asked Henry Snyder, one of Anderson’s friends, to retain the archives.

Snyder then re-organized the board, which consisted of many lifetime members and a few new members. This newly organized board struck a deal with the U in August 1998.

Under the new agreement, the U will continue to store and use some of the archives as part of the McKay Music Library in Gardner Hall. The opera company will retain other portions at its Logan offices.

The opera company and the U will work together to catalog and digitize the archive for the use of both entities.

“UFOC is very pleased with this outcome,” said Michael Ballam, general director of the UFOC. “The Aldrich Archive is an extraordinary musical collection, and we’re glad that we can work with the U to make it widely available to music scholars and music lovers.”

Ballam previously criticized the U for the way the archive was stored, saying public access to the archive concerns Ballam because the archives can be used by people who don’t know how to handle them, he said.

“The archive has a long history in connection with us,” said Edgar Thompson, former chairman of the U’s music department, in a previous interview.

A board will govern the memorial archive foundation, comprised of: Ballam, Thompson, Robert Wazel, chairman of the U music department, Newell Dayley, dean of the Brigham Young University College of Fine Arts and Communication, and Walter Rudolph, UFOC board member and manager of KBYU FM.

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