World-class entertainment

By By Sarah Anderson

By Sarah Anderson

Utah is not entirely the sleepy community that outsiders might assume. Yes, the state is home to watered-down alcohol and a colorful history of polygamy, but the Beehive State also boasts a calendar of quality performance arts to rival those of many more cosmopolitan communities.

In addition to fine student ensembles and guest artists, Salt Lake City is home to the Utah Symphony, the Utah Opera and Ballet West. Salt Lake City is fortunate enough to enjoy not only the quiet streets of suburban sprawl and accessible, tame wilderness areas, but also world-class performance groups.

Founded in 1935, the Utah Symphony is the eldest of such groups. Keith Lockhart, formerly the conductor of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, currently conducts the symphony, balancing his time between the Utah Symphony and the Boston Pops Orchestra. Perhaps even better known than the Utah Symphony is its home, Abravanel Hall. Time Magazine, The New York Times and others have heralded this structure, located near Temple Square, for its architectural and acoustic beauty.

Ballet West was originally called the Utah Civic Ballet at its inception in 1963. When the Federation of Rocky Mountain States chose this ballet company to represent the region in 1968, the group was renamed Ballet West. The company has a history of talented artistic directors, including Willam F. Christensen, who also established the first ballet department in an American university when he started a program at the U in 1951. Since 1978, Ballet West has performed at Capitol Theatre, which is also home to the Utah Opera and many touring plays. Dancers from around the globe make up the company of 35 and perform on 70 separate occasions annually throughout the United States.

Although it was only formed in 1978, the Utah Opera has been quick to garner attention from Utah residents. The troupe maintains an extremely active performance schedule, including community outreach and education opportunities. The 2006-2007 Season includes The Pirates of Penzance, La Traviata, Ariadne auf Naxos, Lucia di Lammermoor and The Grapes of Wrath.

Tickets for the Utah Symphony and the Utah Opera are available at the Abravanel Hall box office or by calling 801-533-NOTE. Student tickets are $8 (bring your UCard to the performance). Tickets for Ballet West are available through ArtTix.