‘Fatal Song’ brings opera classics together

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Celena Shafer performs in "La Boheme," one of the operas highlighted in "Fatal Song." (Photo courtesy of Utah Symphony/Utah Opera.)
Celena Shafer performs in “La Boheme,” one of the songs highlighted in “Fatal Song.” (Photo courtesy Utah Symphony/Utah Opera)

The theater production “Fatal Song” infuses multiple opera classics with a new storyline as five women portray twenty different leading ladies in one night of comedy and beautiful melodies.

The production presented by Utah Opera will run Nov. 14–17 at Rose Wagner Theater, and producers hope it will bring opera magic to diverse audiences.

Playwright Kathleen Cahill wrote the show right out of graduate school for an opera workshop in Maryland called “Opera Heroines and Divas.”

The premise of the show is that famous opera heroines, such as Mimi from “La Boheme,” and Carmen, are meeting backstage and start to realize they are all destined to die. The idea is a little comic to begin with, Cahill said, but the classic music makes for an enjoyable evening.

“When you look at the plot, it is kind of ridiculous,” Cahill said. “But the music is so beautiful that you forget about that.”

The music is not original but is gathered from multiple famous operas, so it will be recognizable to most of the audience.

“It introduces you to the greatest operatic arias,” Cahill said. “This is is like hearing the greatest hits all at once. It introduces you to a whole lot of opera for a short amount of time.”

Cahill said the show also raises a lot of important questions about the role of women in operas and why the death of the leading lady is standard.

The show features a small cast of five women who transform into many different characters. Cahill said the cast is the best she has seen in these roles, and quite a few cast members teach at BYU.

“Utah has these absolutely fabulous singers,” Cahill said. “They are unbelievable.”

Amy Owens, one of the sopranos in the show, has been doing opera for over eight years and said this production includes the most iconic music in opera. Owens will be playing three characters, including the Queen of the Night from “The Magic Flute.”

“It’s really fun to play these characters because they have some of the most recognizable music,” Owens said. “I think for a student of music it’s fun to hear all these famous things right in a row.”

Owens said if you know nothing about opera, you will still be able to recognize some of the classics, but if you love opera, you will get every joke.

“Being a performer is special because you are so vulnerable,” Owens said. “Opera is one of the most challenging art forms because singers are going to the very extreme of their vocal ability, and it is exciting to see that.”

“Fatal Song” will run Thursday, Nov. 14 through Saturday, Nov. 16, at 7:30 p.m. There will be a Sunday performance on Nov. 17 at 4:00 p.m. Tickets can be purchased on utahopera.org and are $10 for everyone under the age of 30.

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