Divas, death and satire fill the stage in Utah Opera’s production of ‘Fatal Song’

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BYU music alum Amy Owens (seated) and Celena Shafer (standing) perform in 'Fatal Song,' at the Rose Wagner Theatere. (Photo courtesy of Christine McDonough.)
BYU music alumna Amy Owens (seated) and Celena Shafer (standing) perform in “Fatal Song,” by the Utah Opera at the Rose Wagner Theatere. (Photo courtesy Christine McDonough)

When 17 of the most beloved opera divas gather on stage for one night filled with classic arias, opening your mouth to sing may very well be your last breath.

“Fatal Song” follows the story of well-known opera divas wittily conversing about their impending deaths in a script soaked with satire and charm. The result: a night of humor and beautiful music as these divas come to the realization that their composers kill them to make themselves immortal.

Christopher McBeth, the artistic director of the Utah Opera, told the audience that they were in for something a little bit different than the typical night to the opera.

“I really enjoyed the comedy and the humor,” said Melissa Tingey, a freshman from Kaysville. “I thought it was still funny, even if you don’t know opera.”

Jim Christian was brought in to direct the production. With his background in musical theater, Christian helped the performers set up the comedic moments in a way that would appeal to opera aficionados and first-time opera attendees alike.

“The dialog itself has humor to it, whether you have the full context or not,” Christian said.

Christian talked about working with the actors to set each other up for comedic punches that would fill the theater with audience members’ laughter. He applauded the risks taken by the actors and actresses that resulted in a night of enjoyable entertainment.

Five actresses are enrolled to portray the various divas, and their comedic coordination, combined with their rich voices, filled the theater with both beauty and laughter.

One of the performers, Jennifer Welch-Babidge, is a professor at BYU. She portrayed three different roles throughout the night that pulled at the heartstrings and tickled the funny bone simultaneously. Welch-Babidge sang with conviction and purpose as she portrayed the characters Despina, Mimi and Pamina.

Every musical piece in the production comes from a famous opera, many of which will be easily recognizable to the general music listener. The eloquent vocals expertly told the different tales of each of the divas as they realized their impending deathly fates. Each of the vocalists provided a range of emotion that powerfully portrayed the irony and humor of their similar situations.

“Fatal Song” is a night of opera that everyone will enjoy and is playing at the Rose Wagner Theatere until Nov. 17, performed by the Utah Opera, with tickets available to students for $10 at the box office. Tickets can also be purchased online at http://utahopera.org/ or by calling 801–355–2787.

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