Mezzo-soprano Audrey Babcock will return to Cache Valley next summer to star in the Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre’s 2023 production of the opera ‘Aida.”
LOGAN – After a memorable 2022 season with the Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre here, mezzo-soprano Audrey Babcock will be returning to Logan again next summer.
“She’s going to be our Amneris in Aida next year,” according to UFOMT impresario Michael Ballam.
An assistant professor of voice at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte, Ms. Babcock performed opposite Ballam in the recent UFOMT production of Man of La Mancha.
She also appeared in the title role of the opera Carmen during the current UFOMT season, reprising a previous commanding performance of that role here in 2009.
Her performances as Aldonza and Carmen confirmed a growing national reputation.
Ms. Babcock will also share the stage here with guitarist and arranger Andrés Vadin for a night of music spanning generations and genres in Beyond Carmen on July 26 at the Ellen Eccles Theatre in downtown Logan.
Ballam explains that Ms. Babcock will be part of an interesting experiment by the Festival Opera next summer.
On July 7, the festival’s founding director told an Informance audience that the UFOMT line-up for next season would include two very different versions of Aida. One of them would be traditionally operatic and the other a modern musical drama.
Aida is an 1871 opera with music by Giuseppe Verdi set in ancient Egypt that is a beloved part of the operatic canon.
But Ballam was concerned that the opera’s story – of a doomed love triangle – was better told by the recent musical.
Written by pop star Elton John and Tim Rice, their Disney musical version of Aida debuted on Broadway in 2000 to critical acclaim, winning four Tony Awards.
UFOMT has decided to produce both the opera and the musical versions of Aida in 2023, Ballam explains, to let Cache Valley audiences decide which they prefer.
Ms. Babcock will appear as Amneris, the daughter of the Pharaoh, who is passionately in love with Badamès, the commander of the armies of Egypt. But Badamès secretly loves Aida, an Ethiopian princess who has been captured and enslaved by the Egyptians.
As always in opera, things end badly.
Aida was last performed by the Utah Festival Opera in 2008.
Ms. Babcock has performed the role of Carmen more than 100 times, cementing her reputation as the fiercest of femme fatales.
Those performances of the opera Carmen included productions at the Festival Lyrique-en-Mer in France; the Florentine Opera; the Nashville Opera; Florida Grand Opera; the New York City Opera; the San Antonio Opera; the Knoxville Opera; Opera Delaware; the Toledo Opera; the Anchorage Opera; the Dayton Opera; Fort Worth Opera; the Mill City Summer Opera; and, of course, here at the Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre.