Michael Ballam appears in a promotional video for American Festival Chorus and Orchestra, singing along to “This Land is Your Land.”
LOGAN – This year will mark the 30th anniversary of the local Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre’s summer seasons.
The UFOMT 2022 season will kick off with a matinee performance of Man of La Mancha, starring Michael Ballam, founding general director, at 1 p.m. on July 6.
“It is not by chance that we are producing Man of La Mancha to celebrate 30 years of ‘dreaming the impossible dream’,” according to Ballam.
“While there have been some windmills, giants and ogres along the way,” Ballam adds, “we have been ‘willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause’.”
Ballam will share the stage with operatic soprano Audrey Babcock as Aldonza and his son-in-law Stefan Espinosa as Sancho Panza. The show was previously produced in 2015 with Lee Daily as Quixote’s loyal sidekick.
After 30 years, Ballam can look back over 945 performances of 214 different productions that drew more than 600,000 patrons from 50 states and 11 countries.
The first season, 30 years ago, featured 15 events, Ballam recalls. The 2022 season will feature 548 events, including main stage productions of Man Of La Mancha, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, She Loves Me and the operas The Magic Flute and Carmen.
Over the years, the UFOMT has grown into the most popular tourist destination north of Temple Square, contributing $1.5 billion to the local economy at an average of $65 million a year.
As the largest seasonal business in Cache County, the UFOMT has 67 full-time employees, plus hired 2,415 performing artists, 1,241 musicians and 1,873 technicians during its 30 summer seasons.
Ballam is also justly proud our five hallmark educational programs created over the years.
They include Opera by Children (25 years); the Utah Festival Conservatory for the Performing Arts (13 years); Broadway Bound (13 years); the Utah High School Musical Theatre Awards (12 years); and Utah Festival Academy (14 years).
Ballam says that about 117,000 school children in grades kindergarten through 12 helped to create 3,700 original operas in the Opera by Children program.
The conservatory program attracted children aged 8 to 18 and the Broadway Bound attracted children aged 13 to 18.
Over the years, 341 schools, 452 productions and 39,000 students participated in the Utah High School Musical Theatre Awards.
The Utah Festival Academy provided adult education for theater-goers.
As an added feature, the Utah Festival Conservatory, in conjunction with the Utah High School Musical Theatre Awards, will produce a student version of Les Misérables at the conclusion of the UFOMT season.
Ballam is also particularly happy to be performing The Tender Land outdoors at the Gary Griffin farm in Millville. That respected opera of Americana by Aaron Copland will be staged July 21 and 23.
“Like Quixote,” Ballam said, “my fervent hope is that ‘I have brought some measure of grace into the world’.
“Thank you for believing in our vision and our glorious quest,” Ballam added.