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USU Opera Theater takes a stab at performing ‘La Finta Giardiniera’ with a full symphony

MozartBy Ford Rasmussen | Jan. 20, 2017

For the first time in years, those who attend Utah State’s Opera Theater will hear the performance accompanied by a full orchestra.

The USU Symphony Orchestra has teamed up with the USU Opera Theater to perform Mozart’s “La Finta Giardiniera,” starting Feb. 2.

“It’s the first time in my stay that it’s happened,” said Benjamin Krutsch, one of the students who will be appearing in the opera, of the collaboration between the school’s opera theater and symphony orchestra. Krutsch has been at Utah State since 2013.

The orchestra will be directed by Daniel Helfgot of San Jose, California — a perennial guest director at Utah’s Opera Festival in Logan since 2006. Helfgot’s repertoire includes more than 220 productions, including six other operas by Mozart.

“This is the first production I’ve done at USU with a director of his caliber,” said the department’s musical director, Dallas Heaton.

The cast has been practicing six days a week in preparation for the show.

“Mounting a show so early in the semester always means a big crunch for time to get the blocking solidified for the actors and the sets constructed in time,” Heaton said.

“La Finta Giardiniera,” is one of Mozart’s lesser-known works, written when the composer was still in his teens. Parts of the opera were lost for nearly 200 years before being re-discovered in the 1970s.

Heaton hopes Mozart’s name will draw people out to see the work.

“We will have a beautiful piece on our hands that will have been a memorable educational experience for all involved,” Heaton said.

The production will run Feb. 2 through 4 at 7:30 p.m. in the Morgan Theatre. There will be a matinee performance Feb. 4 at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at music.usu.edu.