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LOGAN -- As the economy improves little by little, Utah's arts organizations with big summer seasons are seeing financial success with destination vacations. The Utah Festival Opera in Logan is calling 2010 a great season.
Logan once was called "The Athens of the West." It was a Mecca of art when the Union Pacific Railroad made its first stop there from Denver. That vision is returning in the form of Utah Festival Opera founder Michael Ballam and a lifelong friend.
Every summer the principle artists of Utah Festival Opera invite audiences to get to know their hit tunes. The beauty of Cache Valley and the warmth of the people of Logan draw the performers.
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Michelle Trovato, the festival's 2009 competition winner, says, "Growing up in a small town on Long Island, it reminds me a lot of my hometown. So, to feel that kind of joy when you meet people on the street here is something you definitely want to return to."
Elizabeth Brooks is this year's winner. She's originally from Dallas, Texas, but now lives in New York City.
"This is my second season in Logan and I absolutely love it here," she says. "It is beautiful and the people are wonderful. This company is wonderful."
The season includes "The Sound of Music," "La Traviata," "Guys and Dolls" and "The Barber of Seville."
"The audiences have been up over any other season, which is wonderful given the present state of the economy," says founder and general director Michael Ballam. "Some of our colleagues have had a difficult time. I'm knocking on wood. Fortunately we're doing better than ever."
So, Ballam is celebrating all of that and more as two boyhood friends who grew up to be internationally-recognized musical talents are reunited. Next week brings Craig Jessop's American Festival Chorus and Verdi's Requiem.
Dr. Craig Jessop, who is now the dean of the Caine School of the Arts at Utah State University adds, "We decided it would be great to join our forces. This is a unique community and a very musical community."
Utah Festival Opera productions run through Aug. 7.