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SALY LAKE CITY — Since 2002, a unique and tragic scene was frozen in bronze in front of the Utah Opera's production studios — Orpheus looking back at his beloved Eurydice, only to lose her the moment he sees her.
The statues, worth tens of thousands of dollars, are now gone, presumably stolen. An employee of the opera studio found the statues missing Thursday morning, unbolted from the mounts.
David Green, senior vice president and COO of the Utah Symphony and Utah Opera, said they've been left dumbfounded.
"We have no idea why somebody would want to do that," he said.
Green said the area has its fair share of car thefts, and they've even had people walk into the building and take things. But never something like this.
The statues are made of bronze and aluminum, materials Green doesn't think would be worthwhile for scrapping. But he did note that the statues were carefully unbolted, not vandalized or broken during removal.
The statues previously sat in front of the building next to a wall honoring all the donors that helped get the building made.
"It's kind of a slight to all of those people — to the artists, to the organization, to the Utah Opera, to the Utah Symphony, to all the artists who were involved," he said. The statues were commissioned in 2002, and donated by the John and Marcia Price Family Foundation.
Given the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, the statues are particularly important to the opera, Green said. Orpheus, who was known as perhaps the best musician in all of Greek mythology, traveled all the way to the Underworld to win back his dead wife Eurydice.
Orpheus played and sang so beautifully that he was allowed to take her back to the land of the living, provided he did not look back at her before crossing the threshold. Of course, he does just that as soon as he crosses the threshold, but before she does, and she is taken back to the Underworld.
The story of Orpheus and Eurydice is one of the most popular stories in the history of opera, with hundreds following the tale. Many others feature the renowned musician in different contexts.
"(The statues are) very significant to us and probably not so significant to other people," he said.
Green said he's filed a police report and asked anyone with information on where the statues are to call the Salt Lake City police department. He said that if they aren't found, the opera will have to "regroup" and decide what should go there in the future.
"It's a pretty crazy thing to do," he said.