With performances that have been called poetic, earthy, vigorous and highly individual, conductor Ari Pelto is in demand at elite opera houses, ballets, symphonies and conservatories throughout the United States. Since his 2004 début at New York City Opera with Verdi’s La Traviata, Mr. Pelto has been engaged as a regular guest there, returning for Madama Butterfly (“to die for” according to the New York Sun), Jennifer Griffith’s The Dream President, La Bohème, and Carmen. Recent highlights and upcoming opera house engagements include La Bohème with the Opera Theatre of St. Louis and the St. Louis Symphony, The Cunning Little Vixen at Chautauqua (where he “led a taut, rakish, and, at the right times, sentimental reading of this tricky score,” according to Opera Today), Rusalka and Bohème at Boston Lyric, Romeo et Juliet at Minnesota Opera, The Magic Flute, Figaro, and Hansel and Gretel at Portland Opera, as well as Carmen and Hansel and Gretel at Utah Opera.
He has also been a regular guest conductor of the Atlanta Ballet. Of a performance of Prokofiev’s Cinderella, the Atlanta Journal Constitution wrote, “Under Ari Pelto’s baton, the orchestra has never sounded better, nor the chemistry between pit and stage been quite so palpable.” In 2012, he collaborated with Twyla Tharp on the premiere of her new ballet, The Princess and the Goblin.
Mr. Pelto has conducted operas of Mozart and Stravinsky at Curtis, Gluck and Mozart at Juilliard, Puccini and Massenet at San Francisco Conservatory, and Stephen Paulus and Raffaello de Banfield at the Manhattan School of Music. At the Oberlin Conservatory, he has led works of Mahler, Mozart and Poulenc, and at New York University, works of Sibelius and Brahms.
Mr. Pelto studied violin performance at Oberlin, and conducting at Indiana University.
Omer Ben Seadia
Israeli director Omer Ben Seadia is known for her inventive, thoughtful, and socially conscious productions. While garnering a name for herself in the classic repertoire, she has also won praise for developing and promoting new opera all over the world. Ms. Ben Seadia’s upcoming projects include a world premiere production of The Snowy Day (Joel Thompson, Andrea Davis Pinkney) at Houston Grand Opera, Carmen at Cincinnati Opera, The Merry Widow at Calgary Opera, Thumbprint (Kamala Sankaram, Susan Yankowitz) at Chautauqua Opera, Tosca at Utah Opera, Le nozze di Figaro at Madison Opera, and Rigoletto at Florentine Opera. Ms. Ben Seadia is set to return to the Aspen Music Festival to teach and direct in the summer of 2021. At the onset of the pandemic, Ms. Ben Seadia was in the process of developing a world premiere production of The Cut Glass Bowl (Hana Ajiashvili).
Ms. Ben Seadia began working extensively in the United States in 2012 after over a decade with the Israeli Opera. She grew up in the theater and fell in love with opera when she performed in her first production at the age of 15. She is deeply committed to the development and training of young artists, and has worked with young artists at the Houston Grand Opera Studio, Young Artist Vocal Academy (YAVA), the Ryan Opera Center (Lyric Opera of Chicago), Santa Fe Opera, the Merola Opera Program, Rice University, the International Vocal Arts Institute (IVAI), the Canadian Vocal Academy Institute (CVAC), the Aspen Music Festival, and the Dandelion Opera Institute.
She completed the prestigious opera directing program at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and was an Apprentice Stage Director at the Merola Opera Program. Ms. Ben Seadia is also a graduate of Seminar Ha’kibutzim, School of Performing Arts, with a degree in theater directing, as well as a teaching degree in theater education.
Michaella Calzaretta is in her fourth season as Chorus Master and Assistant Conductor at Utah Opera. Under her leadership, the opera chorus has garnered more and more recognition with each production. Of her work in Moby-Dick, Opera Today extolled her “superb choral preparation. Her large chorus was flawless in tonal beauty, dramatic engagement, and clarity of diction, even when performing busy stage movement.” In a review of Roméo et Juliette, Opera News praised “the strong performance of the Utah Opera Chorus, setting a reliably high standard under the direction of Chorus Master Michaella Calzaretta.” Partnership with the Utah Symphony has also been successful, as the opera chorus performed in a semi-staged presentation of Candide and provided vocals for live film concerts of Pirates of the Caribbean and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and for a streamed Messiah in December 2020.
This past October, Ms. Calzaretta made her mainstage conducting debut with select performances of The Human Voice and Gentleman’s Island. Ms. Calzaretta is completing a Doctorate in Choral Conducting at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, where she studied with Walter Huff, Betsy Burleigh, and Dominick DiOrio. She was the Music Director for the University Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Bloomington, as well as the Music Director for New Voices Opera, a student-run organization that commissions and produces operas by student composers. Ms. Calzaretta holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Simpson College and a Master of Music in Choral Conducting from the University of Missouri- Kansas City.
Zac is a Professor of Theatre at Salt Lake Community College where he teaches text and performance courses. He has his MFA in directing from The University of Idaho and is an Associate Instructor of Stage Combat with Dueling Arts International. Most recently, he has staged fights for Colorado Shakespeare Festival, University of Utah, Westminster College, and Pinnacle Acting Company. This is Zac’s second production with Utah Opera, after recently working on Silent Night. He spends all of his free moments with his talented wife, his future director daughter, and his future fight director son.
Lighting & Video Design
Tláloc’s designs have been seen at Ballet Virginia International, Lakes Area Festival, Pittsburg Opera, North Carolina Opera, Utah Opera, Opera Delaware, Opera On the James, Opera Naples, Castleton Festival, Brevard Music Center, Toledo Opera, Utah Festival Opera, Opera Roanoke, Shreveport Opera, Crested Butte Music Festival among many others. Some of these include: The Long Walk, Hydrogen Jukebox, The Ballad of Baby Doe, Sondheim on Sondheim, Cenerentola, Carmen, Street Scene, Die Zauberflöte, Amadeus, 9 to 5, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Sweeney Todd, South Pacific, Roméo et Juliette, Scalia/Ginsburg (world premier) Ulysses, Pirates of Penzance, Così fan tutte, Bovinus Rex (world premiere), Man of La Mancha, Salome, La bohème, The Marriage of Figaro, Madame Butterfly, The Crucible, Eugene Onegin, Il trovatore, La traviata, Falstaff, The Magic Flute, Tosca, Don Giovanni, among many others. He has an MFA in Design from NYU/Tisch.
Marneé Porter is a professional wig and makeup artisan specializing in theatrical and operatic work. Based in Utah, Marneé polished her expertise through productions at Utah Festival Opera, the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and Hale Centre Theatre in Sandy. She is also interested in creating makeup looks for print, fashion, and editorial. She has passion for all aspects of her field, especially in stylized and special effect makeup.
Starting her path as a makeup artist took its roots in an unlikely place—the Math Lab. After being introduced to this medium through a Stage Makeup Class, her creativity and interest helped make the important shift in her education. Marneé has a passion for working with performers and projects that are larger than life. She thrives on being a part of visual storytelling, through the transformative power of makeup and character creation.
Marneé completed her MFA in Wig Making and Makeup Design at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and also has a degree in Theatre Art Studies from Brigham Young University.