Logan Utah Home of Utah Festival Opera

Utah Festival Opera is one of the world's best opera companies.

Ranked by “Money Magazine” as one of the world’s top 20 summer opera festivals, the Utah Festival Opera has certainly made a name for itself.

I wonder if back in 1993, when Michael Ballam founded the company, he thought it would reach to such acclaim…I bet he did.

Utah Festival Opera

Vanessa Ballam as Maria and the Von Trapp children sing in "The Sound of Music."
Vanessa Ballam as Maria and the Von Trapp children sing in "The Sound of Music."

Michael Ballam founder of the Utah Festival Opera.

First, you might be wondering just who Michael Ballam is.  Michael Ballam is an opera singer of grand distinction.  He has performed in the most important Concert Halls of every continent.  I could go on and on expounding on his vast list of accomplishments and accolades, but I believe that the most important thing I could say about Michael Ballam is that he is a lover of music. He believes that music has a healing power that reaches to your soul. When I think of profoundly good music, I think of Michael Ballam.   Because he is a lover of music, he is also a teacher of music. He has taught all kinds of music, from the University level down to the elementary level, always imploring the student to let music influence them for good.  Michael Ballam, accomplished pianist, oboist, and opera singer is a voice for wholesome music.   It is a quiet voice that can be heard resounding through the hills of Northern Utah, and spreading across the world, as he brings the Utah Festival Opera to the forefront of the Opera industry. 

Utah Festival Opera in Logan, Utah

The Beautiful Ellen Eccles Theatre

An inside view of the Ellen Eccles Theatre in Logan, Utah.
An inside view of the Ellen Eccles Theatre in Logan, Utah.

The Exterior of the Ellen Eccles Theatre

Restored to its original beauty, the Ellen Eccles theatre can be seen on Main Street in Logan.
Restored to its original beauty, the Ellen Eccles theatre can be seen on Main Street in Logan.

The Ellen Eccles Theatre

The Ellen Eccles Theatre is the home of the Utah Festival Opera. The theater itself has had an interesting past.

Built in 1890, the theater was originally called the Thatcher Opera House. It was built at the top of the Thatcher Bank Building on the corner of Main Street and Center, in Logan, Utah. It was considered to be a modern structure for its time with steam heat, and indoor plumbing and electricity. The vaudeville circuit performed there, along with a band and orchestra that used the building when they were not touring the state.

In 1906 there was over 66 different programs in the theater ranging from plays, concerts, operas, movies, and vaudeville shows. Unfortunately the Thatcher Opera House experienced a major setback when, in April of 1912, a fire, that was started in the basement of an adjoining building spread and burned the Thatcher Opera House down. The Newspaper headlines for the area read, “WORST FIRE IN CACHE VALLEY HISTORY”. In smaller print to the right was the headline of the sinking of the Titanic, which had over a thousand deaths. I guess you can see the importance the Opera House held in the eyes of the local citizens.

Utah Festival Opera performs The Crucible

The Crucible at Utah Festival Opera: from left, Jeff Monette as Thomas Putnam, Rachel Sliker as Ann Putnam, Lori Brown Mirabal as Tituba, and Michael Jones as the Reverend Parris Photo: Ken Howard
The Crucible at Utah Festival Opera: from left, Jeff Monette as Thomas Putnam, Rachel Sliker as Ann Putnam, Lori Brown Mirabal as Tituba, and Michael Jones as the Reverend Parris Photo: Ken Howard

Get ready for the opera in Logan, Utah.

The Capitol Theater transforms into the Ellen Eccles Theater

The Thatchers were devastated by the loss, but soon began to envision an even bigger, better, and more ornate replacement. It wasn’t until 1923, some 12 years later, that the new theater was built at the astonishing cost of $250,000 and was called the Capitol Theater. The Capitol Theater became the heart of cultural activities in Cache Valley. Live performances like Abbot and Costello gave way to films during the 1930’s and finally, when television emerged in the 1950’s, the theater began to be neglected.

It was during the 1980’s, when talk of demolishing the theater was heard, that a grass roots effort was made to save this piece of history which had fallen in to grave disrepair. A $4.3 million dollar project, gave way to the now fully restored Capitol Theater, complete with its stunning murals and elaborate stage. When the theater was reopened in January, 1993, it was renamed the Ellen Eccles Theatre in honor of the early Logan resident and philanthropist Ellen Stoddard Eccles.

Show Boat, Utah Festival Opera

Notice the grandeur of the sets that are part of the production at the Ellen Eccles Theatre.
Notice the grandeur of the sets that are part of the production at the Ellen Eccles Theatre.

Come to the Ellen Eccles Theatre for the Utah Festival Opera.

Almost like the “Field of Dreams”, the Ellen Eccles Theatre, with the help of Michael Ballam, has experienced the phenomenon of “if you build it they will come.”

And come they do… to the Utah Festival Opera.

Steal a kiss at the opera at the Ellen Eccles Theatre

Check out Utah Festival Opera Calendar of Events

Offering a wide variety of events including productions of grand opera, operetta, light opera and Broadway-style musical theater, the 2011 Utah Festival Opera season runs from July 6 through August 6. The four productions receiving top billing are Don Giovanni, Oliver, South Pacific, and Boris Godunov.

Listen to the amazing sound of the opera.

2006 Production of The Marriage of Figaro.

Figaro (Kristopher Irmiter), Susanna (Suzanne Woods), the Countess Almaviva (Kara Shay Thomson) and Count Almaviva (Darrell Babidge) in Utah Festival Opera's production of "The Marriage of Figaro."
Figaro (Kristopher Irmiter), Susanna (Suzanne Woods), the Countess Almaviva (Kara Shay Thomson) and Count Almaviva (Darrell Babidge) in Utah Festival Opera's production of "The Marriage of Figaro."

Music in the mountains in Logan, Utah.

For a cultural experience you will never forget, come listen to the sound of music in the mountains as performed by the Utah Festival Opera at the Ellen Eccles Theatre in Logan, Utah. 

Come see the historic Ellen Eccles Theatre in Logan, Utah.

A markerEllen Eccles Theatre -
43 S Main St, Logan, UT 84321, USA
[get directions]

(435) 752-0026

More by this Author


Comments 7 comments

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Thank you for all your information about an area we don't hear anything about. fantastic hub.


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

It sounds like a fantastic festival- and the theater is gorgeous too. I seriously need to visit Utah, and when I do, I hope I can see this firsthand!


In The Doghouse profile image

In The Doghouse 6 years ago from California Author

@Hello, hello- Logan is a little secret that simply must be shared. Besides the beauty of the city itself, the Utah Festival Opera offers culture and art to the surrounding areas.


In The Doghouse profile image

In The Doghouse 6 years ago from California Author

@SimoneSmith- I bet you would love the productions at the Ellen Eccles Theatre... and Logan is such a beautiful city too.


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 6 years ago from Nashville Tn.

Wonderful hub and beautiful photos. I have heard of Logan but had no idea about the Opera, etc. Thanks so much!


wbloss 6 years ago

Besides the wonderful 5 week season of the Opera, the Cache Valley Center for the Arts which operated the theatre, offers a full season September to May of outstanding touring artists including dance, music, drama etc. See www.EllenEcclesTheatre.org for current year-round info


In The Doghouse profile image

In The Doghouse 6 years ago from California Author

@vocalcoach- I hope you get a chance to visit Logan and the Utah Festival Opera. It is an experience that you will totally love!

@wbloss-Thanks for the additional information about the Ellen Eccles Theatre and the Cache Valley Center for the Arts. It sounds like there is a lot more going on than I mentioned in the Hub.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working