Ballet West Presents Exquisite Double Utah Premiere

Stanton Welch's MADAME BUTTERFLY and Mark Morris' GONG take to the ballet stage just in time for Valentine's Day

SALT LAKE CITY - Ballet West presents the perfect Valentine's date with a double Utah premiere - Stanton Welch's Madame Butterfly and Mark Morris' Gong, February 13, 14 and 18-21 at the Capitol Theatre. Performances of Madame Butterfly and Gong will also be held at the Val A. Browning Center on the Weber State University Campus in Ogden on February 27 and 28 at 7:30 p.m.

Set to Puccini's memorable score, in an arrangement by John Lanchbery, Madame Butterfly unfolds dramatically on Peter Farmer's picturesque sets, which beautifully evoke the mystery and languor of nineteenth century Japan.  Mark Morris' exotic and pulsating Gong features vibrant costumes by fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi and an energetic score by Colin McPhee. Ballet West becomes the third company in the world to perform this fascinating piece.

Stanton Welch's romantic and tragic Madame Butterfly is a two-act work that tells the story of the beautiful geisha Cio-Cio-San who renounces her faith and her family to wed Lieutenant Pinkerton, the handsome but cynical American naval officer who is betrothed to another.  The centerpiece of the work is a ravishing wedding night pas de deux for Pinkerton and Cio-Cio-San, which closes the first act.

In the October 24, 2002 edition of The Times, Allen Robertson praised Mark Morris' Gong , calling it "a playful romp steeped in Orientalist posturings sparked off by a fabulous, energetic, gamelan-inspired score by Colin McPhee...With golden bands round their ankles and sheathed from head to toe in the designer Isaac Mizrahi's vibrant colours, the 15 dancers are a neon rainbow splintering into shards of sharp, scampering movement that is both tongue-in-cheek and grandly serious."  

Performances of Madame Butterfly will be accompanied by the Utah Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Terence Kern. Guest Conductor Adam Flatt of Colorado Ballet will direct the Orchestra during the performances of Gong. Evening shows begin at 7:30 p.m., February 13, 14 and 18-21, with matinees on February 14 and 21 at 2:00 p.m.

In conjunction with the performances of Madame Butterfly and Gong , Ballet West is offering Warm Ups. These fun and informative discussions are free of charge to ticket holders and will begin promptly one hour prior to each performance . Get the inside scoop on the evening's program including background on the ballet, information on the choreographer and other interesting behind-the-scenes facts. At Warm Ups , members of the Ballet West artistic staff are available to answer any questions that the audience might have.

Single tickets can be purchased through the ArtTix Box Office, 50 West 200 South, or at any ArtTix outlet by calling 355-ARTS or online at www.arttix.org .  Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more by calling Ballet West's Groups Sales line at (801) 869-6966.