- DYING ON STAGE: Once again, the Utah Festival Opera in Logan has cranked up a stellar summer season.
And once again, Michael Ballam and friends have recruited some of the finest talent around to spend a "working vacation" in Cache Valley and belt out a few arias.But, alas, a lot of big names got away this year.
Gov. Mike Leavitt was going to take a role in the opera "Gianni Schicchi" but couldn't work it into his schedule.
Sen. Orrin Hatch was recruited to replace him, but he too had to bow out before ever taking a bow.
Luckily, Sen. Robert Bennett, Frank Layden and several other Utah celebrities have agreed to perform in their place.
They will all play hapless Buoso Donati, a corpse that haunts Gianni Schicchi. Or, as the corpse is called in opera circles, "The Worthy."
"It's a fun role," says Mary Shearer, artistic administrator for UFOC. "They get to wear a big old nightcap, big old nightshirt and a big old nose. They even get to come out for a bow at the end."
Too bad Al Gore isn't available. He'd be a natural.
And Layden should do well in the part.
Hold the phony nose.
"The corpse is in a bed that has a trap door," says Shearer, "so the Worthy can slip out and be replaced by a dummy for most of the opera. The dummy gets stuffed into a trunk, gets tugged around. It's great fun."
Hatch and Leavitt have agreed to be "Honorary Buosos" this time around.
Now if the director can just remember who's the dummy, and who isn't.
- VITAL INFO: Never let it be said you finish this column knowing less than when you began.
Here's some information that has likely escaped you. I take it from a new book called "Stumpers! Answers to Hundreds of Questions that Stumped the Experts." The problem is the questions have a dozen possible answers. In other words, the book's a lot like life.
Question: Why do we say "Holy Toledo"?
It is a sarcastic term criticizing Toledo, Ohio, for having more saloons than churches.
It refers to the holy city of Toledo, Spain.
Gangsters in the 1920s used the term because the cops in Toledo, Ohio, were lenient.
Vaudeville performers suffered from poor business during Holy Week. Attendance in Toledo was so bad over Easter weekend, in fact, they mocked the town as "Holy Toledo."
Billy Sunday, the evangelist, called the town Holy Toledo during one of his revival meetings in 1908.
Take your pick. I'm going with the vaudeville guys. "Holy Toledo" sounds like a term coined by wiseacres.