Utah Symphony Utah Opera: Re-imagining the concert experience

Like many organizations, the Utah Symphony Utah Opera (USUO) were forced to adapt their operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With numerous performances, events, and productions put on hold, USUO adapted its operations in innovative ways to continue engaging with patrons.

By facing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic head-on, USUO created long-lasting plans for improved patron experiences, increased access to performances, and engaging interactions with the public.

During its six-month break from live performances, USUO continued to provide Utahn’s with countless virtual performances, interactive experiences, bringing in some previous audience favorite guest artists.

Experiences included celebrating its 80th birthday with virtual performances and on-demand streaming, and “quarantunes” performances from the homes of musicians and Utah Opera resident artists.

After a six-month hiatus, USUO returned live to Abravanel Hall and the Janet Quinney Lawson Capitol Theatre in the fall of 2020 with maximum audiences of 400 and 250, respectively, adhering to the health department’s approved safety plan. Shorter programs without intermissions minimized risk and allowed audiences to return to live performances. This return to performances included using a mobile app for contactless tickets, a digital playbill, and expanded calendars to allow for more patrons to attend performances. 

USUO also offered tickets to the second annual ¡Celebración Sinfónica! concert free of charge for advance registrations. Scheduled October 2020 productions were re-imagined to create two one-act Operas, with double the number of performances to accommodate audience members. 

One long-lasting program that resulted because of the closures is the launch of USUO’s streaming platform, USUO: ON Demand, to offer performances online. Utah Symphony musicians, Opera resident artists, and 13 chamber ensembles of Utah Symphony musicians recorded short concerts to be released on this new platform. This platform allows artists to delve into their repertoire of less-often performed pieces and let audiences experience new and unusual pieces.