MichaelBallam.com
Home > Biography
 
Michael Ballam
Biography

Michael Ballam has received critical acclaim with the major opera companies of the USA and a recital career in the most important Concert Halls of every continent. His operatic repertoire includes more than 700 performances of over 100 major roles sharing the stage with the world's greatest singers. including Roberta Peters, Jerome Hines, Joan Sutherland, Kiri Te Kanawa, Birgit Nilsson, Beverly Sills, Placido Domingo and Ethel Merman performing regularly with such companies as the Chicago Lyric, San Francisco, Santa Fe, Dallas, Washington, Philadelphia, St. Louis and San Diego Operas.

At the age of 24, Mr. Ballam became the youngest recipient of the degree of Doctor of Music with Distinction in the history of Indiana University. An accomplished pianist and oboist, he is the Founder and General Director of the Utah Festival Opera, which is fast becoming one of the nation's major Opera Festivals. Professor of Music for the past 24 years at Utah State University, he has also been a faculty member at Indiana University, The Music Academy of the West, University of Utah, Brigham Young University (where he was awarded the Teaching Award in Continuing Education in 1992) and guest lecturer at Stanford, Yale, BYU Idaho, Catholic University and Manhattan School of Music.

In 1987, Dr. Ballam became aware that the Capitol Theatre on Main Street in Logan, Utah, had changed ownership for the first time since its debut in 1923. Originally used as an opera house, ballet recital hall, vaudeville house, roadhouse and movie palace, it became closed to live performances in 1958. From that point forward, the theater was used only for motion picture screening. With changing tastes in motion pictures, a 1,500-seat auditorium was too large for movies from the 1970's on. In 1982, the Capitol began showing only second and third run films and fell into disrepair and misuse. Having performed on that stage in 1956 at the age of 5, Ballam had a great love for the theater and knew the magic she was capable of creating.

Concerned that the theater may be torn down, or altered to a different use, he approached the new owner Eugene Needham III, asking him to give the theater to Logan City. Explaining his vision of restoring the theater to its original glory, it became the property of the people of the region. Thus began a 5 year, $6.5 million dollar renovation, expanding the stage house, and linking with what became the Bullen (Arts) Center, the newly named Ellen Eccles Theatre opened on January 8, 1993 becoming the new home of the Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre, (UFOMT) founded by Ballam.

The Festival's 1993 Inaugural Season contained an opera, two operettas and one musical. It soon rose to national then international prominence, growing from an annual budget of $300,000 to $4,500,000 in 2019. During its 27 seasons, UFOMT has produced a total of 181 productions, employing 21 full-time employees and over 300 seasonal employees.

In 1998 Ballam renovated the Historic Dansante Building, a 45,000 square foot arts facility, containing 4 rehearsal spaces, 10 practice rooms, 12 executive offices, reception center, dining room, auditorium, set, props and costume shops. In 2016 Ballam completed the renovation of the Utah Theatre, a 1923 movie house, now transformed into a state-of-the-art Performing Arts Center capable of any form of performance, containing a full-fly stage house, proscenium, orchestra pit, rehearsal space, dressing rooms, rooftop garden and a Mighty Wurlitzer Organ. During his 52 year career as a professional opera singer he has produced, directed or starred in 349 professional productions.

He is the author of over 40 publications and recordings in international distribution, has a weekly radio program on Utah Public Radio, starred in 3 major motion pictures and appears regularly on television. Dr. Ballam serves on the Board of Directors of twelve professional Arts organizations. In 1996 he was designated one of the 100 Top Achievers in the State of Utah by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of the U.K., appointed Artist Extraordinaire by the Governor of Utah in 2003, given Honorary Life Membership to the Utah Congress of Parents and Teachers, received the "Excellence in Community Teaching Award" from the Daughters of the American Revolution in 2007 and was awarded the Gardner Award by the Utah Academy of Science, Arts and Letters, for "Significant Contributions in the Humanities to the State of Utah" in 2010.

 

© Phoenix Productions