When Union Avenue Opera opens its 2014 season on July 11 with Verdi’s La Traviata, it will be with a company that is vastly different than the one that mounted its first production 20 years ago. UAO founding artistic director and conductor Scott Schoonover recalled that he had just finished his degree, wanted a chance to conduct and knew a number of singers who needed work. He had just moved to St. Louis to take the position as music director of Union Avenue Christian Church and the church encouraged him to mount an opera there. Schoonover told Cityscape host Steve Potter, “I had my friends come in from all over, and we put on a show that very first year…with a very tiny budget, $5,000, a string quartet instead of an orchestra and we made the sets and costumes ourselves. Of course, it’s all changed a lot since then.”
Schoonover said the company chose to reprise La Traviata to begin its 20th season to show how far it has come since the production 12 years ago. “The last time we did this we didn’t have an orchestra pit, we had a stage just half the size, we had a very teeny, tiny chorus. We had an even smaller orchestra than we have now, all sorts of things. We wanted to pay a little better homage to the piece. It’s also one of my favorites.”
UAO’s production of La Traviata features soprano Zulimar López-Hernández in the role of Violetta and tenor Riccardo Iannello as Alfredo. Both singers are making their St. Louis debuts in the production. They joined Schoonover in commenting on each of their character’s role in the plot of the opera which revolves around Alfredo’s love for the courtesan Violetta, whether she will return his love and Alfredo’s father Germont’s (played in the UAO production by Robert Garner) efforts to thwart their relationship.
Union Avenue Opera’s 20th season continues with Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire on August 1, 2 8 and 9 and concludes with Siegfried, the third in Jonathan Dove’s reduction of Wagner’s Ring cycle on August 22, 23, 29 and 30.
Union Avenue Opera Presents Verdi's "La Traviata"
July 11, 12, 18 and 19, 2014
Union Avenue Opera Presents Previn's "A Streetcar Named Desire"
August 1, 2, 8 and 9, 2014
Union Avenue Opera Presents Jonathan Dove's Reduction of Wagner's "Siegfried"
August 22, 23, 29 and 30, 2014
Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 N. Union Blvd.
(314) 361-2881 Union Avenue Opera Website