Union Avenue Opera

Clay Hilley as Siegfried, Alexandra LoBianco as Brünnhilde
John Lamb | Union Avenue Opera

On the way home Friday night from the Union Avenue Opera on North Union Boulevard, I landed in the middle of a beehive at the intersection of Euclid and Maryland avenues. The place is always busy, but on weekend evenings it's especially alive. However, this Friday the corner drew many more police officers than usual, including the chief, Sam Dotson.

Alderman Lyda Krewson was there; so were many worried longtime residents of the neighborhood. There were tourists from St. Louis County and beyond -- parents bringing their kids to college. Lots of folks were hanging out in the bars and outdoor cafes drinking up a storm. Gridlock-causing motorists, either just cruisin’ or looking for parking places or glimpses of civil disobedience, were in abundance.

Clay Hilley as Siegfried, Alexandra LoBianco as Brünnhilde
John Lamb | Union Avenue Opera

Union Avenue Opera (UAO) concludes its 21st season along with its four-year production of Wagner’s ‘Ring cycle’ with the final opera in the series, “Götterdämmerung.”

Union Avenue Opera's "Rigoletto"
John Lamb | Union Avenue Opera

Musicologists have had a field day divvying up the operas of the towering Italian genius Giuseppe Verdi. “Rigoletto” -- performed this weekend with artistic muscle and dramatic agility by Union Avenue Opera – is pigeonholed in his middle period, along with  Il trovatore and La traviata.

Galen Scott Bower sings the title role in Union Avenue Opera's Don Giovanni
John Lamb | Union Avenue Opera

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s 19th opera – the one sandwiched between “The Marriage of Figaro” and “Cosi fan tutte,” is described regularly and superlatively with the word “perfection.” This opera is “Don Giovanni,” presented over the weekend by Union Avenue Opera in a production conducted by Scott Schoonover and directed by Jon Truitt. Two more performances are to come, on Friday and Saturday, June 17 and 18, at 8 p.m..

Courtesy Union Avenue Opera

Union Avenue Opera opens its 21st festival season on July 10 with Mozart’s “Don Giovanni.” When “Cityscape" host Steve Potter pointed out that age 21 in people usually indicates adulthood, UAO Artistic Director Scott Schoonover responded, “We have actually played around with that imagery, thinking about coming into our own at 21. We actually have a pretty serious season this year … a bit heavier in that sense. I think people will still enjoy it and get a lot out of it, but coming into our own, yes.”

Ron Lindsey

St. Louisans have seen the play "A Streetcar Named Desire." Now they have an opportunity to see the opera.

Quoting an original 1947 New York Daily News review of Tennessee Williams’ play, director Chris Limber said the reviewer pointed out “the tragic overtones of grand opera.”

Nearly 50 years later, composer André Previn was asked to turn the play into an opera. According to soprano Katherine Giaquinto, who plays Stella Kowalski in the Union Avenue Opera production, Previn responded: “The time it’ll take me to say yes is as long as it takes for me to hang up the phone.”

Union Avenue Opera

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.

(Courtesy Union Avenue Opera)

When one thinks of Wagner’s Ring cycle, what comes to mind is a huge cast, orchestra and set which can only be performed in the world’s largest opera houses.  But Union Avenue Opera has brought the Ring to St. Louis thanks to the reduction and adaptation by composer Jonathan Dove and stage director Graham Vick. The company will mount the second opera, Die Walkure, on August 16, 17, 23 and 24.

Ron Lindsey

Union Avenue Opera opens its Nineteenth Festival Season with Leonard Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti. Written in 1952, the one act opera portrays the troubled marriage of a young suburban couple, Sam and Dinah, and follows the roller coaster of emotion as they try to reconcile their love.  Although Bernstein set his opera in the 1950’s, the Union Avenue Opera production moves the action to the present day.