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.”
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.
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.
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.