© 2021 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Union Avenue Opera sets sail, opens season with 'H.M.S. Pinafore'

Gilbert and Sullivan's “H.M.S Pinafore” opens Union Avenue Opera’s season.
John Lamb | Union Avenue Opera
Gilbert and Sullivan's “H.M.S Pinafore” opens Union Avenue Opera’s season.";s:3:

Union Avenue Opera (UAO) will open its 24th festival season July 6 on a light note with the Gilbert and Sullivan comedic operetta, “H.M.S. Pinafore.” It was one of the British duo’s most famous pieces and their first big hit, UAO founder and artistic director Scott Schoonover explained to St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh.

The operetta, which pokes fun at British politics and the Royal Navy, opened in 1878 in London and soon garnered audiences across the pond. “By 1879, there were 100 performances running concurrently in the United States,” Schooner said. “It’s been a very popular show since its very inception and it certainly remains one of the most famous of the Gilbert and Sullivan works.”

From “Pinafore,” the UAO season moves to Verdi’s grand opera classic, “Nabucco,” opening July 27. Its selection is due, in part, to the opera’s strong showing on audience surveys, much to Schoonover’s surprise.

“I think partially it was because the Metropolitan Opera has been doing these broadcasts in theaters and there was a wonderful production of ‘Nabucco’ they did very recently, and I think maybe that’s how it got its way into people’s minds,” Schoonover said.

Schoonover explained his approach to programming the season is to find something for everyone.

“We want to try to find something that’s a little lighter, we want to do a big, important language piece, Italian opera, and then the third piece is sort of a wild card,” he said.

The wild card this season is “Lost in the Stars,” opening August 17, the company’s first production of a work by Kurt Weill. Set in the 1940s apartheid in South Africa, it explores the theme of racial inequality.

“It seems very much like today’s climate, which is so sad, and such a commentary on where we are today, but it has a lot of relevance, certainly,” Schoonover observed.

Related Events

What: Gilbert and Sullivan’s "H.M.S. Pinafore"
When: 8:00 p.m. July 6, 7, 13 and 14, 2018

What: Verdi’s "Nabucco" 
When: 8:00 p.m. July 27 and 28, August 3 and 4, 2018

What: Kurt Weill’s "Lost in the Stars" 
When: 8:00 p.m. August 17, 18, 24 and 25, 2018
Where: Union Avenue Christian Church (733 N. Union Blvd., St. Louis, MO, 63108)

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex HeuerEvie Hemphill and Caitlin Lally give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

Stay Connected
Mary Edwards came to St. Louis Public Radio in 1974, just after finishing her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She has served the station in a number of capacities over the years. From 1988-2014 she also taught an undergraduate class in radio production at Webster University. Mary was inducted into the St. Louis Media History Foundation Media Hall of Fame in April, 2017 and received the Gateway Media Literacy Partners' Charles Klotzer Media Literacy Award in 2012. Mary retired from St. Louis Public Radio in 2018, but still serves the station as a St. Louis Symphony Producer.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.