Scott Schoonover | St. Louis Public Radio

Scott Schoonover

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

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.

Melissa Parks sings the role of Katisha in Union Avenue Opera's season opening production of "The Mikado."
Union Avenue Opera

The curtain rises on Union Avenue Opera’s 22nd Festival Season on July 8 with a new adaptation of Gilbert and Sullivan’s classic, “The Mikado.” 

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, contributor Steve Potter was joined by mezzo soprano Melissa Parks who sings the role of Katisha in “The Mikado.” Also joining the program were Eric Gibson, who directs the production, and Scott Schoonover, Union Avenue Opera’s artistic director and conductor, to discuss the production and preview the two other productions in the 2016 season.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Many of Allyson Ditchey’s St. Louis friends passionately love Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” but tell her they don’t like opera. “I tell friends that they should come to ‘Trouble in Tahiti’,” says Ditchey, the production’s stage manager.

“They will love this music, very Bernstein. It’s a perfect introduction to opera. It’s in English with supertitles. And the story is very smart, as relevant today as it was when he wrote it” in 1951.

“Trouble in Tahiti” opens Union Avenue Opera’s 19th season at 8 p.m. April 19.

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.

Winter Opera grows into new theater, new offices

Jan 17, 2012

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 17, 2012 - It's opera time in St. Louis, again. Winter is opera season in much of the Western world, but until 2008, no St. Louis company regularly offered opera between August and mid-May.

Cosima von Bonin, MISSY MISDEMEANOUR #02 (THE BEIGE VOMITING CHICK, MISS RILEY[LOOP #02, 2006], MVOS VODOO BEAT & MVOS ROCKET BLAST BEAT), 2011. Installation at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum.
Whitney Curtis | Provided | Beacon archives

This article first appeared in St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 29, 2011 - Is a velvet Elvis painting, art? What about a guitarist playing on the street for tips?

Polling local performance and visual artists, the Beacon found a pretty good consensus: Art doesn't have to cost money or be vetted by an institution.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 15, 2011 - Great drama - whether opera, stage or movie - can powerfully focus its audience and encourage them to chew on ideas long after the final bows. Great drama may change hearts and minds.

Even so, it is pretty rare that any drama is so compelling that, after more than two full weeks of rehearsals, actors and staff still react with tears running down their cheeks.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 23, 2011 - Some St. Louisans plan to lift their spirits above the unrelenting dog days with an evening of ravishingly beautiful music in a tale of good people triumphing over self-centered meanies. Gioacchino Rossini's "La Cenerentola" or "Goodness Triumphant" opens Friday July 29.

The opera includes some of Rossini's finest music and was written when he was 25, just after his masterpiece "The Barber of Seville."

New Opera St. Louis plans to warm up winter

Aug 26, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 26, 2008 - One recent summer in Philadelphia, soprano Gina Galati and her musical friends bemoaned the lack of opera in St. Louis during winter months.

Instead of just complaining, Galati, who had never directed before, assembled a group of singers from scratch in August 2007. She excited donors, who gave money and their homes for singers' residence. They would perform Rigoletto in February 2008.