This July, Union Avenue Opera (UAO) will make its return to presenting live, in-person opera following a summer of cancellations due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. For the 2021Season, UAO will move its performances to The Big Top, in St Louis’ Grand Center district, for three exciting, socially distanced performances of both Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffmann and Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia.

“I am beyond thrilled that we have found a way to safely bring opera back to the city of St. Louis this summer. It is an incredible opportunity for us to be creative and offer audiences something different for this one unique season,” said UAO founding Artistic Director and conductor Scott Schoonover.

This summer, audiences will have the opportunity to see two classic, beloved operas in one week – even on the same day, as UAO will offer two matinee performances for the first time in eight years.

“The operas will unfold, acted in front of our wonderful orchestra on The Big Top stage with costumes and lights, to delight socially distanced crowds in the large open-air tent. I can’t wait to see our patrons again and hope that new audience members will come out as well, in support of this effort to put St. Louis artists, orchestra members and technicians back to work after this difficult year,” said Schoonover.

Operated by the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, The Big Top is Missouri ArtSafe Certified and will employ rigorous COVID-19 mitigation policies for the benefit of all guests, staff, and artists in its 1,200-person tent which will have reduced capacity for 2021. The Big Top will also employ a contact-less ticketing and concession experience for opera goers and masks will be required.

“I know those who attend will be moved in a special way by hearing live singing and orchestra again, and by seeing wonderful portrayals of these complex and sometimes hilarious characters in person. It certainly gives us all something which we can look forward to in the upcoming months. Finally, I would like to assure our loyal supporters that UAO fully intends to be back in its home venue next season with a full, 3-opera lineup.”

Single tickets range from $25 to $55 and will be available exclusively through MetroTix beginning June 1, for members of the public. All tickets must be purchased in advance either online at www.metrotix.com or by calling 314-534-1111 or 800-293-5949. UAO will utilize tiered on-sale dates for past subscribers and donors prior to the public on-sale date – more information regarding tiered ticket on-sale dates can be found online at www.unionavenueopera.org.

Brooklyn Snow

Offenbach’s: LES CONTES D’HOFFMANN
Three Performances: July 21 and 24 at 7:30PM and July 23 at 2:00PM
Presented in French with projected English supertitles
Conducted by Scott Schoonover
Staging by Mark Freiman

Offenbach’s grand French opera follows the poet Hoffmann as he searches for true love in a magical tale
of thwarted love, art, and revenge! Best known for the Barcarolle “Belle nuit, ô nuit d’amour,” “Chanson
de Kleinzach,” and the ultimate showcase of coloratura soprano singing, Olympia’s “Doll aria.” Les
contes d’Hoffmann is a haunting tale of one man’s desire for the perfect woman. Hounded by his other-worldly nemesis and accompanied by Nicklausse, his ever-faithful friend, Hoffmann seems forever unlucky in love. Darkly playful and set against fantastical backdrops and stirring chorus formations, the opera renders the story of Hoffmann’s descent into madness and intoxication in faithful detail

Under the baton of Artistic Director Scott Schoonover, lyric tenor William Davenport will make his UAO debut in the title role. Soprano Brooklyn Snow, who received high praise for her portrayal of Cunegonde in 2019’s Candide returns to sing the three heroines as Jeremiah Sanders makes his UAO debut as the opera’s four villains. Anthony Webb (Enoch Snow, Carousel) returns to sing the roles of the four servants and Emma Sorenson (Hänsel, Hänsel und Gretel) as Hoffmann’s faithful companion, Nicklausse.

Hoffmann – William Davenport*
Lindorf / Coppélius / Dappertutto / Dr. Miracle – Jeremiah Sanders*
Andrès / Spalanzani / Pittichinaccio / Frantz – Anthony Webb
Olympia / Giulietta / Antonia – Brooklyn Snow
Nicklausse – Emma Sorenson
Luther / Crespel – Joel Rogier
Hermann / Schlemil – Randell McGee
Nathanael / Cochenille – Anthony Heinemann
Voice of Antonia’s Mother – Liya Khaimova


Rossini’s: IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA
Three Performances: July 22 and 23 at 7:30PM and July 24 at 2:00PM
Presented in Italian with projected English supertitles
Conducted by Stephen Hargreaves
Staged by Jon Truitt

Figaro! Figaro! Figaro! Only the clever barber Figaro can help the fair Rosina outwit her guardian, the aging Dr. Bartolo and live out her days in the arms of her true love, Count Almaviva. A grand plan is hatched, full of mischievous escapades and inventive antics sure to delight audiences of all ages. This Rossini Italian classic features one of the most well-known pieces of music in history, Figaro’s “Largo al factotum” along with Rosina’s dazzling “Una voce poco fa.” Full of laughter and beautiful music, see why Il barbiere di Siviglia has been an audience favorite for more than two centuries.

No stranger to his role, Pedro Barbosa will make his UAO debut as Conte d’ Almaviva as Robert Mellon makes his UAO and role debut as the barber Figaro, and Janara Kellerman (Mrs. Herring, Albert Herring) makes her role debut as Rosina. Also returning are Andy Papas (Ko-Ko, H.M.S. Pinafore) as Dr. Bartolo, Erin Haupt (Hebe, H.M.S. Pinafore) as Berta, Isaiah Musik-Ayala (Colline, La bohème) as Basilio, as Stephen Hargreaves (Nabucco) conducts.

Conte d’ Almaviva – Pedro Barbosa*
Figaro – Robert Mellon*
Rosina – Janara Kellerman
Dr. Bartolo – Andy Papas
Basilio – Isaiah Musik-Ayala
Berta – Erin Haupt
Fiorello – Ben Worley

In anticipation of its season, UAO will bring classic opera front and center in its 2021 Opera in the Garden – Garden Concert Series this spring featuring thrilling operatic performances. Launched in 2018, as a House Concert Series, UAO moved the concerts outdoor last fall for the safety of its artists and patrons and were some of the first, live, operatic performances held in St. Louis during the pandemic.

Sunday, May 16 at 6:00PM
Our series starts in the Ladue garden of Margaret Gilleo and Charles Guenther with performances by UAO artists Leann Schuering, Anthony Heinemann, and Randell McGee with Nancy Mayo on piano. The concert will feature operatic favorites including “Je veux vivre” Roméo et Juliette, “Kuda, kuda” Eugene Onegin, “Caro nome” Rigoletto, “Cosa sento!” Trio from Le nozze di Figaro, “Refrain, audacious tar” – Duet from H.M.S. Pinafore.

Saturday, June 5 at 7:00PM
Join us as we return to the Compton Heights garden of Dr. Kenneth and Marjorie Smith and welcome back Metropolitan Opera soprano Mary Dunleavy for a special Saturday night concert. Ms. Dunleavy will present a selection of arias from opera’s favorite courtesans (such as Violetta, Manon, Madama Butterfly) as well as art songs by American composer Amy Beach with pianist Gail Hintz.

Sunday, June 27 at 6:00PM
We conclude our series in the in Webster Groves garden of Jack and Mary LaBarge as we introduce our very own Figaro, Robert Mellon alongside 2021 season artists Erin Haupt and Liya Khaimova with Nancy Mayo on piano. Concert highlights include “Largo al factotum” Il barbiere di Siviglia, “Elle a fui, la tourterelle” Les Contes d’Hoffmann, “Che faro senza Euridice” Orfeo, “Evening Prayer” duet from Hansel
and Gretel, and “Soave il vento” trio from Così fan tutte.

Tickets are $50 for individuals or $100 for Patron Seating which includes the best reserved seats and a $50 tax-deductible donation to UAO. Tickets are on sale now at www.unionavenueopera.org and must be ordered in advance (no door sales)

About Union Avenue Opera – UAO was founded in 1994 to bring affordable, professional, originallanguage opera to St. Louis, a mission the company continues to pursue to this day. UAO is committed to hiring the most talented artists, directors, designers and technicians both locally and from across the United States. UAO provides promising singers the first steppingstone of their professional career. The
company celebrated its 25th Anniversary Season in 2019 and offers vibrant and affordable opera experiences in original languages to audiences who reflect the breadth and diversity of the St. Louis region. UAO is a publicly supported 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization registered in Missouri. In 2018 UAO became an OPERA American Professional Company Member. OPERA America is the national
membership organization for artists, administrators and audiences, dedicated to support the creation, presentation and enjoyment of opera.

Financial assistance has been provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency, and with support
from the Regional Arts Commission, and funded in part by the Arts and Education Council.

Premiere of Tom Cipullo’s Glory Denied

UAO receives PNC Foundation grant to fund outreach and veteran/military discounts in conjunction with Glory DeniedComposer Tom Cipullo to attend opening night performance and participate in Talk-Back session following the opera Union Avenue Opera closes its 25th Anniversary Season with the St. Louis premiere of Tom Cipullo’s poignant and powerful 2007 opera, Glory Denied, Aug. 16-17 and 23-24.

The opera is based on a book with the same title by Tom Philpott that chronicles the true and harrowing story of America’s longest held prisoner of war, Colonel James “Jim” Thompson, who was held in Vietnam for almost nine years. The tale is communicated from the perspective of Jim and his wife Alyce and gives voice, often in a heart-rending fashion, to the much-overlooked struggles of American families during the Vietnam War and in the aftermath of the conflict.

St. Louis native, Dean Anthony makes his UAO directorial debut as Founding Artistic Director Scott Schoonover conducts. The opera employs only four singers in a unique concept wherein the character of Younger Jim Thompson (tenor, David Walton) – the prisoner of war, is often onstage and singing with the Older Thompson (baritone, Peter Kendall Clark in his UAO debut) – the eventually freed veteran. The two iterations of the same person nearly a decade a part which espouse differing perspectives and deal with separate issues. Similarly, Younger Alyce (soprano, Karina Brazas) and Older Alyce (soprano, Gina Galati) express what they experienced during Jim’s captivity and after his return home. It is a powerful juxtaposition that makes for a compelling evening of theater.

“Glory Denied is an emotional rollercoaster,” said UAO director, Dean Anthony. “People need to see Glory Denied, as it is the cause and effect on all sides. So often, the lives of POW’s have been forgotten and become a part of our past. The sacrifice and commitment of these women and men should never be forgotten, nor should the families who were back at home.”

In conjunction with its production of Glory Denied, UAO will engage veterans and the community through a series of outreach events thanks to a grant from the PNC Foundation through PNC Arts Alive, a multi-year initiative dedicated to supporting visual and performing arts. UAO will present a panel discussion, a free preview concert for veterans and active military at Soldiers Memorial War Museum, talk-back sessions following the performance, as well as its Know Before You Go Friday night lecture series.

Additionally, UAO has partnered with music therapist Sarah Michaelis to create a FREE program that incorporates creative music making and relaxation tailored to promote healing among veterans that will be taken into local veteran communities.

Glory Denied composer Tom Cipullo will be in the audience for the opening weekend of the opera and will participate in the opening night talk-back presentation after the performance.

About PNC Foundation – The PNC Foundation, which receives its principal funding from The PNC Financial Services Group (www.pnc.com), actively supports organizations that provide services for the benefit of communities in which it has a significant presence. The foundation focuses its philanthropic mission on early childhood education and community and economic development, which includes the arts and culture. Through Grow Up Great, its signature cause that began in 2004, PNC has created a bilingual $500 million, multi-year initiative to help prepare children from birth to age 5 for success in school and life.

About Union Avenue Opera – UAO was founded in 1994 to bring affordable, professional, original-language opera to St. Louis, a mission the company continues to pursue to this day. UAO is committed to hiring the most talented artists, directors, designers and technicians both locally and from across the United States. UAO provides promising young singers the first steppingstone of their professional career. UAO is a publicly supported 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization registered in Missouri. In 2018 UAO became an OPERA American Professional Company Member. OPERA America is the national membership organization for artists, administrators and audiences, dedicated to support the creation, presentation and enjoyment of opera. 

UAO offers vibrant and affordable opera experiences in original languages to audiences who reflect the breadth and diversity of the St. Louis region from the acoustically superb sanctuary of an historic church located in the urban Visitation Park neighborhood in St. Louis’ Central West End.

Financial assistance has been provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency, and with support from the Regional Arts Commission and PNC Foundation.

[PERFORMANCE INFORMATION FOLLOWS]

Tom Cipullo’s GLORY DENIED Four Performances: August 16, 17, 23, 24 at 8:00 PM Based on the novel “Glory Denied” by Tom Philpott Presented in English with English supertitles America’s longest-held prisoner of war dreams of coming home. But home is a place he will not recognize. Follow the gut-wrenching saga of Colonel Jim Thompson as he transitions from the jungles of Southeast Asia to the tree-lined streets of suburban America. Glory Denied speaks to the plight of so many of our veterans who nobly fought for their country but face huge challenges when it comes to re-assimilating into society—and their longed-for normal lives—after service. This true story explores the unimaginable bravery asked of soldiers and the nature of hope itself. It is a story of a nation divided and a country that changed significantly in the decade of his imprisonment. Tom Cipullo’s Glory Denied made waves in opera circles when it premiered a decade ago and continues to do so today. Single tickets range from $55 to $32 SPECIAL DISCOUNTS: FREE General Admission tickets for veterans. $15 General Admission ticket for active military. Online: www.unionavenueopera.org Phone: (314) 361-2881 ** Union Avenue Opera recognizes that the content of Glory Denied is of a sensitive nature to many people. Our board certified music therapist will be available during all performances of Glory Denied at Union Avenue Opera **

Don’t miss the following FREE/DISCOUNTED events for Veterans and Active Military thanks to a grant from the PNC Foundation:

Glory Denied Preview Concert on August 9 at 3:00pm Soldiers Memorial Military Museum | 1315 Chestnut Street | 63103 FREE for Veterans and Active Military

Enjoy a special concert presentation of Glory Denied, Tom Cipullo’s acclaimed opera based on the true story of America’s Longest-Held Prisoner of war in the JCT Assembly Hall at Soldiers Memorial Military Museum on August 9 at 3:00pm. Tickets are FREE for veterans and active military. All other tickets are $10 per person and $5 for MHS Members. Advance reservations encouraged. Order online at www.mohistory.org

Glory Denied Panel Discussion on August 13 from 6:00pm to 7:00pm Soldiers Memorial Military Museum | 1315 Chestnut Street | 63103 FREE and open to the public

Host Ruth Ezell moderates an intimate panel discussion with insights on the opera Glory Denied, the Vietnam War and the POW Experiences in the JCT Assembly Hall at Soldiers Memorial Military Museum. Panelists include United States Marine Corps Sergeant Rodney “Rocky” Sickmann (POW, Iranian Hostage Crisis) and Glory Denied director Dean Anthony. This is a free event and open to the public. No reservations needed.

Glory Denied Talk Back Sessions on August 16, 17, 23, 24 following the opera Union Avenue Opera | 733 N. Union Blvd. | 63108

Join us each night following the performance of Glory Denied for an intimate talk-back session with members of the artistic team and cast, including special guest, Tom Cipullo the composer of Glory Denied and director Dean Anthony on opening night (August 16).

Know Before You Go – Friday Night Lecture Series on August 16 and 24 at 7:00pm Gretchen Brigham Gallery at Union Avenue Opera | 733 N. Union Blvd. | 63108

Join Union Avenue Opera and Glen Bauer, Ph. D. for our Friday Night lecture series. Dr. Bauer will discuss the opera’s historical importance, guide you through the plot line, and offer a sneak peak of the music to come. This is a free event.

Free Music Therapy Workshop for veterans

Music is known to be an excellent tool for enhancing communication, community, and healing. Recognizing that veterans face unique challenges after their formal service ends, we have partnered with local Board Certified Music Therapist Sarah Michaelis to create a free program that incorporates creative music making and relaxation tailored to promote healing among veterans. Michaelis will guide participants through a variety of music therapy activities that are tailored to veterans to support increased relaxation, self-expression, and positive regard for self and others. This program seeks to build a sense of community and purpose through creative musical experiences. Programs will be tailored to the needs of each individual group. The program is completely free, and sessions may be arranged for July and August 2019 and can be scheduled by contacting Union Avenue Opera at 314-361-2881 or emailing UAO’s Administrative Director Emily Stolarski at [email protected]

By C.B. AdamsContributing Writer

It is tempting to explore the modern cultural significance of Puccini’s La Bohéme. Jonathan Larson’s Rent and Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge both owe a debt of gratitude to Puccini’s enduring, powerful, story of callow youths in the full throes of love, lust and loss. Echoes of it are recognizable in films like St. Elmo’s Fire and The Breakfast Club, to say nothing of Terms of Endearment, NBC’s Friends or even The Dandy Warhol’s “Bohemian Like You.”

But Puccini’s 1845 bohemian rhapsody is firmly ensconced in the operatic canon, so that discussion would merely detract from Union Avenue Opera’s current production (its third in its 25-year history) of La Bohéme. So, is UAO up to the challenge of this masterwork? If all you seek is a thumbs up or down recommendation, then the answer is a resounding “Yes” and read no further.

But for a few more details, know that UAO’s production
checks all the right boxes for a successful run. Under the stage direction of
Mark Freiman, cast, crew and musicians provide a confident, fresh and energetic
La Bohéme that should delight a first-time operagoer as well as a more seasoned
aficionado. Freiman moves the sometimes large cast, including an ensemble of
raucous children, around the stage with an adroit fluidity that never feels
stagey. Kudos to children’s chorus master, Alice Nelson, for ably herding the
youngsters projecting the exuberance of Muny Kids.

Cree Carrico. Dress rehearsal on July 23, 2019 for Union Avenue Opera’s production of La bohème. Photo by Dan Donovan.Scenic and lighting designer Patrick Huber boldly uses UAO’s
modest stage with a looming diagonal wall that is cleverly transformed from act
to act. This wall serves as a garret window overlooking a projection of the
Paris skyline in Act 1, to the awninged front of Café Momus (hello, Central
Perk) in Act 2, to a shuttered tavern entrance in Act 3, and finally back to
the first set in Act 4. Such scene-changing was impressive to see, but this also
meant an extra intermission to accomplish the changes – a minor quibble.

La Bohéme is not an opera filled with opportunities for
special effects; those pyrotechnics are mostly left to the arias and duets.
Yet, the chill in Act 3 is made ever more palpable with a gentle, realistic
snowfall. After a quick glance upward to “see how it’s done,” it’s easy to
re-suspend one’s disbelief.

Huber’s choice of lighting is interesting. Act 1’s chilly
garret is bathed in a warm, nostalgic, sepia light (Tuscan sunset, anyone?) in
contrast to the bone-chilling ambient temperature endured by the friends
Marcello, Rodolfo, Colline, Schnaunard, Benoit and, later, Mimi. This contrast
avoids the scene from becoming too Dickensian in its harsh poverty. Afterall,
the poet Rodolfo resorts to burning his manuscript to provide a meager warmth.

Just as with films, music supports the moods and actions of
the production and enhances the performance without calling attention to
itself. From the pit, conductor Elizabeth Hastings leads the small orchestra
(including harp by Megan Stout) to reach the fullness of the score with a
deceptively small cadre of musicians. Good things sometimes do indeed come in
small packages.

Regardless of how much stage time the cast’s 10 members had,
each was fully in command of his or her part – in fine voice and expressing a
relaxed chemistry. The entire ensemble, and especially the main cast, are
excellently clad in period costumes that beautifully display costume designer
Teresa Doggett’s keen eye for details and distinguishing characteristics, such
as Mimi’s bonnet and deathbed muff. There are no “wardrobe malfunctions” in
this successful production, only costumes that contribute flawlessly to the
personality of each character, including the exemplary E. Scott Levin as
Benoit, the landlord, who shines in Act I.

Yulia Lysenko as Mimi and Jesse Donner Dress rehearsal on July 23, 2019 for Union Avenue Opera’s production of La bohème. Photo by Dan DonovanThe heartbeat – and heartbreak – of La Bohéme relies on its
central characters, played in this production by the tenor Jesse Donner as
Rodolfo and soprano Yulia Lysenko (making her UAO stage debut) as Mimi.
Matching male and female performance vocals – during duets as well as arias – is
always a challenge, but the talents of Donner and Lysenko intertwine
beautifully. Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born could only dream
of such an effective, equitable pairing.

Puccini’s music with libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe
Giacosa balances the relationship of Mimi and Rodolfo with their friends and
fellow starving artists. Andrew Wannigman as Marcello is delightful as the
painter whose eyes are just as expressive as his voice. As the singer Musetta,
Cree Carrico (making her UAO debut) plays Marcello’s love interest with a
broadly appealing, tarty flirtatiousness.

Before Mimi enters Act 1, the bro-ish camaraderie is captured with earnest high energy as Isaiah Musik-Ayala (making his UAO debut) as Colline, a philosopher, and Nicholas Ward as Schaunard, a musician, join Donner and Wannigman in the spartan garret. This production’s “deep bench” of talent extends even to the relatively small part of Parpignol, a toy vendor. As played by Dale Obermark (making his UAO debut) Parpignol is memorable, charming and a highlight of Act 2.

Good opera like all great art is worthy of repeated attention. La Bohéme may be an operatic chestnut, but UAO’s interpretation of this classic lives up to the strong material and will surely withstand the test of time as one of this company’s most noteworthy productions.

Union Avenue Opera presents “La Boheme” July 26, 27 and Aug. 2, 3 at 8 p.m. at Union Avenue Christian Church. For more information, visit www.unionavenueopera.org.

Union Avenue Opera presents two company premieres in 2019

Christine Brewer returns to Union Avenue Opera for role debut as The Old Lady in Bernstein’sCandide

Union Avenue Opera announces 25th Anniversary Gala, October 10, 2019

Christine Brewer

Over 21 artists will make their Union Avenue Opera (UAO) debut this summer as the company celebrates its 25th Anniversary Season. The seven-week summer season will open Friday, July 5 with Bernstein’s hilarious, philosophical, and fast-paced take on Voltaire’s 1759 biting satire of the same name, Candideand will feature the return of Christine Brewer to the UAO stage. The season continues through August 24th with performances of Puccini’s operatic blockbuster La bohème, a tribute to UAO’s tradition of presenting operas in original languages, and the St. Louis premiere of Tom Cipullo’s Glory Denied, the true saga of Vietnam veteran Colonel Jim Thompson, the longest-held American POW in US history.

The 25th Anniversary Season will culminate with a Gala on Thursday, October 10 at the Barnett on Washington. Guests will enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres followed by a masterfully crafted gourmet meal with a special musical performance by three notable UAO alum: Kenneth Overton (Stephen Kumalo, Lost in the Stars), Elise Quagliata(Sister James, Doubt), and Marsha Thompson (Abigaille, Nabucco). The evening will be hosted by Kathy Lawton Brown of Classic 107.3, The Voice for the Arts in St. Louis

“UAO started off small but mighty. I was a 22-year-old, just out of college looking for opera conducting experience and with the help of the Arts Group of Union Avenue Christian Church we set out to ‘put on a show’” recalls UAO Founding Artistic Director Scott Schoonover. “Our first budget was $5,000 which included everything! Our first auditions drew 17 people, and our orchestra was a string quartet. The cast and I helped build the sets and costumes, and we held 6 performances each with about 50 people in attendance. Minutes before the first performance, the lighting system blew, and we had to perform with just the house lights – it wasn’t fun at the time, but we laugh about it now. Each season has been a season of growth for UAO – for me personally, for our artists, our staff, our infrastructure, and our board of directors – and we are now ready to tackle Season 25.”

In total, UAO will create over 150 opportunities during the festival season both on stage, in the pit, as part of the design/production teams not to mention the nearly 100 volunteers who will give of their time and talents. All operas will be fully staged and performed in their original language with project English Supertitles on the Union Avenue Opera stage at 733 N. Union Blvd, STL 63108, and accompanied by a full orchestra, all members of the AFM Orchestra Union.

Over the past twenty-four years, UAO has grown in artist quality and excellence. Known throughout the region for presenting original language operas such as Nabucco, Rigoletto, La traviata, and Wagner’s epic four-part Ring cycle alongside newer works including Lost in the Stars, Dead Man Walking, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Doubt.

Single tickets are on sale for as low as $32 and subscription packages start at $80. Tickets may be purchased online at www.unionavenueopera.org, by phone at (314) 361-2881, and in person at Union Avenue Opera, 733 N. Union Blvd, St. Louis, MO, 63108. Student rush tickets are available at the door for $15 (cash only) with a valid student ID. There is ample free parking available.

Leonard Bernstein’s: CANDIDE

Scottish Opera Version Four Performances: July 5, 6, 12, 13 at 8:00 p.m.

Presented in English with English supertitles

War! Earthquakes! Disease! Very bad things happen to very good people (and plenty of bad ones too). When young Candide’s marriage proposal to a baron’s daughter doesn’t quite go as planned, this naïve student of optimism is thrust into an eye-opening odyssey across lands near and far, discovering the horrors of existence at every turn.Candide is part opera, part musical, and entirely irreverent. Voltaire’s philosophical spoof becomes a brilliant and breathless operetta set to a vivid score by Bernstein which abounds with spectacular music that includes a famous overture, the soprano showpiece “Glitter and Be Gay,” and the soaring finale, “Make our Garden Grow.” Through all its hysterical scouring of 18th-century wickedness and woe, Candide still finds a way to move and inspire with life-affirming lessons that, surprisingly, ring just as true today.

World-renowned opera legend, Christine Brewer, returns to the UAO stage in her role debut as The Old Lady inCandide. Schoonover will conduct while local director Annamaria Pileggi makes her UAO directorial debut. Jesse Darden and Brooklyn Snow make their UAO debuts as Candide and Cunegonde while Thomas Gunther returns as Voltaire/Pangloss following last year’s successful UAO debut as Captain Corcoran in H.M.S. Pinafore. Local actors Greg Johnston and Graham Emmons make their UAO stage debuts covering a variety of supporting characters. The chorus is composed of 16 of the area’s most talented emerging artists including Leann Schuering,Liya Khaimova, Anthony Heinemann, and Aleksandar Dragojevic. 

“I have always enjoyed and been impressed with productions I have seen at UAO and I can’t think of a better place to make my opera directorial debut!” said Pileggi. “I love the sweeping and theatrical nature of Candide. The breadth and scope of the story, along with the lushness and scale of Bernstein’s music make Candide a quintessentially live event.”

Candide – Jesse Darden*

Voltaire/Pangloss – Thomas Gunther

Maximillian – Charlie Tingen*

Cunegonde – Brooklyn Snow*

Paquette – Gina Malone

The Old Lady – Christine Brewer

Captain/Vanderdendur – Christopher Nelson*

Director – Annamaria Pileggi*

Conductor – Scott Schoonover

Scenic Designer – Otiz Sweezy*

Lighting Designer – Michael Sullivan

Costume Designer – Teresa Doggett

Technical Direction – Theatre Marine Productions

Properties Designer – Kate Slovinski

Giacomo Puccini’s: LA BOHÈME 

Four Performances: July 26, 27, August 2, 3 at 8:00 p.m.

Presented in Italian with English supertitles

Join the Bohemian Revolution in the heart of 19th-century Paris as a group of struggling artist strives to create beautiful art, find love, and ultimately live life to the fullest in this romantic operatic blockbuster. Rodolfo and his friends scrape by using their wit and charm to escape life’s harsher consequences until a chance encounter one winter night when Mimi asks Rodolfo to light her candle, changing everything and sending the pair into a deep, passionate whirlwind. At the same time, Marcello can’t resist the flirtatious charms of the feisty Musetta. Follow the triumphs and toils of this band of struggling young artists as they search for love, life, and laughter against impossible odds. For over 100 years, La bohème, Puccini’s most celebrated opera, has moved audiences to laughter and tears with its irresistible music and timeless tale. 

Ukrainian born soprano, Yulia Lysenko makes her UAO debut in the role of the ill-fated Mimi alongside Cree Carrico as Musetta in La bohème. Jesse Donner returns following his triumphant UAO debut as Ismaele in Verdi’sNabucco last summer. Andrew Wannigman (Jigger, Carousel), Nicholas Ward (Pish-Tush, The Mikado) and Scott Levin (Pooh-Bah, The Mikado) also return to UAO as Marcello, Schaunard, and Alcindoro respectively while Isaiah Musik-Ayala makes his UAO debut as Colline. Elizabeth Hastings (Cenerentola ’11) returns to conduct the 16 chorus and 8 children’s chorus members while St. Louis’ Mark Freiman (Nabucco) directs.

“For people of all ages who have never been to an opera or find it intimidating, La bohème is a great first opera” said Freiman. “The story is surprisingly simple, the music is lush and melodic, there is a lot of humor, and one can’t help but fall in love with the characters. There is nothing like seeing La bohème close-up in an intimate setting like UAO. Our production of La bohème will be traditional, but every production is different, making it fresh and exciting for the audience.”

Mimi – Yulia Lysenko*

Rodolfo – Jesse Donner

Musetta – Cree Carrico*

Marcello – Andrew Wannigman

Schaunard – Nicholas Ward

Colline – Isaiah Musik-Ayala*

Alcindoro/Benoit – Scott Levin

Customs Agent – Randell McGee

Director – Mark Freiman

Conductor – Elizabeth Hastings

Scenic and Lighting Designer – Patrick Huber

Costume Designer – Teresa Doggett

Technical Direction – Theatre Marine Productions

Properties Designer – Kate Slovinski

Tom Cipullo’s: GLORY DENIED

Based on the novel “Glory Denied” by Tom Philpott

Presented in English with English supertitles

Performances Aug. 16, 17, 23 and 24 at 8 p.m.

America’s longest-held prisoner of war dreams of coming home. But home is a place he will not recognize. Follow the gut-wrenching saga of Colonel Jim Thompson as he transitions from the jungles of Southeast Asia to the tree-lined streets of suburban America. Glory Denied speaks to the plight of so many of our veterans who nobly fought for their country but face huge challenges when it comes to re-assimilating into society—and their longed-for normal lives—after service. This true story explores the unimaginable bravery asked of soldiers and the nature of hope itself. It is a story of a nation divided and a country that changed significantly in the decade of his imprisonment. Tom Cipullo’s Glory Denied made waves in opera circles when it premiered a decade a go and continues to do so today.

The Glory Denied cast of four includes David Walton (Albert, Albert Herring) as Younger Thompson, Peter Kendall Clark in his UAO debut as Older Thompson, Karina Brazas (Yum-Yum, The Mikado) as Younger Alyce, and Gina Galati (Donna Elvira, Don Giovanni) as Older Alyce. Schoonover conducts as St. Louis native Dean Anthonymakes his UAO directorial debut.

“Glory Denied is an emotional rollercoaster” said Anthony. “What we see in Glory Denied is the cause and effect on all sides. So often, lives of POWs have been forgotten and just become a part of our past. The sacrifice and commitment of these women and men who served our country should never be forgotten. As well as the families who were back home.” 

Older Thompson – Peter Kendall Clark*

Younger Thompson – David Walton

Older Alyce – Gina Galati

Younger Alyce – Karina Brazas

Director – Dean Anthony*

Conductor – Scott Schoonover

Scenic Designer – Roger Speidel

Lighting Designer – Joe Clapper

Costume Designer – Teresa Doggett

Technical Direction – Theatre Marine Productions

Properties Designer – Kate Slovinski

*UAO stage debut

Don’t miss UAO’s Free Friday Night Lecture Series at 7:00 p.m. before the performance in the Union Avenue Fellowship Gallery presented by Dr. Glenn Bauer of Webster University (July 5, 12, 26 August 2, 16, 23). Lectures are free and open to the public.

25th ANNIVERSARY GALA

Thursday, October 10 at 6pm

The Barnett on Washington [3207 Washington Blvd]

Join us as we celebrate Union Avenue Opera’s 25th Anniversary in the festive ambiance of The Barnett on Washington. Enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres followed by a masterfully crafted gourmet meal with a musical performance by Kenneth Overton (Stephen Kumalo, Lost in the Stars), Elise Quagliata (Sister James, Doubt),Marsha Thompson (Abigaille, Nabucco) and hosted by Kathy Lawton Brown, Classic 107. 3. Tickets are on sale now. Call 314-361-2881 or visit unionavenueopera.org for more information.

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About Union Avenue Opera – UAO was founded in 1994 to bring affordable, professional, original-language opera to St. Louis, a mission the company continues to pursue to this day. UAO is committed to hiring the most talented artists, directors, designers and technicians both locally and from across the United States. UAO provides promising young singers the first steppingstone of their professional career. UAO is a publicly supported 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization registered in Missouri. In 2018 UAO became an OPERA American Professional Company Member. OPERA America is the national membership organization for artists, administrators and audiences, dedicated to support the creation, presentation and enjoyment of opera.UAO offers vibrant and affordable opera experiences in original languages to audiences who reflect the breadth and diversity of the St. Louis region from the acoustically superb sanctuary of an historic church located in the urban Visitation Park neighborhood in St. Louis’ Central West End. Financial assistance has been provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency, and with support from the Regional Arts Commission, and PNC Arts Alive.  Emily (DePauw) Stolarski Administrative Director | Union Avenue Opera733 N. Union Blvd | St. Louis, MO 63108 | 314-361-2881 Our 25th Anniversary SeasonCandide: Scottish Opera Version – July 5, 6, 12, 13La bohème – July 26, 27, August 2, 3Glory Denied – August 16, 17, 23, 24 The mission of Union Avenue Opera is to provide professional opportunities for gifted, emerging artists and to offer vibrant and affordable opera experiences in original languages to audiences that reflect the breadth and diversity of the St. Louis region. Believing that the arts are vital to the health and reputation of a community, Union Avenue Opera is committed to its urban setting, educational outreach and artistic integrity.

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
Jennifer Theby-Quinn, one of the most radiant life forces in local theater, joyfully
slips into a vivacious literary heroine with energy, enthusiasm and ease in
“Daddy Long Legs.”

The charming musical romance opened Insight Theatre
Company’s 12th season, whose theme is “A Riot of the Heart!”

Based on Jean Webster’s 1912 novel, which is a written as a
series of letters between pen pals, “Daddy Long Legs” enthralled me as a youth.
I naturally identified with orphan Jerusha Abbott, a very smart young woman who
longs for adventure.

Because she is a bookworm who shows much promise as a
writer, Jerusha is given an opportunity to attend college by an anonymous
benefactor, whom she nicknames “Daddy Long Legs” after she spies this
tall trustee leaving the John Grier Home one day, from a distance. The sole
request is that she correspond once a month.

In a plot twist, he befriends her using his real identity,
as the bachelor uncle of one of her affluent roommates. The family is of
considerable social status, and Jerusha is enamored of their wealth and advantages.

Internationally renowned countertenor Terry Barber plays the
mysterious Jervis Pendleton whose zest for life grows as his affection for the
wide-eyed innocent coed does. Her lively observations, spoken as her written
prose, have enchanted him.

Barber’s vocals are exquisite, and with music direction by
Scott Schoonover, the lush score soars. Leading a three-person combo on
keyboard, Schoonover benefits from Tracy Andreotti on cello and Vincent Varvel
on guitar, guiding each number with expert skill. 

While Barber’s acting is less effective here, the show is
really is Jennifer’s to own, for it is truly a remarkable role for a leading
lady. In Jerusha’s journey of self-discovery, Theby-Quinn shines brightly,
lighting up every corner of The Marcelle.

The story takes place in turn-of-the-century New England,
and through Theby-Quinn’s animated performance, Jerusha reveals herself as a
woman of substance, an outspoken suffragette who champions social justice. As
she blossoms, her joie de vivre is palpable and infectious.

Julian King’s vintage costume design is quite fetching,
except the wig choice for Jervis.

Jennifer Theby-Quinn as Jerusha Abbott

Director Maggie Ryan keeps the characters moving, and with
Quinn’s ebullience, there is no static at all. Rob Lippert’s ingenious set
design, rich in detail and smart function, serves the action well.

Nevertheless, the second act seems much longer than
necessary, and tests the goodwill of the first one as the two-person show seems
in no rush to arrive at the inevitable.

The book is by John Caird, Tony nominee for directing “Les
Miserables,” and the music and lyrics are by Paul Gordon, the Tony
Award-nominated composer of “Jane Eyre.” The production debuted off-Broadway in
2015, but before that, received an engaging tryout at The Repertory Theatre of
St. Louis in 2012.

For any girl who know what it’s like to dream, this musical
marvelously captures the yearning to see the world and the excitement to be
introduced to new things in life.

It’s also a quaint portrait of the social mores in the
early 20th century, and the evolution of contemporary women.

“Daddy
Long Legs” is presented by Insight Theatre Company March 29-April 14 at The
Marcelle Theatre. For more information, visit www.insighttheatrecompany.com

Union Avenue Opera’s University Artist Outreach program, Crescendo, will present a free recital on Sunday, March 10, at 5 p.m. The recital is the culmination for participants in UAO’s Crescendo program, a free, hands-on, performance based training program developed to further the education of local artists still young in their careers as they prepare to join the St. Louis art community.

The recital is free and open to all ages. It will be held on the Union Avenue Opera stage at 733 North Union Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63108. This is a non-ticketed event. Doors open 4:30 p.m.

In the spring of 2014, Union Avenue Opera launched their new collegiate enrichment program called Crescendo.

Participants take part in a series of masterclasses and workshops presented by UAO’s esteemed professionals in anticipation of a public recital on March 10, where they will compete for $2,500 in scholarships and spots in UAO’s 2019 productions of Candide and La Boheme.

The program is open to all voice students currently enrolled in an undergraduate program within 60 miles of St. Louis, and offers a unique opportunity for young artists to work with their contemporaries while honing their craft.

To date, 72 students have completed the Crescendo program, some as many as 4 times! As a result, these young artists have appeared in over 65 roles in 7 operas as part of UAO’s Festival Season.  This year, 24 students from seven local music programs are participating in Crescendo.

Union Avenue Opera’s Crescendo is designed for the motivated student, to provide the opportunity to hone their craft while working with UAO’s esteemed professionals.

UAO believes St. Louis has a lot to offer singers and they want to reach out to local students and make their acquaintance. In addition, participants will compete for scholarships as well as paid positions in UAO’s 2019 productions of Bernstein’s Candide, Puccini’s La bohème, and Tom Cipullo’s Glory Denied.* 

Numerous participants of the Crescendo Program have gained employment opportunities  working behind the scenes at Union Avenue Opera. Students were hired to work in the box office, run supertitles, as well as perform in productions, all of which gave them insight to a career in the performing arts.

cutline: 2018 Recital Winners: SIUE’s Sarah Paitz recipient of the John J. Prcic Memorial Scholarship, SIUE’s David Fournie winner of the Jack and Betty Swanson Scholarship, Webster University’s Abby Benson winner of the John Lessor Scholarship, and Artistic Director Scott Schoonover. Kari Frey Photography.

Meet the 2019 Crescendo Staff

Program Coordinator – Debra Hillabrand

Christine Armistead, Director of Vocal Activities, Washington UniversityJon Garrett, Adjunct Professor, Staff Accompanist and Music Director, St. Louis University; Adjunct Professor of Voice, Staff Accompanist and Music Director, Lindenwood University, Adjunct Professor, St. Charles Community CollegeSandra Geary, Piano Faculty, Washington UniversityMartha Hart, Associate Professor of Voice, Webster UniversityEric KuhnStella Markou, Director of  Vocal Studies, University of Missouri-St. LouisNancy Mayo, Piano Faculty, Webster UniversityJennifer MedinaAlice Nelson, Director of the Webster Opera Studio, Webster UniversityAnna Pileggi, Professor of the Practice in Drama, Washington UniversityNoël Prince, Voice Faculty, Washington UniversityMarc Schapman, Director of SIUE Opera Theatre, Southern Illinois University EdwardsvilleScott Schoonover, Artistic Director and Founder, Union Avenue Opera Stephanie Tennill, Assistant Professor of Music, Saint Louis University

 

Questions?Email Program Coordinator, Debra Hillabrand, at [email protected]

By Lynn Venhaus
Managing Editor
A compelling plea for compassion and understanding, Kurt Weill’s mighty “Lost in the Stars” will break your heart and uplift your spirit in Union Avenue Opera’s stirring production.
This ambitious vibrant opera features more than 50 performers, many new to the art form, and that provides some of St. Louis’ finest dramatic artists with an opportunity to stretch their acting muscles. Under Shaun Patrick Tubbs’ fluid direction, they seamlessly blend into Weill’s powerful operatic retelling of “Cry, the Beloved Country.”
Alan Paton’s 1948 novel is set in South Africa during the 1940s era of apartheid, a time of great racial and economic divide. Adapted the following year into the opera “Lost in the Stars,” Weill wrote his last score, and famed historical playwright Maxwell Anderson wrote both the book and lyrics.

This hard-hitting work resonates today, demonstrating a need for humanity in a time of intolerance, misunderstanding and prejudice.
Rev. Stephen Kumalo (Kenneth Overton) travels to Johannesburg, and hopes to locate his son, Absalom (Myke Andrews), whom he hasn’t seen for a year. At the railroad station, he talks to Arthur Jarvis (Stephen Peirick), a white lawyer who is a benefactor of the church and believes in treating all people the same. He is with his disapproving father, wealthy plantation owner James Jarvis (Tim Schall), whose bigotry runs deep.
While Absalom is out on parole for a crime and is living with Irina (Krysty Swann), pregnant with their child, he is convinced to be part of a burglary with two others. It’s at the Jarvis plantation, but Arthur walks in and is shot by Absalom, who got flustered and scared. A legal scheme is hatched for acquittal but Absalom will have none of it, he confesses and while honorable, will be sentenced to death.
The Reverend can’t save his son, and the elder Jarvis has lost a son too. Eventually some common ground can be achieved. But it’s a hard road, and old ways must be forgotten to forge a new understanding.
In an emotional powder-keg of a role, Kenneth Overton soars with his potent baritone and poignant renditions of every number.  He pulls everyone’s heartstrings tight and has the ability to take your breath away and reduce you to tears. His showstopping “Lost in the Stars” delivery to close Act I is haunting and will remain one of my favorite and best moments of Union Avenue Opera’s 24th season.
He anchored an outstanding youthful ensemble displaying a notable energy and passion. Speaking roles included Jeanitta Perkins as Grace Kumalo, Stephen’s wife and Absalom’s mother; Reginald Pierre as Stephen’s lawyer brother John; Carl Overly Jr. as burglar Matthew Kumalo, Abraham Shaw as burglar Johannes Pafuri and Chuck Lavazzi as parole officer Mark Eland. Their mastery of their Afrikaner accents and their projection was noteworthy.
Tim Schall and Stephen Peirick excelled in their roles as the Jarvis father and son on opposite ends of their beliefs.
Myke Andrews, who was impressive in The Black Rep’s “Torn Asunder” and Metro Theatre Company’s “Bud, Not Buddy,” turned in his best work yet as Absalom. He is stunning, maneuvering a wide range of emotions with conviction. His ‘goodbye’ scene will rip your heart and have you reaching for tissues, along with soprano Kristy Swann as Irina, showcasing a warm rich voice.
Rising star Melody Wilson has a fetching turn as Linda and Roderick George sang the Leader role with authority.
Young Charlie Mathis, so impressive as Dill in “To Kill a Mockingbird” at The Rep, was at home here as Arthur Jarvis’ young son, Edward, as was Sherrod Murff as Alex, Stephen Kumalo’s nephew. Sherrod delivers a sweet solo song at a time where a break from all the intense melodrama was welcome.
Artistic Director Scott Schoonover conducted the orchestra with crisp precision, emphasizing the cultural context in a meaningful way. And the orchestra was quite robust.
The creative team also contributed key elements to the overall period feel of the production. James W. Clapper’s lighting design was eloquent, and his “stars” lighting a few at a time was just beautiful. Teresa Doggett’s costume design nailed the time and place, as did Roger Speidel’s minimal set design that doubled as multiple interiors with ease.
“Lost in the Stars” delivers a forceful message with not only an urgency but with kindness. It remains a timeless work of historical significance that needs to be seen now.
“Lost in the Stars” is presented by Union Avenue Opera for four performances Aug. 17, 18, 24 and 25 at the Union Avenue Christian Church. For more information, visit ww.unionavenueopera.org.

Photos by John Lamb