Thursday, November 14, 2013

Great Britten: The symphony presents Benjamin Britten's "Peter Grimes" in concert Saturday, November 16, 2013

Anthony Dean Griffey as Peter Grimes in Toronto
Writing in the Larousse Encyclopedia of Music, Donald Paine notes that Benjamin Britten's "War Requiem," written for the consecration of Coventry Cathedral in 1962, "may stand as representative of his genius and of the theme that recurs throughout his work: the indictment of human folly as it shows itself both in the tragedy and wastage of war and in the corruption of human innocence."

Those themes are present both in the "War Requiem" and in Britten's 1945 tragic opera "Peter Grimes."  Coincidentally, both works are being performed this weekend in the Midwest: the "War Requiem" in a series of concerts in Chicago Thursday through Sunday and "Peter Grimes" in a special concert performance on Saturday night here in St. Louis by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.

The Chicago performances are part of the Chicago Symphony's regular subscription series.  The Saturday special here is a preview of the "Peter Grimes" the symphony will be presenting in Carnegie Hall in New York on Friday, November 22nd—the 100th anniversary of Britten's birth.  It's one of over 1000 special concert events being presented this year to celebrate the great English composer's centenary; you can see a complete list at the Britten 100 web site.

Benjamin Britten
London Records 1968
publicity photo
Born in East Anglia in 1913, Britten studied composition with Frank Bridge and John Ireland.  He lived in the USA from 1939 to 1942 and then returned to settle in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, where he would remain the rest of his life.  Although he got international attention with his "Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge" for strings in 1937, it wasn't until the 1940s that his music began to achieve widespread acceptance, with performances of his "Ceremony of Carols" (a worldwide favorite around this time of year), the "Sinfonia da Requiem," and, of course, "Peter Grimes"—a huge hit with audiences and critics alike in 1945.  By the time Britten died in 1976 he was firmly established as one of the most important figures in 20th century music.

Most classical fans are familiar with the "Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes."  These little gems are powerfully evocative of the geographical and psychological landscape of the opera.  They're also a nice distillation of what you can expect from the complete performance of the opera on Saturday.

Inspired by a section of the poem "The Borough" by clergyman and poet George Crabbe (1754-1832), the story revolves around the persecution of the title character – a sullen and socially awkward fisherman – by the denizens of a small coastal fishing village.  In the poem he's a clear villain but in Montagu Slater's libretto it's ambiguous how much of Grimes's tragic end is his fault and how much the result of persecution by villagers.  What's not ambiguous is that, even at the relatively young age of 31, Britten was already a master of orchestral color and mood.

"Britten," writes Paul Schiavo in his program notes, "declared that the struggle between the exceptional individual and society was ‘a subject very close to my heart.' That Peter Grimes portrays that struggle through a decidedly flawed character, less hero than anti-hero, makes it a challenging work but not a less compelling one."  It's also possible that Britten intended the work to serve, to some extent, as a condemnation of the homophobia which Britten, as a gay man, saw quite clearly in British society.

The soloists for Saturday's performance include tenor Anthony Dean Griffey as Peter Grimes (a role he has sung often, including at the Metropolitan Opera in New York), soprano Susanna Phillips as schoolmistress Ellen Orford (who suspects—but can't prove—that Grimes might be abusing his young apprentice, John), bass-baritone Alan Held as Captain Balstrode (in whom Ellen confides), and contralto Meredith Arwady as Auntie (who helps stir the mob up against Grimes).  David Robertson conducts the orchestra and chorus.

The chorus plays an important narrative role in "Peter Grimes," so precision in singing and diction will be important.  Fortunately chorus director Amy Kaiser has an awfully good track record in that regard.

"Peter Grimes" is a big undertaking for the symphony, which does a relatively small number of chorus and orchestra pieces every season and rarely anything on quite this scale.  Those chorus and orchestra concerts have, however, generally been season highlights, so I think you'll find it interesting to see and hear the results—and to see what the New York critics have to say on the 22nd.

"Peter Grimes" will be performed on Saturday, November 16, at 8 PM at Powell Hall and will be broadcast on St. Louis Public Radio at 90.7 FM, HD 1, and via streaming at the station's web site.  For more information: stlsymphony.org.

This article originally appeared at OnSTL.com, where Chuck Lavazzi is a performing arts blogger.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Review of Winter Opera's "Faust"

Julia Ebner as Marguerite,Timothy J. Bruno as Mephistopheles
and Clay Hilley as Faust
© Ron Lindsey, 2013
Long regarded by many as one of the highlights of the French grand opera tradition, Gounod's "Faust"—a beautifully sung production of which opened Winter Opera’s season—actually started life in 1859 as an opéra comique with spoken dialog instead of recitatives and without large ballet sequences. It was only the addition of the former in 1860 and the latter in 1875 that elevated Faust to the position of eminence it held in opera houses for over a century.

But in dealing with weighty subjects the reach of Gounod and his librettists Jules Barbier and Michel Carré mostly exceed their grasp. The music still retains most of its power but the libretto has aged badly and now looks quaint and even dramatically inert at times.

"Satan", the a 1927 lyric by Leo Robin and Clifford Grey tells us, "lies awaitin' and creatin' clouds of gray."* In "Faust" Mephistopheles fills the lives of Faust, Marguerite, and Marguerite's family with clouds that aren't gray so much as the sort of greenish black we Midwesterners have come to associate with tornado season. By the end of Act 5 (Act 3 in this production), there has been enough death, scandal, and misery loosed upon the stage to fill up at least fifteen minutes of a cable news broadcast.

Julia Ebner as Marguerite,
Timothy J. Bruno as Mephistopheles
and Clay Hilley as Faust
© Ron Lindsey, 2013
This could be tremendously powerful stuff, but the libretto—based on Carré's play "Faust et Marguerite," which is very freely adapted from Part 1 of Goethe’s "Faust"—deals with it in such a pedestrian way that Faust, for example, comes off as little more than a shallow fool. Tenor Clay Hilley brought a truly wonderful voice to the role, fortunately, garnering his share of "bravos". His acting was not at quite at the level of his voice—his aged Faust was too exaggerated to be credible and his youthful Faust struck me as a bit bland—but there was no gainsaying the quality of his singing.

Soprano Julia Ebner was a very effective Marguerite, with a fine, supple voice and respectable acting chops. Bass Timothy J. Bruno’s Méphistophélès was also a vocal triumph, but I felt he failed to convey the character’s menace. His mocking Act 3 serenade, "Vous qui faites l'endormie," ideally a compelling display of sheer malevolence, felt under-played to me.

One of the strongest overall performances came from baritone Eric McKeever as Marguerite’s brother Valentin. "O sainte médaille," the Act 1 aria in which he entrusts the care of Marguerite to young Siébel (a "pants" role, nicely done by mezzo Cherry Duke) was a true showstopper and got the first "bravo" of the day.

John Stephens’s direction, while serviceable, was sometimes rather static. Ensemble scenes, in particular, tended to consist of having chorus members line up, face front, and sing with very little movement. Part of the problem, of course, was that Scott Loebl’s unit set consisted of a wall with a scrim stage left, a door unit center, and a set of stairs leading down to floor level stage right. The stone wall look was great, but its size tended to push all the action downstage. I would think those stairs could have been used in some of the chorus scenes to relieve the congestion.

The Act I waltz scene © Ron Lindsey, 2013
He did, on the other hand, come up with a neat solution to the problem posed by the lack of room for dancing in the famous Act 1 (original Act 2) waltz sequence.  She brought on a pair of ballroom dancers (Stephanie Medeiros and Atanas Pavlov) to do a flashy waltz number of their own.  They apparently beamed in from the 20th century, but it was certainly a theatrically effective moment.

JC Krajicek’s costumes (some of them ill fitting) seemed to have been assembled from several different shows, resulting in an opera that was apparently taking place in no fixed time or place. If that was designed to make the story more universal, I’m not sure it really worked. And that gray brocade suite for Faust made him look more silly than seductive.

Michael Mishra led the orchestra brilliantly, and their playing generally sounded quite polished. The instrumental/vocal balance was very good as well. I didn’t see a chorus master listed, but whoever rehearsed the ensemble did a fine job; the chorus sang with a precision and clarity that was wonderful to hear.

Winter Opera has come a long way in just seven seasons. Now that they’re getting some corporate sponsorship and have apparently settled in at the Viragh Center—one of the best musical theatre houses in town, hands down—I expect them to continue to be a critical part of the local opera scene. If they can get the theatrical aspects of their productions up to the same high level as the musical ones, they will truly be a force to be reckoned with.

Winter Opera’s next show is Verdi’s "Falstaff," one of the Italian master’s very best works, with a first-rate libretto by Boito. Performances are Friday and Sunday, February 7 and 9, 2014. There will also be another special "Holidays on the Hill" show December 10, 12, and 17 at Dominic’s Restaurant. Fore more information: winteroperastl.org.

*"Hallelujah," from "Hit the Deck." Music is by Vincent Youmans

This review originally appeared at 88.1 KDHX, where Chuck Lavazzi is the senior performing arts critic.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Winter Opera Saint Louis Interviewed on STL TV

Winter Opera Saint Louis General Director Gina Galati and Music Director Steven Jarvi sat down for an interview with STL TV to discuss the company and its upcoming seventh season.


(The above embedded video is a playlist of two videos.)

Winter Opera Saint Louis's season begins on November 8 & 10 with Faust, then continues with Falstaff in February and Lucia di Lammermoor in March. Performances take place at the Skip Viragh Center for the Arts at Chaminade (425 S. Lindbergh Blvd, St. Louis, MO, 63131). Tickets and more information can be found by calling 314-865-0038 or visiting winteroperastl.org

Monday, August 19, 2013

Review of Union Avenue Opera's "Die Walküre"

Alexandra LoBianco as Brünnhilde and Timothy Bruno as Wotan
Photo © Ron Lindsey, 2013
Union Avenue Opera is nothing if not fearless, often taking on works that strain the company’s space at the Union Avenue Christian Church to the limit.  Through next Saturday Union Avenue is presenting the second installment of its most ambitious project yet—Wagner's mammoth operatic cycle “Der Ring des Nibelungen.”  And it's pretty darned impressive.

“Das Rheingold,” which Union Avenue did last August, sets up the characters and the story that play out over the course of the cycle. Wagner regarded it as a mere prologue, though, and “Die Walküre” is where the rubber hits the road, dramatically speaking.  It's a tale of incest, murder, and ironic tragedy as the most powerful creature in the world—Wotan, father of the Gods—finds himself undone by his own machinations and powerless against the curse of the magical ring he stole from the dwarf Alberich back in “Das Rheingold”.

As the opera opens Siegmund, one of a pair of twins sired by Wotan with a mortal and separated at birth from his twin sister, stumbles into the home of Hunding, after eluding a vengeful mob. Hunding isn’t home—he is, in fact, part of the mob—but his wife is. Their attraction is immediate and it’s not in the least dampened when they realize that Hunding’s wife is Siegmund’s long-lost sister Sieglinde. Hunding arrives, recognizes Siegmund, and challenges him to a fight to the death in the morning. Sieglinde has other plans; she drugs Hunding and flees with Siegmund, but not before the latter plucks a magical sword from the trunk of a tree in Hunding’s house.

Alexandra LoBianco as Brünnhilde
Photo © Ron Lindsey, 2013
Back in Valhalla, Fricka is outraged that Wotan is condoning not only adultery but incest as well. She browbeats him into upholding the sanctity of marriage by letting Hunding kill Siegmund, even though Wotan had hoped Siegmund would be the hero who would save Valhalla from the descendants of Alberich. When the Valkyrie Brünnhilde (who, like all the Valkyries, is a daughter of Wotan and the earth goddess Erda) violates Wotan’s orders and tries to save Siegmund, Wotan is forced to punish her by turning her mortal, placing her into a magical sleep, and surrounding her with magical flames that only a true hero can penetrate. His farewell, in the final moments of the opera, is one of the most moving sequences in opera.

Sieglinde, meanwhile, has escaped. She’s pregnant with Siegmund’s child, Siegfried. But that’s another opera.  For a more detailed plot summary of the entire cycle, I refer you to Wikipedia.

The Union Avenue production uses a reduced version of Wagner's original created by English composer Jonathan Dove in 1990 that cuts nearly an hour out of the original’s run time of nearly four hours and takes its three acts down to two. That’s not the sacrilege you might think; Wagner the librettist does not always serve Wagner the composer well, and there’s much in the text that is redundant and discursive. That said, Dove’s edits in the first act delete too much of Siegmund’s back story, in my view, and compress the development of his and Sieglinde’s affection so much that it seems rather rushed. Wotan’s massive blocks of exposition in Wagner’s Act II and III, on the other hand, feel like they could use more editing. Dove also cuts four of Brünnhilde’s seven Valkyrie sisters, which drastically shortens the famous “Ride of the Valkyries” sequence that opens Wagner’s Act III—a pity, as it’s rather stirring stuff.

Melissa Sumner as Helmwige, Cecelia Stearman as Waltraute,
Alexandra LoBianco as Brünnhilde, Lindsey Anderson as Rossweisse,
and Amber Smoke as Sieglinde
Photo © Ron Lindsey, 2013
Still, this reduced “Walküre” still packs a considerable punch, thanks largely to some heavy-duty Girl Power in the cast.  Amber Smoke (Sieglinde), Elise Quagliata (Fricka), and Alexandra LoBianco (Brünnhilde) are all outstanding, with powerful voices and well-defined characters. Ms. Quagliata is the same powerful presence she was in “Rheingold” while Ms. Smoke perfectly captures Sieglinde’s passion and despair. Ms. LoBianco’s really big moments won’t come until the next two operas are mounted in 2014 and 2015, of course, but based on what I saw and heard here I expect very good things from her in “Siegfried” and “Götterdämmerung”. Melissa Summer, Cecelia Stearman (Erda in last season’s “Rheingold”), and Lindsey Anderson are a formidable trio of Valkyries as well.

On the male side, Nathan Whitson is an appropriately thuggish Hunding (although there’s not much to the part in this reduction), but James Taylor is a bit bland as Siegmund. He’s very interesting vocally, though, in that he’s a baritone who now sings as a tenor. His voice has, as a result, a depth that one doesn’t normally associate with tenors and only very rarely did he seem uncomfortable in his top notes.

Amber Smoke as Sieglinde and
James Taylor as Siegmund

Photo © Ron Lindsey, 2013
Timothy Bruno brings the kind of vocal power to Wotan that I missed last year when Kevin Misslich sang the role in “Rheingold.” Unfortunately, he mugs too much and is too physically "busy" (when will actors and directors understand the power of stillness?), undercutting the character's gravitas.  Still, Wotan's famous "farewell" scene with Brünnhilde was appropriately moving.

Dove’s reduced orchestration is for 18 pieces—one per part. Conductor Scott Schoonover has beefed it up a bit with extra strings, but even so, Wagner’s music inevitably loses some of its visceral impact with a band this size. Intonation issues in the brasses, especially toward the end of the second act, didn’t help. The ensemble as a whole played well, though, and Mr. Schoonover’s tempo choices felt more right here than they did in “Rheingold” last year.

Patrick Huber’s unit set is the same one used for “Rheingold.” It’s dominated by a huge screen on which images and video (designed by Michael Perkins, whose innovative work has graced many a local stage) take the place of the elaborate scenery envisioned by Wagner. Those work better here than they did in “Rheingold” (although video playback is still a bit jerky), and are very effective in creating the right moods and sense of place. Unfortunately the screen, the catwalk above it, and the stairs to either side take up so much room that most of the action is played out in a fairly shallow area downstage. Director Karen Coe Miller does the best she can with this space, but it’s hard to create decent stage pictures under those circumstances. It’s also hard for Mr. Huber to light that space, apparently, given the number of times singers’ faces were in shadow.

Teresa Doggett and her crew have done well by the costumes. As in “Rheingold”, Wotan and Fricka are decked out as late 19th century European royalty while the mortals are all in peasant outfits. The Valkyries look appropriately martial, with costumes that have the look but not the bulk of stage armor, so they don’t impede movement or singing. English supertitles by Elise LaBarge and Philip Touchette are, as usual, clear and easily visible throughout the house.

There has not, to the best of my recollection, been a performance of Wagner’s “Ring” in St. Louis in my lifetime and given that our major opera company, Opera Theatre, seems allergic to the composer, there may not be another one for many years, if ever. That means that this may be your only chance to see a locally produced “Die Walküre.” If you have any interest in the “Ring” at all, you should grab it. This may not be a perfect production, but it’s a very good one and well worth seeing.

Union Avenue’s “Die Walküre” has two more performances this Friday and Saturday at 8 PM at the Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 Union at Enright in the Central West End. For more information: unionavenueopera.org. Note that there is a parking lot but it tends to fill up quickly, so you’ll want to get there not later than 7:30 if you can.

This review originally appeared at 88.1 KDHX, where Chuck Lavazzi is the senior performing arts critic.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Critics on UAO's "Die Walküre"

Union Avenue Opera's production of Wagner's Die Walküre continues its run this weekend. Here's a sample of what KDHX's Chuck Lavazzi, Mark Bretz of Ladue News, Gerry Kowarsky of Two on the Aisle and Sarah Bryan Miller of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch have to say about the production:

Chuck Lavazzi:
"[T]his reduced 'Walküre' still packs a considerable punch, thanks largely to some heavy-duty Girl Power in the cast...Ms. Quagliata is the same powerful presence she was in “Rheingold” while Ms. Smoke perfectly captures Sieglinde’s passion and despair...Ms. LoBianco’s really big moments won’t come until ['Siegfried' and 'Götterdämmerung'] but based on what I saw and heard here I expect very good things from her...Melissa Summer, Cecelia Stearman, and Lindsey Anderson are a formidable trio of Valkyries as well...Nathan Whitson is an appropriately thuggish Hunding...Timothy Bruno brings the kind of vocal power to Wotan that I missed last year...Wotan's famous 'farewell' scene with Brünnhilde was appropriately moving...Teresa Doggett and her crew have done well by the costumes."
Gerry Kowarsky:
"Vocal honors in this production must go to Alexandra LoBianco and Elise Quagliata...from her joyous battle cries to her passionate defense of Siegmund to the defiance of her father, LoBianco's Brünnhilde is the complete package...Quagliata finds the humanity in Fricka's indignation and brings remarkable drama to narrative passages that could seem dry otherwise...Nathan Whitson's powerful voice makes him an imposing Hunding...There are only three valkyries instead of eight, but three valkyries is enough when they are Melissa Sumner as Helmwige, Cecelia Stearman as Waltraute and Lindsey Anderson as Rossweisse."
"I hope St. Louis operagoers come out for this production even if they aren't familiar with Wagner's opera. Union Avenue deserves to be supported not only for its daring but also for its achievement."
Mark Bretz:
"Scott Schoonover conducts a spirited reading of Wagner’s lush composition...to complement stage director Karen Coe Miller’s uniformly polished singers in this rendition...Elise Quagliata’s mezzo-soprano soars as the angered Fricka, while Alexandra LoBianco’s clear soprano resonates in the role of the tortured Brunnhilde...James Taylor’s resplendent tenor captures the angst and turmoil of Siegmund...Amber Smoke brings a fitting melancholy to the unhappy Sieglinde...Timothy Bruno has both the look and the power of the tormented god...Melissa Sumner, Cecelia Stearman and Lindsey Anderson round out the convincing cast...[Patrick] Huber complements the settings with some fine lighting and Teresa Doggett’s costumes bring a sumptuous, mythical look to the proceedings."
"Die Walküre looked and sounded very much like a popular favorite on opening night...[it] is a rare chance, indeed, to see this titanic operatic work performed at all, even in Dove’s and Vick's abbreviated version."
Sarah Bryan Miller:
"'Walküre' continues stage director Karen Coe Miller’s smart, imaginative vision...[The opera] is a big sing, and it demands careful casting...Scott Schoonover found voices up to the task...Alexandra LoBianco’s Brünnhilde, the titular Valkyrie, is a major talent, both vocally and as an actress. She’s a real dramatic soprano who uses her voice and body well, and she still sounded fresh at the evening’s end...Mezzo-soprano Elise Quagliata is a superb singing actress as well...Nathan Whitson’s Hunding...was impressive in every way, with a big dark voice that didn’t quit...As Wotan, bass Timothy Bruno offered an outstanding voice, big and opulent, and a somewhat callow characterization, especially in the early scenes...[Amber] Smoke was most impressive in her last moments onstage, when her beautiful high range was finally revealed...[James] Taylor...has a tenor vocal coloring that made him a good choice for the role."
"Any St. Louisan with any interest in opera should take in this production."
Die Walküre continues its run this weekend: August 23 & 24 at Union Avenue Opera, 733 N. Union Blvd. Performances begin at 8:00pm. Production sung in German with projected English supertitles. Tickets may be purchased online at www.unionavenueopera.org or by calling 314-361-2881.

Friday, August 16, 2013

"Die Walküre" Opens Tonight at Union Avenue Opera

Alexandra LoBianco & Timothy Bruno
Photo © Ron Lindsey, 2013 | All Rights Reserved

Timothy Bruno
Photo © Ron Lindsey, 2013
All Rights Reserved
Union Avenue Opera's four-year journey through Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle continues on the heels of 2012's successful mounting of Das Rheingold. The second installment, Die Walküre, showcases some of Wagner's most renowned music, including his famous "Ride of the Valkyries." UAO presents Die Walküre in a condensed and reduced version by composer Jonathan Dove. This will be the third time the Ring Cycle has been performed in St. Louis. Patricia Rice of the St. Louis Beacon reports that the last two were brought here in 1889 and 1930 by the touring German Opera Company.

Amber Smoke & James Taylor
Photo © Ron Lindsey, 2013 | All Rights Reserved
Wotan, ruler of the gods, wishes to protect his children, but is forced to forsake them when his twin offspring, Siegmund and Sieglinde, find themselves entangled in forbidden love. In an attempt to protect Siegmund, Brünnhilde, Wotan's Valkyrie daughter, disobey's her father's command and is duly punished: Wotan strips her of her immortality and puts her to sleep surrounded by a wall of flames that only the greatest hero can conquer.

Elise Quagliata
Photo © Ron Lindsey, 2013
All Rights Reserved
THE CAST

Three UAO veterans return for Die Walküre: Soprano Alexandra LoBianco, Leonora in 2009's Il Trovatore and the title role in 2011's Turandot, sings the role of Brünnhilde. Mezzo-Soprano Elise Quagliata returns to sing Fricka, the role she portrayed last season in Das Rheingold. Mezzo-Soprano Cecelia Stearman, who sang in Das Rheingold as earth goddess Erda, portrays the valkyrie Waltraute.

Six artists make their UAO debut. Bass Timothy Bruno sings the role of Wotan. Tenor James Taylor and Mezzo-Soprano Amber Smoke portray Siegmund and Sieglinde, respectively. Bass Nathan Whitson appears as Hunding, Sieglinde's husband. Soprano Melissa Sumner and Mezzo-Soprano Lindsey Anderson round out the cast as valkryies Helmwige and Rossweisse, respectively.

Alexandra LoBianco
Photo © Ron Lindsey, 2013
All Rights Reserved
THE CREW

UAO Artistic Director and Conductor Scott Schoonover leads the orchestra. Stage Director Karen Coe Miller returns after staging Das Rheingold last season. Allyson Ditchey serves as Stage Manager. The Design team includes Set & Lighting Designer Patrick Huber, Projection Designer Michael B. Perkins, Costume Designer Teresa Doggett and Production Manager Sean Savoie. Pianist Nancy Mayo serves as rehearsal pianist.

FRIDAY NIGHT LECTURES

Audience members who missed Scott Stearman's August 8th lecture have another opportunity to learn more about Die Walküre. Glen Bauer, Ph.D., Associate Chair of the Webster University Music Department, will give a lecture one hour before each Friday performance (August 16/23) in the Fellowship Gallery of Union Avenue Christian Church. Admittance to this lecture is free and open to the general public.

Nathan Whitson
Photo © Ron Lindsey, 2013
All Rights Reserved
OPENING NIGHT RECEPTION

Want a chance to drink and be merry with cast and crew of Die Walküre on Opening Night? UAO hosts an Opening Night Reception on August 16 after the performance at Tavern of Fine Arts. Click here for more information.

DIE WALKÜRE IN THE MEDIA

Steve Potter chats with Karen Coe Miller, James Taylor and Alexandra LoBianco on a recent episode of Cityscape on 90.7 KWMU.

Patricia Rice of the St. Louis Beacon interviews the cast and crew of Die Walküre.

Sarah Bryan Miller speaks with director Coe Miller, conductor Schoonover and lead soprano LoBianco on the Jonathan Dove reduction and the opera's challenges for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

OnStl contributor Chuck Lavazzi previews the production.

________________________

Die Walküre opens August 16 and runs August 17, 23, 24 at Union Avenue Opera, 733 N. Union Blvd. Performances begin at 8:00pm. Production sung in German with projected English supertitles. Tickets may be purchased online at www.unionavenueopera.org or by calling 314-361-2881.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Need a 'Ring Cycle' Crash Course?

Worried about attending UAO's Die Walküre if you've never seen its predecessor Das Rheingold? Fear not! Classical music humorist Anna Russell will catch you up in her witty, famous and irreverent (but always loving) "analysis" of Wagner's Ring Cycle.


(The above embedded video is a playlist of three videos.)

Die Walküre opens August 16 and runs August 17, 23 and 24 at Union Avenue Opera, 733 N. Union Blvd. Performances begin at 8:00pm. Production sung in German with projected English supertitles. Tickets may be purchased online at www.unionavenueopera.org or by calling 314-361-2881.