Saturday, July 31, 2010

Pistol-packin' mama

Erica Cochran as Marie
Union Avenue Opera is one of the hidden gems of the local musical theatre scene. Their productions may sometimes be a bit rough around the edges and their theatre in the remodeled sanctuary of the Union Avenue Christian Church may have its acoustic and sight line issues, but their artistic commitment and professionalism are beyond reproach. The second production of their 2010 season, Donizetti’s 1840 romantic opéra-comique romp La fille du régiment (The Daughter of the Regiment), is a truly charming piece of work with a pair of leads that I’d put up against anyone on the Opera Theatre of St. Louis stage.

The circumstances that led Donizetti to write a French romantic comedy were, ironically, less than joyous. His wife Virginia died in 1837 and the broken-hearted composer fled Italy for Paris where, as historian Herbert Weinstock notes, “he began a new life”. Originally written as a quick replacement for a delayed opera by another composer, La fille was initially greeted with indifference by the Parisian public and hostility by Berlioz (then music critic for the Journal des débats). Audiences quickly came around, however, and over the years the title role has become a favorite of high-flying sopranos from Jenny Lind to Joan Sutherland.

The titular daughter, Marie, is a war orphan adopted as a baby by the rather tender hearted French soldiers of the 21st Regiment. Now a beauty with the voice of an angel and a colorful military vocabulary, she loves and is loved by Tonio, who saved her from toppling off an Alp. Their love is opposed initially by her guardian, Sergeant Sulpice, and the other soldiers (who mistake Tonio for a spy) and then by the snobbish Marquise de Birkenfeld who, in a classic comic opera revelation, turns out to be Marie’s long-lost mother. All ends happily, of course, with plenty of rousing ensembles and solo vocal fireworks along the way.

Although still in the early stages of her career, soprano Erica Cochran, as Marie, shows a mastery of comic timing and a light, nimble voice that would do credit to a more experienced singer. Coloratura and comedy are difficult enough individually; in combination they can be a major challenge, but Ms. Cochran excels at both.

Tenor Gregory Schmidt looks, to my eyes, a bit too mature for the role of Tonio, but once he begins to sing all other considerations become secondary. History tells us that the original 1840 Tonio, Mécène Marié de l'Isle, had pitch problems. Had Mr. Schmidt lived back then history would have a different story to tell. His instrument is clear, accurate, and seamless throughout the role’s rather high tessitura. Opera audience love to hear a tenor bounce high Cs off the back wall and Mr. Schmidt has a head voice that can do just that. The opening night audience couldn’t get enough of it, applauding with gusto after his bravura air “Pour mon âme”— a song reckoned to be one of the most difficult in the repertoire.

Baritone David Dillard sings the buffo role of Sulpice with appropriate comic gusto and blends nicely with Ms. Cochran and Mr. Schmidt in their trios (“Tous les trios réunis” being the outstanding example). Contralto Dixie Roberts is also impeccably funny as the self-consciously upper crust Marquise and while she only gets one really solid air to herself - “Pour une femme d mon nom” in the first scene - she delivers it in fine style. Director Jolly Stewart has a nice comic cameo turn in the non-singing role of the Duchess of Krakenthorp and E. Scott Levin displays his substantial comic skills as the harassed butler Hortensius.

There’s no chorus master listed, so I’m not sure whom to congratulate for the fine sound of the ensemble. I can say that conductor Kostis Protopapas does a nice job with the reduced orchestra in what has always seemed to me to be a rather challenging acoustic environment. Director Stewart has, to my taste, given a bit too much stage business to her performers—comedy doesn’t necessarily require that the actors be in constant movement—but most of it works well enough.

There were some intonation issues and lighting problems on opening night and not all the ensemble members seemed equally invested in their roles, but those are minor complaints. The bottom line is that Union Avenue Opera’s La fille du régiment is a solid production of a lively and tuneful score by one of the masters of bel canto. You couldn’t ask for a better break from the oppressive heat and humidity of a St. Louis summer. Note that if you don't arrive on time to park in the church's small lot, the Metro Psychiatric Hospital next door allows audience members to park there as well.

It has been said, by the way, that interest in La fille du régiment tends to rise during wartime, given the libretto’s enthusiastic embrace of all things military. As someone who has lived in a world perpetually at war his entire life, I’m not wholly convinced of that correlation. To me, the backdrop of protracted conflict had rather the opposite effect, casting emotional shadows that were probably not part of the intention of authors Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Jean-François Bayard. Your mileage may vary, of course, but it seem to me that (to liberally paraphrase Milton) darkness need not be visible to discover regions of sorrow where peace and rest can never dwell.

Performances of La fille du régiment continue through August 8th at the Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 Union in the Central West End. For more information, you may call 314-361-2881 or visit the web site at The opera is sung in French with projected English supertitles easily visible from nearly all of the house.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"La fille du Régiment" Opens Friday Night at UAO

(Pictured: Gregory Schmidt & Erica Cochran; Photo: John Lamb)

A tour-de-force for high coloratura voices, culminated by the aria "Ah mes amis" made famous by Pavarotti with its mind boggling 9 high Cs, Gaetano Donizetti's La fille du Régiment ("The Daughter of the Regiment") will open this Friday at Union Avenue Opera. The rambunctious tomboy Marie, an orphan girl raised by France's 21st infantry and serving as its vivandière, is sure to capture hearts, but how will her 'fathers' feel about her falling in love with Tonio, a mere civilian...and an Austrian? The comedic plot takes a twist as Marie learns of regal family ties and is betrothed to an aristocrat. Will the regiment save their 'daughter' from a loveless marriage?

Soprano Erica Cochran, returning to Union Avenue Opera after her debut in 2007's Suor Angelica (Suor Genovieffa) and Gianni Schicchi (Nella), sings Marie. Fresh from his appearance in The Pirates of Penzance, Baritone David Dillard takes on the role of Sergeant Sulpice, Marie's "head father." Baritone E. Scott Levin, Baron Zeta in last season's Die lustige Witwe, appears as Hortensius. Three artists make their UAO debut in this production, including Tenor Gregory Schmidt as Tonio, Mezzo-soprano Dixie Roberts as La Marquise de Berkenfeld and Baritone Cory Schantz as the Corporal.

UAO Principal Stage Director Jolly Stewart stages her thirteenth production with the company. Sarah Rugo serves as Stage Manager. The design team includes Patrick Huber (scenic and lighting) and Lyn DeMoss (costumes). Pianist Nancy Mayo serves as production répétiteur. Kostis Protopapas, of Tulsa Opera, serves as guest conductor. Protopapas was recently interviewed by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about his experience conducting this production. The interview may be read by clicking here.

Be sure not to miss a free opening night lecture on the opera, taking place July 30 at 7pm in the Chapel of Union Avenue Christian Church. (Non-ticket buyers welcome.)

La fille du Régiment runs July 30, 31, August 7 & 8(M). Performances begin at 8pm, except 3pm matinee on Sunday, the 8th. Sung in French with projected English supertitles. Venue: Union Avenue Christian Church located at 733 Union Blvd in St. Louis. To purchase tickets or learn more about this production, please visit the Union Avenue Opera Website or call 314.361.2881

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Interview with 'Fille' Director Jolly Stewart

Operatic Saint Louis interviewed Union Avenue Opera's Principal Stage Director Jolly Stewart about the company's upcoming production of La fille du Régiment. Stewart recently retired from the performance faculty of Washington University after twenty years of teaching. She founded the University's opera program and celebrated her last school year with a production of Die Fledermaus in March. La fille du Régiment marks her thirteenth production with the company.
Operatic Saint Louis: In preparing this opera, what qualities of the score and libretto intrigued you?

Jolly Stewart: The music is delightful. What a sing for both the Marie and the Tonio. Rip snorting difficult and exciting arias, which are sung with great beauty and style by our two singers, Erica Cochran and Gregory Schmidt. One hears bel canto at its best in this opera.

As far as the libretto is concerned, we tried to get the essence of the story told, allowing the wit and charm of the characters to blossom as much as possible.

OSL: This production will be your first Donizetti opera at UAO. How does the experience compare with staging a Mozart, Strauss or Puccini work?

JS: As a director, the thing that draws me into a piece the most is examining the music and text for the "human-ness" in each character. In the music of Mozart, Strauss, and Puccini we hear and see some of the greatest painters and illustrators of character.

In La fille du Regiment we observe great warmth in the relationship between Marie and Sulpice, who is more or less the "head dad." David Dillard, singing Sulpice, your readers might be interested to know, jumped in at the last minute for a singer who canceled. David has been a most fortuitous addition to the cast.

With numerous arias, duets and trios, Marie exhibits as many feelings and emotions as any of the heroines of the above mentioned composers. We also are able to observe the deep love the whole regiment has for Marie. The Marquise is constantly chased by her past and present demons and finally is able to conquer them by a stroke of great love and generosity. Tonio is also exuberantly defined by Donizetti in the famous "high C aria". Then later in the Romance, we see him at his most vulnerable and appealing, as he tries to win the Marquise's approval.

Staging a full Donizetti opera has been an unexpected joy and pleasure.

OSL: Donizetti's score certainly does not want for engaging, sprightly arias and ensembles. Among them, do you have any favorites in particular? What should audiences look out for?

JS: Goodness! Fille is packed with jewels. For exquisite lyricism I would choose Marie's "Il faut partir". For pyrotechnics you can't beat "A mes amis" (the famous tenor aria) and also surprisingly Marie's little aria within the trio at the top of Act II. For me the most delightful piece is the trio Marie, Tonio and Sulpice sing in Act II. Absolutely delicious.

OSL: Have any arias or ensembles been a particular joy or challenge to stage?

JS: The aforementioned trio was a challenge because there is a lot of stage business or choreography. I tried to simplify it by almost always doing the same gesture on the same little word phrases. It is intricate and tricky, but so much fun.

OSL: The success of La fille du Régiment can rise or fall on the strengths of its leading soprano and tenor, given the precedents set by Joan Sutherland, Beverly Sills, Natalie Dessay, Juan Diego Florez and Luciano Pavarotti. What qualities did UAO look for in finding the best possible Marie and Tonio?

JS: Stamina is certainly an important quality, but so much more. In a house the size of Union Avenue Opera, the audience is a real participant. Because of that, we look for people who not only can sing the roles extremely well, but who are also believable visually. Erica Cochran sang with Union Avenue Opera a few years ago in the Puccini Double Bill, so we know her work very well. She is a wonderful singer, extremely musical, a very good actress and has the perfect personality for a "close up" Marie. Greg Schmidt sang a great audition for us in New York and also came highly recommended by Kostis Protopapas, our guest conductor.

OSL: Union Avenue Opera will be presenting Fille in its original French with a libretto driven partially by spoken dialogue. Which version of the Saint-Georges & Bayard dialogue will be featured in this production?

JS: With the expert help of a close friend, Bruce Donnell, who has staged this opera many many times at the Met, San Francisco and numerous other houses, the dialogue has been adapted from several different versions. Kostis and I did some more adjusting as we got into the dialogue rehearsals.

OSL: Dialogue in a foreign-language opera can prove to be more difficult than musical passages, where the inflection is given by the composer's setting of words. How have your singers adapted to the demands of the French?

JS: It has been a challenge for us all, but I think, a good one. Kostis has been immeasurably helpful. We have all learned from him.

OSL: In coordinating the design and look of this production and its locales/era, what sort of inspirations have you had with scenic designer Patrick Huber and costume designer Lyn DeMoss?

JS: I was interested in creating a cartoon look for the sets, cut outs, etc. Then I wanted to throw onto that a very real and touching story.

Patrick Huber, as always, immediately came up with ideas which were exactly what I had imagined. We talked about the artists Paul Klee and Edward Gorey as a starting place. I think mostly for the whimsical feeling I was looking for. I had not worked with Lyn DeMoss before and have found her to have a great and beautiful imagination.

We decided to do the piece not too long after the start of the 19th Century, because of the conflict at that time in Tyrol between the French and an Austrian rebel, Andreas Hofer.

OSL: Audiences will be treated to your cameo in the brief but hilarious role of La Duchesse de Krakenthorp in Act Two. How does it feel to be back onstage after years of being on the other side of the footlights?

JS: Now that's a loaded question! I am looking forward to it. With the help of Sarah Rugo, my excellent Stage Manager and Assistant, I think I can leave the director's seat for a few minutes.

Operatic Saint Louis: What would your "sales pitch" be for anyone unfamiliar with or unsure about attending La fille du Régiment?

Jolly Stewart: I can give you a really good one! I had never seen a live version of the opera before. It would not have been on the top ten wish list of operas I have yet to stage, but I have fallen head over heels in love with it. Beautiful music, very touching story, singers you have to love, conducted by a wonderfully musical and exacting conductor.
La fille du Régiment runs July 30, 31, August 7 & 8(M). Performances begin at 8pm, except 3pm matinee on Sunday, the 8th. Sung in French with projected English supertitles. Venue: Union Avenue Christian Church located at 733 Union Blvd in St. Louis. To purchase tickets or learn more about this production, please visit the Union Avenue Opera Website or call 314.361.2881

Thursday, July 22, 2010

"La fille du Régiment" in Rehearsal

Union Avenue Opera's La fille du Régiment is currently in staging rehearsals. Below, you can take a look at a slideshow of the cast in rehearsal of Act Two.

Pictured: Erica Cochran (Marie), Dixie Roberts (La Marquise de Berkenfeld), David Dillard (Sergeant Sulpice), Gregory Schmidt (Tonio), E. Scott Levin (Hortensius) and Jolly Stewart (La Duchesse de Krakenthorp)

La fille du Régiment runs July 30, 31, August 7 & 8(M). Performances begin at 8pm, except 3pm matinee on Sunday, the 8th. Sung in French with projected English supertitles. Venue: Union Avenue Christian Church located at 733 Union Blvd in St. Louis. To purchase tickets or learn more about this production, please visit the Union Avenue Opera Website or call 314.361.2881

Friday, July 16, 2010

"Pirates" Preview on YouTube

Click below for a preview of The Pirates of Penzance on YouTube including Stage Director Mark James Meier's comments on the operetta interspersed with footage of the cast.

The Pirates of Penzance continues its run tonight, running through the weekend: July 16, 17, 18(M). Performances begin at 8pm; 3pm matinee on Sunday. Venue: Union Avenue Christian Church located at 733 Union Blvd in St. Louis. Sung in English with projected English supertitles. To purchase tickets or learn more about this production, please visit the UAO Website or call 314.361.2881

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Critical Notices for "Pirates"

Sarah Bryan Miller of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Bill Townsend of, Gerry Kowarsky of Two on the Aisle, Chris Gibson of and Sheila R. Schultz of KDHX have offered their critiques on Union Avenue Opera's production of The Pirates of Penzance. Here's a sampling of what they had to say:

The Production
"Gilbert & Sullivan's 'The Pirates of Penzance,' seen Friday night at Union Avenue Opera's season opener, is this company at its very best ... 'Pirates' received an energetic, consistently amusing production. Director Mark James Meier kept things moving nonstop with clever choreography and consistently spot-on timing, abetted by artistic director Scott Schoonover's zippy leadership in the pit. ... These 'Pirates' will steal your heart." --Sarah Bryan Miller

"Conductor and artistic director Scott Schoonover is superb at the music podium, and stage director Mark James Meier keeps things moving at a crisp pace." --Bill Townsend

"Director Mark James Meier has encouraged his cast to give buoyant performances that keep the mood light and the proceedings lively. ... The orchestra played beautifully under Scott Schoonover." --Gerry Kowarsky

"Conductor Scott Schoonover keeps the tone light while gracefully guiding the musicians and singers through their paces." --Chris Gibson

"['When the Foeman Bears His Steel'] is perfectly staged and the expertise of conductor Scott Schoonover is evident." --Sheila R. Schultz
Robert Boldin
"You'll note that Robert Boldin has a shining voice with great range." --BT

"Tenor Robert Boldin was a happy choice as Frederic, the 'slave of duty'; he is appropriately attractive in voice and person." --SBM

"Robert Boldin does fine work as Frederic, displaying a strong, pleasant voice, and handling the romantic lead with considerable aplomb." --CG

"Robert Boldin is very handsome. His voice and his stage presence are just right for the part." --GK
Victoria Botero
"Tiny soprano Victoria Botero looked great and played the do-gooder Mabel in appropriately over-the-top manner." --SBM

"Tiny Victoria Botero has a big soprano voice as Mabel." --BT

"Victoria Botero is a charmer as Mabel." --GK

"Soprano Victoria Botero is splendid as [Frederic's] love interest, Mabel, and she deftly glides her way through the coloratura passages the score provides." --CG

"Botero and Boldin enunciate clearly. Their voices merge with pleasing musical effect." --SRS
Denise Knowlton
"The role of Ruth, the piratical maid-of-all-work, is often given to a singer of limited vocal gifts, but mezzo-soprano Denise Knowlton combined fine comic timing with a really sumptuous voice." --SBM

"Denise Knowlton darn near steals the show as Ruth." --BT

"Denise Knowlton is an impressive singer." --GK

"Denise Knowlton amuses as Frederic's nurse, Ruth." --CG
Todd von Felker
"Todd von Felker, the Pirate King, swaggered nicely and sang effectively." --SBM

"Todd von Felker has a rich baritone as the Pirate King." --BT

"Felker is a gruff, hearty figure as the Pirate King." --GK

"Todd von Felker seems to be having a great deal of fun as the Pirate King." --CG

"Von Felker shines as the bewhiskered King with rich baritone delivery and infectious joie de vivre." --SRS
Andrew Papas
"Andrew Papas is a gregarious Major-General." --BT

"[Papas] has a rich voice and danced well." --SBM

"Andrew Papas cuts a completely comic figure as Major-General Stanley and he gets a lot of laughs." --GK

"Andrew Papas has the proper fussy temperament for the Major-General, and he pulls off his signature number in fine fashion." --CG

"The daughters are clad in exquisite pastel confections when we meet them, each wearing a different color, thanks to costume designer Teresa Doggett. It helps distinguish every girl. Doggett's choice is wise, aesthetically appealing and not as obvious as you may imagine." --SRS

"[Schoonover is] aided by Patrick Huber's colorful scenery, Teresa Doggett's lovely costumes, and Kimberly Klearman's sharp lighting scheme." --CG
Secondaries and Ensemble
"The secondary roles were all nicely done. The chorus of daughters, pirates and policemen sang and danced to near perfection."--SBM

"We have fine singing from the other daughters: Elise LaBarge as Edith, Debra Hillabrand as Kate and Melissa Payton as Isabel. ... We saw nice work by Tom Sitzler as the Pirate King's lieutenant and David Dillard as the Police Sergeant." --GK

"A solid supporting cast includes: Tom Sitzler as Samuel, Elise LaBarge as Edith, Debra Hillabrand as Kate, Melissa Payton as Isabel, and David Dillard as the Sergeant of Police." --CG

The Pirates of Penzance continues its run tomorrow night, running through the weekend: July 16, 17, 18(M). Performances begin at 8pm; 3pm matinee on Sunday. Venue: Union Avenue Christian Church located at 733 Union Blvd in St. Louis. Sung in English with projected English supertitles. To purchase tickets or learn more about this production, please visit the UAO Website or call 314.361.2881

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"The Pirates of Penzance" Opens Friday Night at UAO

Come ride the high seas and frolic on the coast of Cornwall as Union Avenue Opera opens its sixteenth season with the celebrated Gilbert & Sullivan operetta The Pirates of Penzance. Frederic, mistakenly apprenticed to a band of pirates as a little lad by his nursery maid Ruth, is now 21 and thus freed from his piratical indentures. Having fallen in love with Mabel, a lovely daughter of a Major-General, his life as a noble member of society seems all secure...but once the Pirate King discovers a loophole in the terms of Frederic's indentures, the plot thickens! Enjoy the antics of soppy, silly pirates, virtuous Victorian maidens, bumbling British bobbies and a modern Major-General.

UAO last produced The Pirates of Penzance as a concert performance in 2002. For a full synopsis of the operetta, please click here.

(Photo: Robert Boldin & Victoria Botero)

In an interview with Sarah Bryan Miller of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Scott Schoonover offers his thoughts on the production and its director's vision:
"[Pirates is] one of my favorites," he says. "It was the obvious choice for me."

"It's one of the best things Mark has ever done for us," Schoonover says. "He's choreographed every minute of the show. It's taking a lot of energy, especially from our chorus. They're drilling, drilling, drilling everything. There's going to be something to watch at every moment."
Tenor Robert Boldin, who audiences will remember as King Kaspar in last December's Amahl and the Night Visitors, returns to sing the role of Frederic. Soprano Victoria Botero returns to sing Mabel after her critically-acclaimed debut in 2008 as Adina in L'Elisir d'Amore. Mezzo-soprano Denise Knowlton, last seen as Mistress Quickly in 2005's Falstaff, sings Ruth. Baritone and UAO veteran David Dillard sings the Sergeant of Police. Baritones Todd von Felker as the Pirate King and Andrew Papas as Major-General Stanley make their UAO debut in this production.

Stage Director Mark James Meier, fresh from staging a successful Madama Butterfly at Muddy River Opera with internationally known Soprano Michèle Crider, returns for his eighth production with Union Avenue Opera. UMKC graduate student Fiona Carmody serves as Stage Manager. Among the production designers are Patrick Huber (sets), Teresa Doggett (costumes) and Kimberly Klearman (lighting). Pianist Vera Parkin serves as production répétiteur. Scott Schoonover conducts.

Two weeks ago, UAO Artistic Director/Conductor Scott Schoonover and Denise Knowlton sat down with Steve Potter of Cityscape on 90.7 KWMU to discuss the production of The Pirates of Penzance as well as the coming season. Click here to listen.

Be sure not to miss a free opening night lecture on the operetta, taking place July 9 at 7pm in the Chapel of Union Avenue Christian Church. (Non-ticket buyers welcome.)

The Pirates of Penzance opens Friday, July 9th and will run for four more performances July 10, 16, 17, 18(M). All performances begin at 8pm (matinee on 18th begins at 3pm) and take place at Union Avenue Christian Church located at 733 N. Union Blvd in St. Louis. Sung in English with projected English supertitles.

To purchase tickets or find more information about Union Avenue Opera, please call 314.361.2881 or visit the UAO Website.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sneak Peek at UAO "Pirates" in Rehearsal

For a little sneak peek at rehearsal of Union Avenue Opera's The Pirates of Penzance, click on the YouTube video below.

Be sure to revisit Operatic Saint Louis to read more about The Pirates of Penzance which opens July 9th at UAO.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Union Avenue Opera: 16th Season Overview

Union Avenue Opera's 16th season commences on July 9th with Gilbert & Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance.


Audiences this season at UAO will ride the high seas and frolic on the beaches of Cornwall with Gilbert & Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance then traverse the rocky Tyrolean Alps of Gaetano Donizetti's La Fille du Régiment and experience love turned to obsession, Russian-style, in Tchaikovsky's Pikovaya Dama ("The Queen of Spades"). The season concludes with a newly-formed holiday tradition: Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors. (Further information on Amahl will be released in the coming months.)


Chicago-based director Mark James Meier stages the upcoming The Pirates of Penzance. UAO Principal Stage Director Jolly Stewart will return later this month to stage La Fille du Régiment and teams up with guest conductor Kostis Protopapas, of Tulsa Opera. Director Tim Ocel returns to stage Pikovaya Dama, his first full production at Union Avenue Opera.

Set Designer Patrick Huber has designed a festival set for the summer season. Costume Designer Teresa Doggett is at the helm for The Pirates of Penzance and Pikovaya Dama, and Lyn DeMoss will make her costume design debut with UAO on La Fille du Régiment.


UAO is excited to welcome back artists from past seasons.

Cast of Pirates: Robert Boldin (Frederic), Victoria Botero (Mabel, Pirates), Debra Hillabrand (Kate), David Dillard (Sergeant of Police), Denise Knowlton (Ruth), Elise LaBarge (Edith) and Thomas Sitzler (Samuel).

Cast of Fille: Erica Cochran (Marie), David Dillard (Sergeant Sulpice) and E. Scott Levin (Hortensius).

Cast of Pikovaya Dama: Keith Boyer (Tchekalinsky), Mathew Edwardsen (Ghermann), Jon Garrett (Master of Ceremonies), Debra Hillabrand (Paulina/Daphnis), Elizabeth Schleicher (Masha), Thomas Sitzler (Narumov), Cecelia Stearman (Countess), Sylvia Stoner (Lisa) and Clark Sturdevant (Tchaplitsky).

Several artists make their UAO debut this summer:
  • Baritone Todd von Felker (Pirate King, Pirates and Tomsky/Pluto, Pikovaya Dama)
  • Soprano Stella Markou (Chloë, Pikovaya Dama)
  • Baritone Andrew Papas (Major-General Stanley, Pirates)
  • Baritone Nick Probst (Sourin, Pikovaya Dama)
  • Mezzo-Soprano Dixie Roberts (La Marquise de Berkenfeld, Fille)
  • Baritone Cory Schantz (Corporal, Fille)
  • Tenor Gregory Schmidt (Tonio, Fille)
  • Baritone Jordan Shanahan (Prince Yeletsky, Pikovaya Dama)
  • Members of the Ensemble: Sopranos Caetlyn Van Buren, Lindsay Keller, Sarah Rodewald, Leann Schuering and Rachel Smith; Baritones Lawrence Lewis, Greg Storkan and Kevin Nicoletti.

Jolly Stewart will also make a special cameo in La Fille du Régiment as La Duchesse de Krakenthorp!


UAO continues its educational outreach to the public an event in conjunction with its production of La Fille du Régiment: High Tea on Saturday, July 24 at Union Avenue Opera. Patrons will have tea and petit fours, hear musical performances and get a sneak peek at the sets, costumes and staging of Fille. Ahead of the opening of Pikovaya Dama, UAO offers a Poker Night on Saturday, August 14 at the Regional Arts Commission Building. There will be a poker tournament complete with drinks and refreshments. Prizes will be awarded. For more information visit the UAO Website and visit this blog in the coming weeks.


The Pirates of Penzance runs July 9, 10, 16, 17, 18(M). La Fille du Régiment runs July 30, 31, August 7, 8(M). Pikovaya Dama runs August 20, 21, 27, 28. All performances at 8pm, except matinee performances (marked 'M') at 3pm. Productions sung in original languages (English, French and Russian, respectively) with projected English supertitles.

To purchase tickets or find more information about UAO, please call 314.361.2881 or visit