The company's permanent warehouse space "makes a big difference," says Galati. For the first three years of its existence, Winter Opera Saint Louis depended on the generosity of supportive individuals and arts organizations to help store accumulated props, sets and costumes. After discussing a need for storage space with production sponsor Dr. Daniel Phillips, Galati was soon approached by Phillips and Mark Tempkin with an offer of a 10,000 square foot warehouse they currently co-owned. The space has been in use since March, and Galati looks forward to the possibilities it will afford the company, primarily investment into more props, costumes and scenery. Once the space is filled, Galati wants to rent out inventory to other opera companies in the area. Above all, the artistic director finds having one dedicated storage location far easier on operations.
|Winter Opera St. Louis Office, Marconi Ave|
|Skip Viragh Center for the Arts|
In planning the upcoming season, Jarvi says that Puccini's La Bohème came up in discussion immediately. This will be Jarvi's first full Bohème, having served as Associate Conductor on the last New York City Opera production at Lincoln Center and conducting only segments or single acts of the piece. Jarvi shares a story about his first opera audition for Placido Domingo's Young Artist Program, in which he was instructed to conduct and sing all of Act I: "I learned it within an inch of my life," he says. Jarvi's hard work paid off when Domingo instructed him to conduct "Donde lietà" while the opera star sang. "I may be the only person to have ever heard Domingo sing Mimì." Galati has several good reasons to produce Bohème, especially at the Skip Viragh Center: "We always want to involve children, so it will be great to have a children's chorus once again. If we are going to have this big theatre, we might as well make it a big splash!"
"With Bohème as an anchor," Jarvi says, "we thought of what we could perform that was different from what has been done in the past but also could be performed with a smaller orchestra at the Saint Louis Woman's Club." Thus, Richard Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos was chosen. Jarvi finds the German chamber opera "perfect for the kind of stage and theater that the Woman's Club offers." Galati felt that it was time to add a German opera to the company repertory and give some young singers the opportunity to perform it. "It will be a nice change to step out of our bounds," she says, and adds that with the dinner before (or after, depending) a production at the Woman's Club, "it's always a big event!"
Bohème and Ariadne chosen, Galati knew that the first-ever production at the Skip Viragh Center would need to be something lighter in order to attract new audience members and ease into the logistics of a much larger space before jumping into a big opera. "We had hoped to do a Pops Concert," she says, but the cost of full orchestrations was prohibitive. After searching high and low, Galati discovered A Grand Night for Singing, a 1993 Tony nominated musical revue of Rodgers & Hammerstein songs. This production was affordable and dovetailed well with Jarvi and Galati's desire to perform a piece in English from the American musical theater. Having conducted several Pops Concerts with the Kansas City Symphony, Jarvi is excited to dive into repertoire that holds a special place for him as a child. "I grew up with all of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals that were turned into films. My mother couldn't get enough of them," he says. Just last year, Jarvi had the honor of performing with the Von Trapp Family Singers (descendants of the Captain and Maria) and was moved over the most simple songs. "These tunes carry a lot of emotional weight for me since they are tied into so many memories of my childhood."
Winter Opera Saint Louis' fifth season begins with Rodgers & Hammerstein's A Grand Night for Singing on Friday, November 4th (8pm) and Sunday, November 6th (4pm) at the Skip Viragh Center for the Arts on the campus of Chaminade Preparatory School, 425 S. Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis, MO. Tickets can be purchased by calling 314-865-0038 or visiting the company's website: http://www.winteroperastl.org/ where you can find more information on Ariadne auf Naxos, La Bohème and other special events throughout the year.