Thursday, November 10, 2011

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis presents Joshua's Boots at the Touhill Performing Arts Center - Nov. 16 - 18

Opera for young people celebrates the achievements of a young African-American cowboy facing prejudice and adversity in the 1870’s American West

St. Louis, MO – Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (OTSL) will present school and public performances of Joshua’s Boots, an opera for young people featuring a cast of students from across the metro area, at the Touhill Performing Arts Center on the campus of University of Missouri – St. Louis on November 16-18.

Set in 1878, Joshua’s Boots is the story of a black teenager who flees from his Tennessee home to seek opportunity in the American West. After racial violence leaves him without a father, Joshua ends up in Dodge City where he is hired by the son of an ex-Confederate ranch owner. After battling hardship and prejudice, he eventually thrives as a cowboy – a fact symbolized by his handsome silver-tipped boots, an emblem of top achievement in the cowboys’ world. Introducing young audiences to opera and a new perspective on the American cowboy, Joshua’s Boots is recommended for families and children fourth grade through twelfth grade.

Written by Adolphus Hailstork with a libretto by Susan Kander, Joshua’s Boots was co-commissioned by OTSL and Lyric Opera of Kansas City in 1999. OTSL’s new production is directed by Michael Shell and conducted by Joseph Marcheso. The production is designed by Robert Morgan with costumes by Jennifer “J.C.” Krajicek and lighting by Joe Clapper.

Joshua’s Boots will be performed by a cast of twenty-one students from the metro area. Eight of the students are current participants or recent alumni of OTSL’s acclaimed Monsanto Artists-in-Training program, which provides college level voice instruction to select high school students throughout St. Louis city and county. The students will be joined by three young professional artists: soprano Katherine Jolly, a Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions winner and Yum-Yum in OTSL’s 2007 production of The Mikado; baritone Jorell Williams, a recent prizewinner of the Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition; and tenor Kyle Erdős Knapp, an OTSL Gerdine Young Artist during the 2011 season.

Joshua’s Boots is made possible with a leadership gift from Dana Brown Charitable Trust, U.S. Bank Trustee and with generous support from Monsanto Fund, with special thanks to Pi Beta Phi/Sign of the Arrow. Joshua’s Boots is part of OTSL’s award-winning education and outreach programs, which annually reach nearly 11,500 children throughout Missouri and Illinois.

A public performance will be presented on Friday, November 18 at 7 p.m. at the Touhill Performing Arts Center, University of Missouri – St. Louis. Tickets are $12 per person and are available by calling (314) 516-4949 or (866) 516-4949 or online at

Four performances for schools will be held on Wednesday, November 16 at 11 a.m., Thursday, November 17 at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., and Friday, November 18 at 10 a.m. Tickets for the school performances are $6 for students and teachers. Excerpts from the opera will also be performed for home school audiences on Wednesday, October 26 at 10:30 a.m. as part of the Missouri History Museum’s Homeschool Days program. Contact Dan Mayo at (314) 963-4251 or to reserve tickets for the school performances.