Thursday, July 10, 2014

Union Avenue Opera's "La Traviata" Opens Tomorrow

Riccardo Iannello & Zulimar López-Hernández
Photo © Ron Lindsey, 2014 | All Rights Reserved
Union Avenue Opera commences its 20th Anniversary Season this Friday with Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata, presented by Raymond James and running July 11, 12, 18 & 19. Puccini's story of love, loss and longing returns to the Union Avenue Opera stage after its last production in 2002.

Zulimar López-Hernández
Photo © Ron Lindsey, 2014
All Rights Reserved
Set to Verdi's classic score and Francesco Maria Piave's libretto based upon the play and novel La dame aux Camélias by Alexandre Dumas, fils, La Traviata tells the story of a worldly courtesan, Violetta, who decides to leave her life of glamour and frivolity behind for the love of one man, Alfredo. Returning to Union Avenue Opera after twelve years, La Traviata depicts the ultimate operatic life, one filled with grand parties, grander sacrifices, and some of Verdi's most memorable music, including the toast song "Libiamo" and Violetta's virtuosic "Sempre libera." Both long time opera lovers and first-timers will be captivated by this irresistible classic.


Three artists make their UAO debut. Soprano Zulimar López-Hernández sings the role of Violetta, Tenor Riccardo Iannello sings the role of Alfredo and Baritone Phillip Bullock sings the role of Marquis d'Obigny.

Riccardo Iannello
Photo © Ron Lindsey, 2014
All Rights Reserved
Several UAO veterans return for the production. Four of them appeared in last season's Madama Butterfly: Baritone Robert Garner (Germont), Mezzo-Soprano Debra Hillabrand (Flora), Tenor Anthony Heinemann (Gastone) and Soprano Debby Lennon (Annina). Also appearing are Baritone Robert Reed (Dottore Grenvil), Bass Mark Freiman (Baron Douphol) and Tenors Jon Garrett and Philip Touchette as Giuseppe and a Messenger, respectively.


UAO Artistic Director and Conductor Scott Schoonover leads the orchestra. Stage Director Tim Ocel returns after staging UAO's critically-acclaimed Dead Man Walking in 2011. MK Jacobi serves as Stage Manager with Claire Stark as Assistant Stage Manager. The design team includes Set Designer Patrick Huber, Lighting Designer Maureen Berry, Costume Designer Teresa Doggett and Production Manager Sean Savoie. Pianist Vera Parkin serves as repetiteur.


Glen Bauer, Ph.D., Associate Chair of the Webster University Music Department, will give a lecture one hour before each Friday performance (July 11 & 18) in the Fellowship Gallery of Union Avenue Christian Church. Lectures are free and open to the general public; no ticket to the performance required. 

Debra Hillabrand & Phillip Bullock
Photo © Ron Lindsey, 2014 | All Rights Reserved

Want a chance to eat, drink and be merry with cast and crew of La Traviata on Opening Night? UAO hosts an Opening Night Reception on July 11th after the performance at Tavern of Fine Arts. Click here for more information.

Anthony Heinemann
Photo © Ron Lindsey, 2014
All Rights Reserved

Steve Potter chats with Zulimar López-Hernández, Riccardo Iannello and Scott Schoonover on a recent episode of Cityscape on St. Louis Public Radio.

STL TV interviews Scott Schoonover on the upcoming season.

Sarah Bryan Miller of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports on UAO's 20 year milestone, interviews longtime supporter and chorister Douglas Allebach and discusses the opera with stage director Tim Ocel.

Gerry Kowarsky and Bob Wilcox of Two on the Aisle interview Tim Ocel and Zulimar López-Hernández.

Deborah Sharn and Scott Miller of Break a Leg on KDHX interview Scott Schoonover about Traviata and the 20th Season.

Chris King of The St. Louis American interviews Zulimar López-Hernández.

La Traviata opens July 11 and runs July 12, 18 & 19 at Union Avenue Opera, 733 N. Union Blvd. Performances begin at 8:00pm. Production sung in Italian with projected English supertitles. Tickets may be purchased online at or by calling 314-361-2881.

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