Friday, August 22, 2014

Anna Russell Explains The Ring Cycle

Think you'll be confused by the plot of Siegfried without having seen Das Rheingold and Die Walküre first? Fear not! Let British humorist Anna Russell get you up to speed with her succinct, hilarious  analysis of Wagner's Ring Cycle:

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

Siegfried opens August 22 and runs August 23, 29 and 30 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 or by calling 314-361-2881.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

"Siegfried" Opens Tomorrow at Union Avenue Opera

Clay Hilley
Photo © Ron Lindsey, 2014
All Rights Reserved
Union Avenue Opera's four-year journey through Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle continues after the critically lauded Die Walküre from last season with the third opera in the cycle: Siegfried.

Swords are re-forged, dragons slain, a sleeping maiden awakened, treasures reclaimed, and justice dispensed as the power of the gods continues to dwindle. The fearless hero Siegfried, grandson of Wotan, is destined for greatness as he faces a multitude of challenges, including winning the love of Brünnhilde. Siegfried is a wonderful fairytale with the requisite happy ending ... for the moment at least. Siegfried is reduced and adapted by English composer Jonathan Dove. His masterful cuts condense the opera in length to under three hours and will be enhanced by video projections befitting the magnificent grandeur of the Ring Cycle.

Jordan Shanahan and David Dillard
Photo © John Lamb, 2014
All Rights Reserved

Tenor Clay Hilley makes his UAO debut in the title role. He comes to us after engagements as Father Grenville in Dead Man Walking and Radames in Aida. Soprano Alexandra LoBianco, joins him onstage, making her return to the role of Brünnhilde. Last seen as Goro in last season's Madama Butterfly, Tenor Marc Schapman sings the role of Mime, a dwarf that raises the story's hero. Also returning from the Butterfly cast, Baritone David Dillard portrays The Wanderer--the head god Wotan in disguise. Bass Nathan Whitson, Hunding in last season's Die Walküre, returns in the role of the giant-turned-dragon Fafner. Two artists return to roles previously sung in 2012's Das Rheingold: Mezzo Soprano Cecelia Stearman as Erda and Baritone Jordan Shanahan as Alberich. Soprano Kate Reimann sings the role of the Forest Bird.

Cecelia Stearman
Photo © Teresa Doggett, 2014 | All Rights Reserved

UAO Artistic Director and Conductor Scott Schoonover leads the orchestra. Stage Director Karen Coe Miller returns after Das Rheingold and Die Walküre to continue her work on the reduced Ring Cycle. Allyson Ditchey serves as Stage Manager. The design team includes Set and Lighting Designer Patrick Huber, Video Projection Designer Michael Perkins, Costume Designer Teresa Doggett and Production Manager Sean Savoie. Pianist Nancy Mayo serves as repetiteur.

Alexandra LoBianco
Photo © Teresa Doggett, 2014 | All Rights Reserved

Glen Bauer, Ph.D., Associate Chair of the Webster University Music Department, will give a lecture one hour before each Friday performance (August 1st and 8th at 7:00pm) in the Fellowship Gallery of Union Avenue Christian Church. Lectures are free and open to the general public; no ticket to the performance required. 

Marc Schapman and Clay Hilley
Photo © John Lamb, 2014
All Rights Reserved

Want a chance to eat, drink and schmooze with cast and crew of Siegfried on Opening Night? UAO hosts an Opening Night Reception on Friday, August 22nd after the performance at Tavern of Fine Arts. Click here for more information.


Sarah Bryan Miller of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch covers the production, interviewing Clay Hilley.

Gerry Kowarsky and Marc Bretz of Two on the Aisle sit down with Karen Coe Miller and Alexandra LoBianco to discuss Siegfried and the Ring Cycle.

Siegfried opens tomorrow, August 22nd, and runs August 23, 29 and 30 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 or by calling 314-361-2881.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Critics on "A Streetcar Named Desire"

Union Avenue Opera's production of A Streetcar Named Desire concludes its run this weekend. Here's a sample of what Sarah Bryan Miller of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Gerry Kowarsky of Two on the Aisle, Steve Callahan of BroadwayWorld, Gary Scott of KDHX and Mark Bretz of Ladue News have to say about the production. [NOTE: More reviews to come. Stay connected to this blog for later updates.]

Sarah Bryan Miller:
"...a musically and dramatically worthy production of André Previn's 'A Streetcar Named Desire'... 
Lacy Sauter captured the character of Blanche...[her] voice is lovely and well-produced...She made the most of her aria “I want magic,” a beautiful moment in a largely generic score... Katherine Giaquinto is clearly a performer with a future; she is vocally and dramatically secure, attractive and thoroughly musical... Bernardo Bermudez was an appropriately hunky Stanley, with a big, burnished baritone and excellent diction... Anthony Wright Webb’s Mitch was beautifully drawn and sung...He offered both a lovely lyric tenor and believable heartbreak... Conductor Kostis Protopapas had a sure grasp of the score, and led his forces with clarity and energy, in a notable performance... UAO’s small stage was perfect for this intimate production. Set designer Kyra Bishop used it well... Teresa Doggett’s authentic costumes suited the characters admirably... Stage director Christopher Limber used the cast and the set to good advantage."
Gerry Kowarsky:
"The Union Avenue production is so strong... Kostis Protopapas draws fine playing from the orchestra while keeping the sound and balance with the voices at a pace which fits the action... Lacy Sauter's Blanche DuBois is beautifully sung and highly sensitive to her emotional states... Bernardo Bermudez has the swagger of Stanley Kowalski... Katherine Giaquinto's Stella Kowalski is believable both as Stanley's and Blanche's sister... Anthony Webb admirably projects the sweetness and naiveté that sparks Blanche's interest and makes Mitch vulnerable to her artfulness... Kyra Bishop's set...cleverly uses all the space available on the Union Avenue stage... The opera is a worthy evocation of the story's emotions...
If you have any interest at all in the opera, now is the time to see it. Who knows when our next chance will be?"
Steve Callahan:
"'Streetcar' ranks at the very top of the many Union Avenue productions I've enjoyed... 
Scenery by Kyra Bishop and lighting by Sean Savoie beautifully fulfill everything one might wish for this classic Williams drama... Costumer Teresa Doggett...continues her long tradition of perfection... [S]tage director Christopher Limber creates what to me is the best staging of any production I've seen at Union Avenue... Lacy Sauter, as Blanche, and Katherine Giaquinto, as Stella, both have gorgeous clear lyric soprano voices... Miss Sauter shows a wonderfully mature control and subtlety...[Giaquinto's] serenely blissful vocalise after that reconciliatory night with Stanley is one of the high-points of the evening... Baritone Bernardo Bermudez is very much at home in the role of Stanley...a splendid job... [Anthony Webb's] pure and smooth voice perfectly convey's Mitch's shy gentleness... Johanna Nordhorn, as the neighbor Eunice, merits a special nod of praise... Kostis Protopapas deftly leads his singers and orchestra into a performance of great beauty..."
Gary Scott:
As always, Union Avenue provides a first-rate production... Lacy Sauter and Katherine Giaquinto...are both gifted with powerful and unfailing voices, unwavering in accuracy... Bernardo Bermudez and Anthony Wright Webb [both] resonated with warmth and vigor, exuding a rugged yet vulnerable rawness that just might have pleased Tennessee Williams... Kostis Protopapas...held together onstage and below an eclectic score that fused together classical harmony with occasional forays into jazz, Impressionism and atonality...
This is an opera worth seeing, and worth pondering... The tormented and searching characters brought to life by Tennessee Williams, whose creative spirit was in part forged in St. Louis, bring us face to face with the underside of human life that resides uncomfortably among us and, sometimes, within us.
Mark Bretz:
"...a strong and sobering production under the incisive direction of Christopher Limber in his Union Avenue Opera debut... Limber and conductor Kostis Protopapas quickly immerse the audience into the drama with Previn’s sometimes brash, sometimes mournful composition... Kyra Bishop’s scenic design and props beautifully set the table for Williams’ nuanced dialogue...[her] eye for detail supplements the sorrowful tale... Bernardo Bermudez and Katherine Giaquinto share sparks of chemistry that show how Stanley’s primordial impulses brings out Stella’s lusty, earthy nature... Lacy Sauter also is highly effective as she fills Blanche with delusions of grandeur and affectations of elegance that hide her sordid past... Anthony Wright Webb is particularly noteworthy...His singing is tender and heartfelt, making Mitch in some ways the most affected character of all...
Union Avenue Opera’s presentation of A Streetcar Named Desire demonstrates the versatility of Williams’ classic tale of misbegotten love and emotional instability in compelling fashion... Rating: 5 on a scale of 1-to-5."
A Streetcar Named Desire concludes its run this weekend: August 8 and 9 at Union Avenue Opera, 733 N. Union Blvd. Performances begin at 8:00pm. Production sung in English with projected English supertitles. Tickets may be purchased online at or by calling 314-361-2881.