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'La Traviata' Opens Union Avenue Opera's 20th Festival Season

Union Avenue Opera

When Union Avenue Opera opens its 2014 season on July 11 with Verdi’s La Traviata, it will be with a company that is vastly different than the one that mounted its first production 20 years ago. UAO founding artistic director and conductor Scott Schoonover recalled that he had just finished his degree, wanted a chance to conduct and knew a number of singers who needed work. He had just moved to St. Louis to take the position as music director of Union Avenue Christian Church and the church encouraged him to mount an opera there.  Schoonover told Cityscape host Steve Potter, “I had my friends come in from all over, and we put on a show that very first year…with a very tiny budget, $5,000, a string quartet instead of an orchestra and we made the sets and costumes ourselves. Of course, it’s all changed a lot since then.”

Schoonover said the company chose to reprise La Traviata to begin its 20th season to show how far it has come since the production 12 years ago. “The last time we did this we didn’t have an orchestra pit, we had a stage just half the size, we had a very teeny, tiny chorus. We had an even smaller orchestra than we have now, all sorts of things. We wanted to pay a little better homage to the piece. It’s also one of my favorites.”

UAO’s production of La Traviata features soprano Zulimar López-Hernández in the role of Violetta and tenor Riccardo Iannello as Alfredo. Both singers are making their St. Louis debuts in the production. They joined Schoonover in commenting on each of their character’s role in the plot of the opera which revolves around Alfredo’s love for the courtesan Violetta, whether she will return his love and Alfredo’s father Germont’s (played in the UAO production by Robert Garner) efforts to thwart their relationship.

Union Avenue Opera’s 20th season continues with Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire on August 1, 2 8 and 9 and concludes with Siegfried, the third in Jonathan Dove’s reduction of Wagner’s Ring cycle on August 22, 23, 29 and 30.

Related Events

Union Avenue Opera Presents Verdi's "La Traviata"
July 11, 12, 18 and 19, 2014
8:00 p.m.

Union Avenue Opera Presents Previn's "A Streetcar Named Desire"
August 1, 2, 8 and 9, 2014
8:00 p.m.

Union Avenue Opera Presents Jonathan Dove's Reduction of Wagner's "Siegfried"
August 22, 23, 29 and 30, 2014
8:00 p.m.
Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 N. Union Blvd.
(314) 361-2881  Union Avenue Opera Website

Cityscape is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and sponsored in part by the Missouri Arts Council, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis.

Mary Edwards came to St. Louis Public Radio in 1974, just after finishing her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She has served the station in a number of capacities over the years. From 1988-2014 she also taught an undergraduate class in radio production at Webster University. Mary was inducted into the St. Louis Media History Foundation Media Hall of Fame in April, 2017 and received the Gateway Media Literacy Partners' Charles Klotzer Media Literacy Award in 2012. Mary retired from St. Louis Public Radio in 2018, but still serves the station as a St. Louis Symphony Producer.

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