This summer, Union Avenue Opera will make its long-awaited return to its main stage within the historic Union Avenue Christian Church at 733 N. Union Blvd, just north of the intersection of Union and Delmar Boulevards.
Known for its commitment to presenting operas in their original language, Union Avenue Opera will offer a season of three operas opening with Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece Eugene Onegin (July 8, 9, 15, 16) who last appeared on the UAO stage in 2003 to critical acclaim. The season will also see the return of Verdi’s Italian riot Falstaff (July 29, 30, August 5 and 6) which the company last produced in 2005. Rounding out the 2022 season will be Stephen Sondheim’s UAO debut and of the charming A of Hugh Wheeler. Little night music (August 19, 20, 26, 27).
“Returning to our home stage after these heartbreaking two years is a happy ending to the uncertainty we have faced during this pandemic,” said UAO Founder and Artistic Director Scott Schoonover. “Our first two productions are audience and personal favorites from our 28 years of opera production – Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin and Verdi’s Falstaff. Director Octavio Cardenas will make his UAO debut with Eugene Onegin bringing his own special brand of visceral and physical direction to the UAO stage.Jon Truitt returns to direct Falstaff (Jon’s favorite opera) with his time-tested comedic style, and the maestro Stephen Hargreaves will return to the UAO pit.
“Our third production is a company and songwriting debut with Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. I’ve wanted to perform this show at the UAO for many years and I’m so thrilled it’s finally happening!” said Schoonover. “Annamaria Pileggi will return to lead this stellar cast starring St. Louis’ Debby Lennon as Desirée. It’s a wonderful story with so much memorable music that wraps up a season that is sure to offer something for everyone. world!I know we often say, but this is truly a season not to be missed – it’s packed full of amazing voices, actors, orchestras and stage crew eager to get back to great stories on stage close to the UAO.”
Single tickets range from $35 to $55 and are available at unionavenueopera.org or by calling 314-361-2881. Discounts are available for seniors (65+), military/educators, and young audiences (under 18). All performances begin at 8:00 p.m. and free parking is available in the car parks behind the venue and additional parking is available on the street.
by Pytor Ilitch Tchaikovsky: EUGENE ONEGINE
July 8, 9, 15, 16 at 8 p.m.
Presented in Russian with projected English surtitles
Directed by Scott Schoonover
Directed by Octavio Cardenas
Libretto by Konstantin Shilovsky and Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky
A cautionary tale of what was, what wasn’t and what could have been.
Tatiana, a lovesick country girl, declares her love for Onegin and finds herself rejected by the disenchanted aristocrat. Onegin, indifferent to the feelings of others, ignores Tatiana’s advances to pursue Olga, the fiancée of his friend Lensky. A duel begins and Onegin finds himself victorious although deeply tormented. He returns years later to find Tatyana happily married to Prince Gremin. Struck by her beauty, Onegin declares her love for her to come face to face with the madness of her naivety. Eugene Onegin is a sophisticated, melancholy masterpiece from one of everyone’s most beloved classical music composers. Tchaikovsky’s lush melodies are enhanced by the opera’s unique folk tunes, infectious waltzes and passionate arias that bring Alexander Pushkin’s verse novel to life like never before.
Under Artistic Director Scott Schoonover, Robert Garner (Nabucco, Nabucco) and William Davenport (Hoffmann, The Tales of Hoffmann) will return to the UAO in their early roles as Onegin and Lensky respectively. No stranger to the role of Tatyana, Zoya Gramagin will make her UAO debut. Isaiah Musik-Ayala (Basilio, Il barbiere di Siviglia) and Melody Wilson (Fenena, Nabucco and Mrs. Miller, Doute) return respectively as Prince Gremin and Olga with local artists Debbie Stinson as Madama Larina, Victoria Carmichael as as Filippyevna, Marc Schapman as Triquet, and Benjamin Worley as Zaretsky. This will be the first UAO film by acclaimed director Octavio Carendas. Patrick Huber will provide stage and lighting design with costume design by Teresa Doggett.
Eugene Onegin – Robert Garner
Tatiana – Zoya Gramagin*
Lensky – William Davenport
Olga – Melody Wilson
Filippyevna – Victoria Carmichael
Madam Larina – Debbie Stinson
Prince Gremin – Isaiah Musik-Ayala ^
Monsieur Triquet – Marc Schapman
Zaretsky – Benjamin Worley
Giuseppe Verdi: FALSTAFF
July 29, 30, August 5, 6 at 8 p.m.
Presented in Italian with projected English surtitles
Directed by Stephen Hargreaves
Directed by Jon Truitt
Libretto by Arrigo Boito
Beverage. Cheat. Scheme. Repeat. Don’t be caught off guard…
Old, lewd and unlucky, Sir John Falstaff can’t resist the ladies. The madman hatches a plan to reverse his bad luck and sets his sights on not one, but two married women. Sharper than they look, Alice and Meg discover the obnoxious Falstaff’s plan to callously seduce and deceive them. The women unite and with the help of Nannetta and Dame Quickly, they concoct a plan to teach him a lesson he will never forget and put him in his place once and for all. Add to that a jealous husband, a pair of young lovers and a touch of the supernatural and what ensues is a sophisticated comedy filled with failed plans and sloppy disguises. Falstaff, Verdi’s rowdy effervescence, seethes with irrepressible wit and charm in this adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor.
Hot on the heels of the company’s debut last summer, Robert Mellon (Figaro, Il barbiere di Siviglia) will lead the cast of returning artists as Sir John Falstaff. No stranger to the UAO scene Brooklyn Snow (The Heroines, The Tales of Hoffmann and Cunegonde, Candide) will reunite with her Candide co-star Jesse Darden (Candide) as the two young lovers, Nannetta and Fenton. St. Louis-based husband and wife duo Jacob Lassetter and Karen Kanakis will portray Ford and his wife Alice for the production as Janara Kellerman (Rosina, Il barbiere di Siviglia) returns as Dame Quickly, and Melody Wilson will star in seen again on the UAO stage, this time in her first role as Meg Page. A trio of St. Louis-based performers round out the cast with Clark Sturdevant as Bardolfo, Mark Freiman as Pistola, and Anthony Heinemann as Dr. Caius. Stephen Hargreaves directs while Jon Truitt directs. Sets by Lex Van Bloomestein and costumes by Teresa Doggett will be enhanced by lighting design by Patrick Huber.
Sir John Falstaff – Robert Mellon
Alice Ford – Karen Kanakis
Nannetta – Brooklyn Snow
Fenton – Jesse Darden
Lady Quickly – Janara Kellerman
Meg Page – Melody Wilson
Bardolfo – Clark Sturdevant
Pistol – Mark Freiman
Dr Caius – Anthony Heinemann
Stephen Sondheim: A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC
August 19, 20, 26, 27 at 8 p.m.
Presented in English with projected English surtitles
Directed by Scott Schoonover
Directed by Annamaria Pileggi
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Books by Hugh Wheeler
Orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick
Proposed by a film by Ingmar Bergman
Originally produced and directed on Broadway by Harold Prince
Lovers reunite, passions rekindle and a new romance blossoms in the magic of music on a summer night.
A Little Night Music explores the tangle of affairs centered around glamorous actress Desirée Armfeldt and the two married men who love her: a lawyer named Frederik Egerman and Count Carl-Magnus Malcom. The two men, along with their jealous wives, agree to join Désirée at her family’s estate for a scandalous “Weekend in the Country” under the watchful eyes of the ironic matriarch of the family and a harmonious Greek choir. With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and the book by Hugh Wheeler, it’s no wonder A Little Night Music won the Tony Award for Best Musical. From the romance of Nocturnal Waltzes to the hauntingly beautiful “Send in the Clowns”, Sondheim’s score is imbued with humor and warmth, seamlessly weaving musical theater and operetta into this tantalizing tale.
Debby Lennon (Ms. Mullin, Carousel) returns to the UAO stage to lead this stunning cast as Desirée Armfeldt under the direction of Annamaria Pileggi, and Scott Schoonover directs. Peter Kendall Clark (Older Thompson, Glory Denied) and Brooklyn Snow, making his second appearance of the season, also return to the UAO scene, as newly married Frederick and Anne Egerman. Eric J. McConnell makes his UAO stage debut as Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm and Leann Schuering (Josephine, HMS Pinafore) as his wife Charlotte. Local actress Teresa Doggett, best known for her work as the UAO’s costume designer for the past fifteen seasons, makes her UAO stage debut as matriarch Madame Armfeldt alongside Amy Maude Helfer as restless maid Petra and Arielle Pedersen as young Fredrika. A host of St. Louis talent rounds out the cast, including James Stevens as Henrik Egerman, Jordan Wolk as Butler Frid, and Grace Yukiko Fisher, Gina Malone, Sarah Price, Joel Rogier, and Philip Touchette as of the “Liebeslieders”. C. Otis Sweezey will provide stage design for A Little Night Music as well as costume design by Teresa Doggett and lighting design by Patrick Huber.
Desiree Armfeldt – Debby Lennon
Frederick Egerman – Peter Kendall Clark
Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm – Eric J. McConnell*
Charlotte Malcolm – Leann Schuering
Madame Armfeldt – Teresa Doggett*
Anne Egerman – Brooklyn Snow
Henrik Egerman – James Stevens
Petra – Amy Maude Helfer*
Fredrika – Arielle Pedersen*
Mrs. Nordstrom – Gina Malone
Mrs Anderssen – Grace Yukiko Fisher
Mrs. Segstrom – Sarah Price*
Mr. Erlanson – Philip Touchette
Mr. Lindquist – Joel Rogier
Frid – Jordan Wolk
A Little Night Music is presented through a special arrangement with Music Theater International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI. www.mtishows.com
*UAO stage debut
^ Cast change
About the Union Avenue Opera
UAO was founded in 1994 to bring affordable, professional, original-language opera to St. Louis, a mission the company continues to pursue to this day. UAO is committed to hiring the most talented artists, directors, designers, and technicians both locally and across the United States. UAO offers promising singers the first stepping stone to their professional career. The company celebrated its 25th anniversary season in 2019 and delivers vibrant and affordable opera experiences in original languages to audiences that reflect the breadth and diversity of the St. Louis region. UAO is a publicly registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in Missouri.