Story: In part three of Richard Wagner’s mythical tetralogy, The Ring Cycle, the hero Siegfried spends his days cajoling Mime, the Nibelung dwarf and brother of Alberich who raised Siegfried after the deaths of his parents, Siegmund and his sister Sieglinde. For his part, Mime hopes to manipulate Siegfried so that he can possess the fabled Ring.
As the summer winds down, many of St. Louis’ top arts organizations are ramping up a new season. We asked in-the-know arts professionals what they’re most looking forward to in the world of visual and performing arts.
Story: A young man named Alfredo Germont is introduced to a popular, partying courtesan, Violetta Valery, and falls in love with her. Improbably, when Alfredo proposes that Violetta move from Paris to live with him in the countryside, she accepts. Fearful that she is dying from her fast living, she thinks that this might offer her a saving option.
Story: Encouraged by his Uncle Mike, Mitch grew up wanting to be a jazz pianist. After college and briefly dabbling in his desired profession, however, he ends up in journalism. He does pretty well at it, too, as an ambitious sports reporter who eventually nabs a regular column for a daily newspaper as well as radio and TV opportunities that fuel the self-centered writer.
Story: Wotan, ruler of the gods, conceives a plan to restore his power following the loss of the Ring of the Nibelung to the dwarf Alberich. Through his relationship with the goddess Erda he has fathered several warrior daughters known as the Walkures (Valkyries), who collect slain soldiers from battlefields to guard Valhalla, the home of the gods.
Story: B.F. Pinkerton, a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy stationed in Japan in the early 20th century, leases a house in Nagasaki from a marriage broker named Goro. Through Goro he also enters into a marital agreement, which can be renewed monthly, with a 15-year-old geisha girl, Cio-Cio-San (“Butterfly”). Sharpless, the American counsul, advises Pinkerton that Cio-Cio-San may take the arrangement more seriously than Pinkerton, who considers Cio-Cio-San merely a dalliance until he marries a “real” American wife.
Union Avenue Opera (UAO) is heating up the summer with two emotive classics: Puccini’s heart-wrenching Madama Butterfly and Wagner’s embattled Die Walküre. Artistic director and conductor Scott Schoonover recently spoke with LN about the productions and also gave us a glimpse into next year’s 20th anniversary season.
Story: Writer Charles Bukowski (1920-94) lived most of his life in Los Angeles, and derived inspiration for many of his works from the City of Angels. He wrote during the same period as many of the Beat Generation writers, including poet Allen Ginsberg and novelists Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs.
Story: It’s a typical morning at the Goodman household. Dan is getting ready to leave for work, while Diana rouses their son and daughter for school. It becomes quickly apparent, though, that all is now well when Diana begins to make sandwiches on the kitchen floor.
Story: Bernard is an architect, and a very successful one at that. When he’s not designing fancy buildings, he’s designing romantic conquests from his fabulous apartment in Paris. When his old chum Robert pays an unexpected visit, Bernard is delighted to welcome him and promptly introduces Robert to his fiancée, an American stewardess named Gloria.
DATE AND LOCATION CHANGED, CATERER ADDED FOR INAUGURAL ST. LOUIS THEATER CIRCLE AWARDS
Performances by local professional theater companies, ranging in size from The Muny and its productions in the 11,000-seat Forest Park amphitheater to small companies performing in modest spaces throughout the area, will be recognized at the inaugural Louie Awards.
Scott Schoonover, Betty and Jack Swanson
Story: David Selznick, boy wonder movie producer in Hollywood, is hyperventilating about his latest project: The screen adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s blockbuster novel, Gone with the Wind. He’s had a string of hits, but he still feels the pressure of being MGM bossman Louis Mayer’s son-in-law. So, here in 1939 he pulls acclaimed director Victor Fleming off the set of a movie project titled The Wizard of Oz, calls up his go-to writer, Ben Hecht, and informs them that he wants to rewrite the screenplay for Mitchell’s opus in a mere five days and needs their help to do so.
Story: Andrew Jackson, America’s seventh president (1829-37), was not born into the landed gentry. Quite the opposite, Jackson endured a harsh life growing up on the Western frontier from the time of his birth in 1767. Orphaned at age 14, he struck out on his own with a fervent hatred of the British and a burning desire to take land away from Native Americans for the benefit of European immigrants. Jackson eschewed the way of politics in Washington, D.C. and carved his own career as a populist and the people’s choice.
Story: Deep in the Rhine River, three maidens guard the immeasurably valuable Rhinegold. The gold can be taken and forged into a ring that will give its owner immense power, but only at the expense of forsaking love, which the maidens say is one emotion no one can truly renounce with any happiness. Nonetheless, a Nibelung dwarf named Alberich, spurned by the maidens, steals the gold.
Story: Riccardo, Count of Warwick and Governor of Boston in the late 17th century, is secretly in love with Amelia, wife of his secretary, best friend and confidant Renato. So, the governor is delighted when he learns that Amelia’s name is on the guest list for an upcoming masked ball. When Renato tells him about a conspiracy to have him murdered, Riccardo dismisses the danger. Instead, he decides to follow up on information obtained by his page Oscar and pay a visit incognito to a fortune teller named Ulrica, who has been condemned to death.
Story: Rob Gordon is a walking encyclopedia of rock music. He’s so in tune with the sounds of his life that he has vinyl selections in his own independent record store categorized autobiographically. His Championship Vinyl shop is a haven for nerdy guys who like to browse through his legion of prized LPs, or maybe even work there as is the case with assistants Barry and Dick.
Back in 1994, Scott Schoonover launched a daring initiative: His Union Avenue Opera (UAO) was founded to bring affordable, professional, original-language opera to St. Louis. UAO has thrived in the last 18 years, and continues to build its loyal following. This season’s schedule of three works begins with George Frideric Handel’s Acis and Galatea, which will be performed on April 27, 28 and 29 at UAO’s performance space in the sanctuary of Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 N. Union Blvd in the Central West End.
Allison Vernon-Williams is a junior at a Baltimore finishing school for girls with a loving grandmother, a steady boyfriend and an inner track to the American dream for young women in 1954.
The year 2011 yielded an abundance of significant news in local theater. Eleven presentations stood out above the rest. In ascending order, here’s a list of the year’s best productions:
Story: It's December 1939, and the genteel folks of Atlanta are atwitter with the impending debut of the film version of Margaret Mitchell's Civil War drama, Gone With the Wind. Hollywood legends will be in attendance at the gala and Lala Freitag, a somewhat spoiled college dropout and member of a wealthy Jewish family, yearns to be a part of the action. Simultaneously, she and her pushy mother Boo are pulling all the strings to get Lala a date to the posh event of the German-Jewish social set, Ballyhoo.
STORY: Sr. Helen Prejean tells her colleague, Sr. Rose, that she has been contacted by her penpal, a convict named Joseph de Rocher. The Louisiana State Penitentiary inmate has asked Sr. Helen to be his spiritual advisor. De Rocher, who with his brother Anthony was convicted in the deaths of two teenagers, is sentenced to die for his crime. Sr. Helen and De Rocher get off to a rocky start in their relationship, but she tells him that she will be his advisor.