Top Operas In St. Louis

July 18, 2016 7:00 AM

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Whether you’re a seasoned aficionado or just a bit opera-curious, St. Louis is brimming with events for you. From cutting edge experimental works to lavishly staged traditional pieces, these five venues cover all the bases. In addition to full performances, most of the STL opera companies also offer lectures, educational outreach programs, meet and greet opportunities with the artists and more.
Opera Theatre Saint Louis
Loretto-Hilton Center
Webster University
130 Edgar Road
Webster Groves, MO 63119
(314) 961-0644
www.opera-stl.org

Opera Theatre performs world-class opera productions during a summer season that usually spans the months of May and June. These are lavish, exquisite productions of classic and avant-garde operas. Opera Theatre has been an innovator in the opera world; for instance, this year. OTSL was the site of the world premiere of “Shalimar the Clown,” a staggeringly powerful new work based on a book by Salman Rushdie. OTSL is unique in that the performers sing all operas in English, and the translations are as much an art form as the music, lyrics, set design and costuming.

Union Avenue Opera
733 N. Union Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63108
(314) 361-2881
unionavenueopera.org

Union Avenue Opera is a truly unique St. Louis institution, offering a refreshingly creative approach to a very traditional art form. The company had its beginning in 1995 when director Scott Schoonover first produced an event on a shoestring budget at the Union Avenue Church. Today, the chapel has an expanded stage and an orchestra and attracts gifted artists from around the country. Attending a UAO performance is a treat. The chapel setting is both intimate and awe-inspiring, and the set designs are creative and satisfying. The quality of the vocal performances leaves absolutely nothing to be desired, yet the ticket prices are reasonable.

Winter Opera St. Louis
Skip Viragh Center for the Arts at Chaminade
425 S. Lindbergh Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63131
(314) 865-0038
www.winteroperastl.org

Since the other companies have their seasons in the summer, Winter Opera St. Louis fills the gap during the opposite season. From late fall until early spring, Winter Opera stages full-length versions of classics in their original languages with projected English titles. The productions feature talented voices from across the country as well as local talent. In addition to the staged productions, Winter Opera puts on some fundraising events, including Opera Nights at Dominic’s Restaurant, that are noteworthy in their own right.

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Gateway Opera
Washington University’s 560 Music Center Ballroom Theater
560 Trinity Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63130
www.gatewayopera.org

The name “Gateway” places this opera company firmly in St. Louis, the Gateway to the West, but also denotes the organization’s intention to be a sort of “gateway drug” that brings new fans into the world of opera. GO is in its third season of presenting fun, accessible, affordable operas featuring emerging professionals. The selection of short or innovative English-language materials intends to make opera appealing to a new generation. GO also maintains a web page with information on all the opera companies in St. Louis and the schedule of productions.

Touhill Performing Arts Center
1 University Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63121
(314) 516-4949
www.touhill.org

If your opera itch isn’t getting satisfied by the four local companies above, look to Touhill’s upcoming events calendar. Touhill has hosted a number of operatic events in the past, ranging from UMSL student and faculty performances to a visit from the Beijing Opera Company. A night of opera at Touhill is sure to be an event you will not soon forget.

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Lauren Haas is a nomadic freelance writer who travels the world, using St. Louis as her base. Visit her blog at http://www.thesoulofajourney.com.

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