A native Kansan I have a BA (Math and Theatre) and MA (Theatre). I was working on a PhD in Theatre when IBM sniffed my math background and lured me away with money enough to feed my (then two) children. Nevertheless I've been active in theatre all my life--having directed fifty-three productions (everything from opera in Poughkeepsie to Mrozek in Woodstock to musical melodrama in Germany) and I've acted in seventy others. Now that I'm retired I don't have that eight-to-five distraction and can focus a bit more. I've regularly reviewed theatre in St. Louis for KDHX since 1991 and am tickled now to also join BWW.
Orpheus could charm the very stones with his lyre and his singing. Just such magic can be seen on the stage of Opera Theatre St. Louis when Jennifer Johnson Cano portrays the mythical superstar in the company's current production. She gives an utterly stunning performance.OTSL Stages a Shocking Story in AN AMERICAN SOLDIER June 9, 2018
Of all the composers in the world Giuseppe Verdi is by far the most popular. Of all the operas in the world his 'La traviata' is by far the most frequently performed. Have you missed out on this mega hit? You can fill in that cultural gap with the splendid production now offered by Opera Theatre of St. Louis.BWW Review: The Bantam of the Opera Strikes Again! May 15, 2018
For several seasons I've searched for a term to describe Gateway Opera. In a city flush with larger companies-Opera Theater St. Louis, Union Avenue Opera, and Winter Opera-which offer truly 'grand opera', what can one call this little company which gives us such delicious bite-sized treats? They're so small, so full of feisty energy and spirit.
Aha! I think this company is 'The Bantam of the Opera'! And, like that murderous older haunting figure, Gateway Opera, in it's evening of '15 Minute Mozarts,' really slays 'em-but without the need of a chandelier. The grandest chandelier would be dimmed by the brightly blazing talents on display at The Chapel last week-end.BWW Review: Winter Opera of St. Louis Presents L'ELISIR D'AMORE March 12, 2018
We went out into the chilly spring evening - and it became, for me, one of the most totally pleasing evenings of opera I've ever experienced. Winter Opera of St. Louis presented Donizetti's 'L'Elisir d'Amore' in a production that was as near perfection as one could ever ask.BUD, NOT BUDDY Gets Live Jazz Support February 14, 2018
The Metro Theater Company produces some of the best children's theater you'll ever see. They've been at it for over four decades. Now they have opened Bud, Not Buddy at the newly reopened Grandel Theater.BWW Review: Winter Opera Brings Pearls to St. Louis January 31, 2018
Sooner or later it had to happen. Somebody had to notice the similarities between pearl divers, who must free-dive as deep as one hundred feet, and opera singers, who must make one breath last to the very end of that bel canto cadenza. Well, in 1863 Georges Bizet and his librettists saw that link between these two crafts of gifted breathers and brought it to the stage in the opera Les pcheurs de perles or The Pearl Fishers. Now Winter Opera has brought it to St. Louis in a lovely production that played January 26 and 28.BWW Review: Winter Opera's 'The Student Prince' is superb! November 16, 2017
Now, modern scholars tend to exonerate Lucrezia from being the diabolical poisoner that her enemies have portrayed for 400 years. But let's face it, that diabolical Lucrezia makes much better opera. Donizetti knew that, as shown in his 1833 opera about her. Victor Hugo displayed the same sensibility in his hyper-melodramatic tragedy which appeared in the same year. In this new opera, Borgia Infami, Lucrezia is tainted with those same old sins - a little incest and the poisoning of a whole dinner party - including (inadvertantly) her own beloved bastard son.BWW Review: HANSEL UND GRETEL at Union Avenue Opera August 23, 2017
The Union Avenue Opera has opened a delightful production of H nsel und Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck. You'll never hear this work performed by a more glorious collection of voices.BWW Review: CAROUSEL at Union Avenue Opera August 10, 2017
The Union Avenue Opera is so good at fulfilling our expectations - our expectations of really fine traditional opera. But once in a while they enjoy surprising us, jerking us out of that normal path. For instance, with 'Trouble in Tahiti' several years ago the orchestra was a jazz trio. Now this splendid little company surprises us again with a lovely production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1945 Broadway classic, Carousel. It's the familiar story of a young mill-worker who makes the tragic mistake of falling in love with a rough but beautiful carnival barker.BWW Review: Will Albert Herring ever shed his innocence? July 11, 2017
The Opera Theater of St. Louis has opened the fourth and last production of it's forty-second festival season. It's Mozart's final opera, La clemenza di Tito, or (as it's billed for this English-language performance) simply Titus. Everything about this production - from its glorious voices and orchestral display to the set, costumes, lights and sound - is as near perfect as could be imagined.BWW Review: Two Icons Meet in OTSL's THE TRIAL June 15, 2017
The American premiere of The Trial has opened at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. This is a very major event in opera. Franz Kafka's nightmare tale of Joseph K, trapped in an enigmatic trial for his life, has fascinated readers since it appeared in 1925. Composer Philip Glass read the novel as a youth and even then he yearned to write an opera based on it. But Glass kept that idea 'in his pocket' for sixty years. It was not until he received a commission from the Music Theatre Wales, the Royal Opera, Theatre Magdeburg and the Scottish Opera that Glass was able to fulfill that dream. The London premiere of The Trial opened in 2014.OTSL reads Steinbeck's righteous sentence with a commanding voice. May 31, 2017
What a show! Opera Theatre of St. Louis has opened The Grapes of Wrath, a work by Ricky Ian Gordon and Michael Korie. I have never in my life been more emotionally moved by an opera than by this glorious production.BWW Review: A Beautiful 'BUTTERFLY' Alights in St. Louis May 24, 2017
(Thus review first appeared on KDHX, St. Louis.)
The wonderful Opera Theater of St. Louis has opened its forty-second season with a deeply satisfying production of Giacomo Puccini's 'Madam Butterfly'. Opera Theatre has grown to be among the world's first rank of opera producers. Audiences and reviewers come from all across America and from five continents around the globe. This production of Butterfly is right up there with their best.BWW Review: CARMEN: A Triumphant Crown to a Decade of Impressive Opera March 8, 2017