Monday, February 21, 2011

E 'strano

Winter Opera Accordionist
There are three times in Giuseppe Verdi's masterpiece, La Traviata, when Violetta, the title character, sings out e 'strano! - it is strange. Strange that she experiences feelings of genuine love in a life that has been dedicated to pleasure and independence; strange that the object of her love has left their home on a mysterious errand; and, strangest of all, that she is about to die of consumption. It was also quite strange - but very pleasant - to hear this in the halls of upper crust St. Louis society.

This city is a terrific place to experience affordable, intimate opera. There is our renowned company, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, that plays a four production season in repertory during May and June. Through the rest of the summer, Union Avenue Opera performs in a beautiful church whose congregation makes the auditorium/sanctuary available for music and art. There wasn't anything in the cold months until a few years ago, when little Winter Opera was formed.

They play where someone with adaptable space will take them in. Last weekend's performances of La Traviata took place in the ballroom of the St. Louis Woman's Club. (Woman's, not Women's. There are men's clubs but are there man's clubs?) I'd never heard of it. Well, it's located in a sumptuous mansion on Lindell Boulevard in the Central West End. No signage out front. Within, the grandiloquence of old money, style and power. It was a brilliant setting for this work. I took some iPhone snaps: above, an accordionist plays Di Provenza during intermission. Below, curtain calls, and a young usher checking his messages in a stairwell under a painting of a peasant woman, a demographic underrepresented in the club membership rolls.

Mart Building, Wrapped Rumor has it that Christo has attacked St. Louis. Details on Downtown St. Louis 365.

Winter Opera Curtain Call

Stairwell, St. Louis Woman's Club


brattcat said...

i love the top and bottom images, bob! said...

You have been out to some interesting events lately. The demographics of the audience for opera, about which you commented, is paralleled in the demographics of accordion players. The number of people who learned how to play the accordion is the 1950's is staggering by today's standards.

I love you courthouse series.

Virginia said...

I have a waiter in Paris doing the same thing but he had a cig hanging out his mouth. I love your portraits.

cieldequimper said...

... in questo popoloso deserto che appellano Parigi... Gioir...

Sorry for any spelling mistakes, my Italian is rusty.

KC Photog Blog said...

I love this shot. I can't tell if he's imitating her or she him, however. Nice catch.