Francesca Zambello is close to the end of her time at Glimmerglass Festival.
“The end of my tenure at The Glimmerglass is bittersweet. I am grateful for all the love that has been showered on me and my family during this season. When I joined The Glimmerglass Festival, my goals were to create a real Festival format and to use the arts as a platform for discussion around social issue,” Ms. Zambello said.
During this season the Festival hosted several world premieres, and all productions featured their now extensive youth ensemble.
“We have expanded our community ties and our ability to bring the arts to more people near and far. I am proud of this Festival; I am proud of the hardworking staff and artists; I am proud of the Festival’s dedicated Board of Trustees; and I am proud of this community. I couldn’t ask for more.”
“The hardest challenge for sure was getting through Covid. It was important to me that the staff was being paid and that all the seasonal workers also received a portion of their salary. I am grateful to everyone and to the trustees who helped make that possible, she said.
“The other very difficult thing was creating Glimmerglass on the grass in 2021. The most important thing to me is live theater and music and so that was why we created Glimmerglass on the grass last summer. We have to get audiences back after Covid. They are still not back in full as much as they were.The two biggest challenges for me were to create “Festival programming” and in parallel to change the mission statement to represent more of our shared philosophy and guide our actions,” she said.
This meant the inclusion of things like many more commissions, youth operas with local youth, producing an annual opera at Attica, partnering with many regional institutions.
“I had a good run of a dozen years; I came here because I wanted to give back to North American artists and apprentices and thought a Festival was the best platform. I am leaving the company in healthy financial and artistic shape. I accomplished my goals of creating a Festival environment and making art work as a bridge to diverse communities and to address complex issues through storytelling and music making” she said.
“When I think of our accomplishments, I think we built a diverse world onstage and offstage. Connected with many communities from children to inmates at Attica. Curated 60 new productions. Built Festival content with concerts, lectures, speakers, authors, jazz, gospel. Got rid of all debt, built the endowment to a record high, funded new buildings, and left the company with a healthy surplus. Kept people paid and produced live theater during COVID.
Expanded young artist program. Funded and developed new apprenticeship program and educational aspects.”
I think the most meaningful has been witnessing how the stories and music moved and changed people. Shows that had a big impact for the audiences and myself included,” she said.
Our commitment to bringing opera to Attica Penitentiary was incredibly moving for all involved.
The challenges were never in the team or the staff, but always financial. Raising money to produce theater and opera is hard. Ticket sales barely cover half our work. This is the biggest challenge.
I want to stress it is all about a team. Our team was a family for all its’ pros and cons!
Bravo Ms. Zambello, thank you for what you’ve done for our community! We wish you the best of luck in the future. .