Editor’s Note: Glimmerglass Opera Artistic Director Emeritus Paul Kellogg died April 28, 2021, at age 84. As a tribute, his friend, our editorial board member, Lin Vincent wrote about what he meant to arts in the region, and to what is now known as The Glimmerglass Festival in Springfield Center
By Lin Vincent
Soon after Paul Kellogg and his partner, Raymond Han, moved into a potentially elegant 19th-century stone house in Pierstown, with sweeping views across the upstate hills to Cherry Valley and on beyond to the Adirondacks, and a Christmas tree farm to boot, we met.
They had discovered Cooperstown earlier, having visited their friends Sam and Hilda Wilcox, whom Paul had met in Austin, Texas, in the 1950s, Now, in 1975, they had decided upon a quieter life, away from New York City, in which to hone their skills with paint, pen and peonies. We were immediate fast friends.
Right away both Paul and Raymond became involved with the fledgling Glimmerglass Opera, which had opened its doors that same year, with four performances of La Bohème. After a few seasons where both volunteered behind the scenes, Paul became, in 1979, the executive manager, not so much because he had had any experience in this sort of position, but more probably because he had a profoundly confident vision of what such a company in such a village could become, and the requisite courage to take the necessary risks to make it happen.
As such, he took Glimmerglass from its meager birthplace in the high school auditorium (seating 400; no orchestra pit; no dressing rooms; terrible acoustics) to its present space (914 seats; ample dressing rooms; state-of-the-art acoustics and a sublime orchestra pit; no air conditioning), the acquisition, design and construction of which he carefully orchestrated. And then, that exhausting, albeit rewarding, phase behind him, without missing a beat, he brought Glimmerglass to national — and international — recognition, playing his part as general and artistic director, gathering enthusiastic supporters, raising buckets of money, tolerating critics with a smile, introducing new and rarely seen works, unique set designs and beautiful young voices, until the late 1990s, when he accepted the call to New York City Opera.
Paul went back to New York to manage, with his usual and now perfected aplomb, a fiery, fierce, creative company that did not always do his bidding. But he never truly left his house and friends in Cooperstown, nor did he ever leave Glimmerglass, remaining in an advisory position until his retirement in 2006.
At his instigation (most certainly not mine — I had told him I just wanted to raise horses), I worked for, and with, Paul at Glimmerglass for more than a decade.
We travelled together. To St. Louis to negotiate the many intricacies of the shared production of The Midnight Angel; to Miami for an OPERA America meeting; to Martha’s Vineyard to bring home a multitude of shells from the long sandy beaches, and to relax with friends, eating their memorable meals, drinking their wine, sharing spirited conversations about every idea in the universe — and always drowning in laughter.
It was seriously great fun, outrageously challenging, exceptionally joyful, at times tearful, always exciting and deeply rewarding. And through it all our strong friendship, quite miraculously, was never in doubt.
Paul Kellogg was both an exceptional boss and an extraordinary friend; he remains with me, tight by my side.