The Glimmerglass Festival is releasing ‘The Knock’, a 50 minute opera as a film for free on its website on Veteran’s Day, Thursday, November 11.
‘The Knock’, composed by Aleksandra Vrebalov, was originally slated for a 2020 stage production, but after the pandemic hit, they decided to create the work as a film. The one-act opera is about the wives of military men waiting for news of their husbands.
The libretto, created by Deborah Brevoort, is based on interviews of soldiers’ spouses.
I’ve been visiting your area and going to the opera for more than 20 years. This year it was Friday, Aug. 12, and we were leaving from Rochester and anticipating Mozart’s “Magic Flute” at The Glimmerglass Festival.
I rejoiced that I had remembered to look on the back of my calendar for the envelope holding the tickets I had ordered about a month before. WHAT A SHOCK! No such luck … the envelope was empty, and I was full of dread! All I could think of was having to climb back into the car and start back on Route 28 toward home.
The Cooperstown Concert Series was awarded $10,000 through a state grant to support live music or theater performances. Other groups that got $10,000 include the Glimmerglass Festival, Chenango River Theatre, Franklin Stage Company and the Catskill Symphony Orchestra.
CAA invites artists to submit for ‘Fine Arts on the Lawn’
Artists are invited to participate in the Cooperstown Art Associations’ Fine Arts on the Lawn event Labor Day weekend in Cooperstown. Artists are allowed to display up to five works or apply for and maintain a 10′ x 10′ tent. Go to www.cooperstownart.com for more information.
One writer of praise for Verdi’s “Trovatore” observed, totally without irony: “When the soprano part is sung as Madam X sings it, one cannot survive without tears.”
As for the composer himself: “He made a nest for singers in his music like the mother-bird warming
her young.” Such comments have as much relation to events as political promises for “a new life” — which turn with experience to be even less exciting than a “new laundry powder.” However, humans are
susceptible to such notions — like the “word itself, “the “poem itself,” even the “opera itself” — all without context. Such theories limit experience and blunt contacts with other lives in the human family.(As for that “mother-bird,” Verdi bitterly complained about inadequate singers,
conductors, and impresarios.)
This composer entered profound depression after the death of both children and his wife. The libretto of Nabucco pulled him from the depths.
A reader of the bible and of Shakespeare, he responded to admired language in the libretto Verdi then describes writing one note at a time, then phrase by phrase, “little by little the opera was written.” At a rehearsal, a chorus so pleased the carpenters that they beat on the woodwork with their tools and cried, “Bravo, bravo, vive il maestro.”
Wagner’s “Cycle,” better reduced to another form? It is already a “ring.” A controversy of taste since its origins, the whole lasts many hours. The critic Irving Kolodin proposed a shortened version; the Glimmer-form trims even more. Is this an improvement? What might bother even informed listeners is the pomposity of Wagner’s own text, an extensive mythological soap opera. The composer’s place in musical history is found in reactions to what one biographer in 800 pages called “Wagner’s Mind.” French culture, with its clarity and discipline, was never to his taste. He even prohibited the speaking of French in his own household.
However, French compositions are therapeutic for the pretended grandiosity of this composer. Debussy included a “Tristan chord” in a satiric piano solo with direction that it was to be played “with great feeling.” The composer Eric Satie had great fun with mythological and self-important pretenses. Answering complaints about his lack of musical form, he composed pieces in “the shape of a pear.” He called some of his other works “wall paper music.”
Brahms, however, was a quietly persistent critic. A score by Wagner was on his Streicher grand. A visitor noted the text was upside down. Brahms righted it: “Now it makes no sense at all,” he said.
Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” was intended as a light entertainment, commissioned by his Masonic friend and theater owner Schikaneder. Is the mythology of the libretto serious? The conductor Bruno Walter thought so, but the light of heart should think otherwise. A baritone roughly imitating a bird song? A Queen of the Night reaching the heavens with her high notes?
The work passes into its own immortality, just as Mozart and other composers of this Glimmerglass season still live through their art.
The Glimmerglass Festival, home to the summer opera and other theater, will open Thursday, July 15 with “The Magic Flute” by Mozart.
The festival will have outdoor performances on a specially built stage, in order to accommodate
Francesca Zambello, Festival artistic and general director said in a me
dia release that the theater “reimagined” the Glimmerglass experience in order to safely showcase their works.
“While this move outdoors is primarily for the health and safety of our company members, audience members and community, it is in harmony with what people love about Glimmerglass — innovative art and performances in a beautiful location,” Zambello said. “We are extremely grateful to Andrew
Martin-Weber for making this outdoor stage possible, and we look forward to bringing amazing performances to you from the Andrew J. Martin-Weber Lawn Stage.”
The outdoor stage will be at the south part of the Glimmerglass’s Springfield Center campus, with socially distanced festival squares for spaced-out seating. Attendees are encouraged to bring blankets and lawn chairs with low profiles, so the performances can be enjoyed comfortably.
“The Magic Flute” is described by the press release as a “whimsical tale of love and wisdom with an original libretto from Emanuel Schikaneder.” It is directed by N.J. Agwuna and conducted Joseph Colaneri, with costumes by Christelle Matou.
“Il Trovatore” an epic love story which is co-directed by Zambello and Eric Sean Fogel with music
conducted by Joseph Colaneri, will open Sunday, Aug. 1.
“Songbird,” adapted from “La Perichole,” will have its first performance Friday, July 30.
“To the World” opens Friday, July 16. The show is a journey around the globe through popular musical theater hits. It stars Isabel Leonard,
William Burden, Alexandria Shiner, Michael Mayes and members of the Young Artists Program.
Eric Sean Fogel directs and James Lowe conducts.
“Gods and Mortals,” which opens Tuesday, Aug. 3, celebrates the work of Richard Wagner with
selections from some of his most popular operas, including “The Ring Cycle” and “Tannhäuser,” as well as some of his lesser known works, including “Die Feen.”
“At a time when the world can feel strikingly small — confined to a bedroom and a laptop — Wagner’s grand works remind us of feeling larger than life. His fascination with mythology and the natural world will propel us as we take the festival outdoors,” Zambello said in the media release.
The staged concert will star Eric Owens, Alexandria Shiner and Ian Koziara. “Gods
and Mortals” is conducted by Joseph Colaneri and directed by Zambello.
The season will also include “The Passion of Mary Cardwell Dawson,” a new play with music celebrating the founder of the historic and groundbreaking National Negro Opera Company and starring acclaimed mezzo soprano Denyce Graves in the title role.
Written by the Mark Twain Award-winning playwright and librettist, Sandra Seaton, the play includes selections from the repertory of the National Negro Opera Company and original music composed by Carlos Simon.
“Madame Dawson was an arts pioneer, a woman of many firsts, whose remarkable story had been all but forgotten until recently,” Graves said in the media release. “Mary Cardwell Dawson broke through incredible barriers to give voice to singers of color, creating opportunities that eventually brought them to major American opera house stages for the first time. It is an honor to champion her story — and that of the National Negro Opera Company she founded in 1941.”
Go to Glimmerglass.org for more information and to purchase tickets.
The village of Cooperstown will remove a controversial solar-powered speed limit sign from Pioneer Street.
The village’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously Monday, April 26, to remove the sign, which was in front of 100 Pioneer Street and told motorists heading south on Pioneer if they were exceeding the village’s 30-mile-per-hour speed limit.
The meeting was held in person in the village ballroom at 22 Main St.
As part of the motion, the trustees agreed to relocate the sign to the southern entryway to the village on State Route 28.
The sign has drawn complaints from dozens of current and former village residents, complaining about the aesthetics of the sign and dismissing the need to put it in a residential area. Two residents spoke against the sign Monday, leading Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh to tell the crowd of about 15 people that the trustees would fix the sign problem later in the meeting.
“The intent of the meeting tonight will be to remove the solar-powered sign … and nothing will be on Pioneer.
Opera will be back on Otsego Lake’s shores this summer.
The Glimmerglass Festival announced today it will build an outdoor stage on the festival grounds, where it will present four operas.
The 2021 season will run July 15 through Aug. 17 with performances of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” Verdi’s “Il Trovatore,” Offenbach’s “Songbird” (La Périchole), and the world premiere of “The Passion of Mary Cardwell Dawson,” a new play with music about the founder of the National Negro Opera Company.
“We have re-imagined the Glimmerglass experience for the 2021 season,” said Francesca Zambello, Festival artistic & general director. “While this move outdoors is primarily for the health and safety of our company members, audience members and community, it is in harmony with what people love about Glimmerglass – innovative art and performances in a beautiful location.”
COOPERSTOWN REFLECTS – 7 p.m. Library Anti-Racism series continues with “Cooperstown Reflects on Racism in Arts and Monuments.” Panel includes Eva Fognell, Thaw Collection of Native American Art, Fenimore Museum; Tom Heitz/Sharon Stuart, Otsego town co-historian; CGP Director Gretchen Sorin, and Glimmerglass Festival Art & General Director Francesca Zambello. Free, registration required. Presented by Friends of the Village Library of Cooperstown. 607-547-8344 or visit www.eventbrite.com/o/friends-of-the-village-library-23034666815
COOPERSTOWN – One summer, while visiting Cooperstown, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader
Ginsberg had a request for her friend, Kay Pierro.
“She wanted to go waterskiing!” Pierro said.
“So I asked around for a friend who had a boat to take her on, but (federal marshals) needed to follow in a second boat, so I had to ask around for another.
“She tried so hard to get up, but the skis we had were too long for her.”
Ginsburg, 87, who has starred in an “Opera & Law” presentation every summer since 2013 (except this one) at the Glimmerglass Festival, died Friday, Sept 18, from pancreatic cancer.
Pierro first met Ginsburg when Jane Forbes Clark hired her to cook for the justice and her husband, Marty, who were staying in Miss Clark’s guest house for the weekend in 2004.
“My husband always called it ‘the improbable friendship,’” Pierro said. “She was a Supreme Court justice and I was just a cook, but she was the kindest, warmest, most gentle person I have ever known.”
They stayed in contact for years, and Ginsburg frequently invited her to events, including to the Supreme Court itself and to the unveiling of her portrait at the New England School of Law in Boston. “My son graduated from there, and when she found out, she invited us both to the ceremony,” said Pierro. “She would bring me gifts back from Europe, and we would write to each other.”
Glimmerglass’ music & general director, Francesca Zambello, had struck up a friendship with Ginsburg after she directed Beethoven’s “Fidelio” at the National Opera House in 2003.
“She wrote me a letter and said it was her favorite production of ‘Fidelio’ that she had ever seen,” Zambello said.
“I saw her at the Washington National Opera right before the pandemic,” she continued. “And she had her tickets reserved for this year’s Glimmerglass Festival. We’re all mourning her passing.”
When Zambello became head of the Festival in 2010, she invited Ginsburg and her family to attend the shows. “She had visited when Paul Kellogg was director, but we began talking about doing a program about opera and the law, since so many of them involve contracts and wrong-doing,” she said.
“And I thought, how wonderful it would be if I could engage her in our love of opera together in a way the public could appreciate.”
The program started in 2013 and was a sell-out every summer. “It was one of our most successful programs,” she said.
In 2017, the Festival produced “Scalia/Ginsburg,”
a comic opera about the friendship between Ginsburg and fellow Justice Antonin Scalia.
“After one performance, she came and spoke about him, which was great,” said Zambello. “He never visited Glimmerglass, but I would see him at the National Opera, and they would sit on opposite sides of the aisle. They disagreed all day, but at night they would share this passion for opera.”
Following the news of her death, a vigil was held on the steps of the Otsego County Courthouse, where Village Trustee Richard Sternberg and Dave Pearlman, retired CCS high school principal, led the gathering in Kaddish, the traditional Jewish prayer of mourning.
“People were very moved,” said Sternberg.
Sternberg had met Ginsburg several times; his cousin was a protégée and student of her husband, Marty Ginsburg, at Columbia Law School. “When my nephew was born, I found myself standing next to a short, very slight lady at his bris,” Sternberg said. “She was introduced to me as Judge Ginsburg, but I didn’t think much of it.”
He saw her at several other events, including his nephew’s Bar Mitzvah. “She was a Supreme Court justice then, and I made the connection,” he said. “I didn’t say much, which was unusual for me.”
At his niece’s Bat Mitzvah, he overheard another woman ask about the famous lace on her collar. “She told the story that she and Sandra Day O’Connor thought that since Judge (William) Rehnquist put gold stripes on his robes, that they would put lace on theirs as a response,” he said.
Though he often saw Ginsburg at the Festival, he declined to introduce himself again. “I was intimidated, plus she had bodyguards,” he said.
Zambello said the Festival is beginning to look at ways to honor her legacy during next year’s season.
“She loved the Festival and was very proud of what we were doing with social justice,” she said. “But she also loved a good ‘La Boheme.’ She really was our greatest spokesperson.”
“We had a wonderful relationship,” said Pierro. “She was a real treasure.”
As many people may know, the Young Artist Program at the Glimmerglass Festival is an integral part of our work. One of our recent alumni, Alexandria Shiner (last seen as Bertha in the Barber of Seville 2018), went on to become part of the Cafritz Young Artist Program at the Washington National Opera and to win the first prize of the Met auditions.
A few weeks before COVID closed everything, Ali took the lead role in a version of Gian Carlo Menotti’s “The Consul” in the Supreme Court’s private chambers. The opportunity came about because Justice Ginsburg held occasional musicales at the Court, carrying on a tradition started by Sandra Day O’Connor.
Rob Ainsley, the director of the Cafritz Young Artist Program, and I wanted to do something different than just a concert. We asked Justice Ginsburg if we could present a one-hour version of “The Consul,” an opera that deals with immigration issues not unlike those currently being hotly debated.
We had already presented the opera in various locations as a kind of outreach work, but all these were previews leading up to what we felt would be our most important showing of the piece.
We arrived in the morning to rehearse in the chambers like a funny band of traveling players carrying our costumes and props into the Supreme Court.
How strange – and how moving – to be telling this story of political dissidents, government overstep and visa frustrations before an audience of men and women who had sworn to uphold our country’s ideals.
RBG always loved meeting the new young artists and this was a special year. I still remember Ali, as Magda, staring into the eyes of one justice after another as she sang these words:
To this we’ve come: that men withhold the world from men. No ship nor shore for him who drowns at sea. No home nor grave for him who dies on land.
To this we’ve come: that man be born a stranger upon God’s earth, that he be chosen without a chance for choice, that he be hunted without the hope of refuge.
To this we’ve come. (To the Secretary) And you, you too shall weep! If to men, not to God, we now must pray, tell me, Secretary, tell me, who are these men? If to them, not to God, we now must pray…
Who are these dark archangels? Will they be conquered? Will they be doomed? Is there one, anyone behind those doors to whom the heart can still be explained? Is there one, anyone, who still may care? Tell me, Secretary, tell me!
As she threw the papers in the air screaming “Papers, Papers,” the room felt electric. I shall never forget this, nor will anyone there.
RBG, with a wink, told me how she loved the simple and direct performance of “The Consul” so close to the halls of justice. I am grateful for all she gave to our Festival over the past decade.
GLIMPSE – 5:30 p.m. Enjoy first look at ‘From The Diary of Sally Hemmings’ a dramatic song cycle that imagines the experience of Sally Hemmings, who was the slave of Thomas Jefferson, as told through fictional diary entries. Presented by Glimmerglass Festival. Visit glimmerglass.org/events/glimpse-from-the-diary-of-sally-hemings/ for info.
COVID-19 TESTING – 9 a.m. – Noon. Healthy individuals are invited to drive-thru testing for Covid-19, free to Otsego County residents courtesy of the Otsego County Department of Health. Registration required. Greenie’s, 2591 St. Hwy. 7, Otego. 607-547-4279.
ESCAPE GAME – 7 – 8 p.m. Join resident Game Master and your friends for fun quest to escape imaginary Witches Hut. Solve puzzles to escape, cure the poison mushrooms you and your party have consumed. Available to 4 County Library System Users only. Presented by Huntington Memorial Library. Visit www.facebook.com/hmloneonta/