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July 4, 2013

100 years of music will be focus of 2014 season

Staff Report
Cooperstown Crier

---- — The Glimmerglass Festival, Central New York’s opera and musical theater company, has announced its 2014 season.

The 2014 Festival will focus on 100 years of music and includ new productions of Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly,” Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Carousel,” Strauss’ “Ariadne in Naxos”and Tobias Picker’s “An American Tragedy.” The productions run in repertory July 11 through Aug. 24 in the Alice Busch Opera Theater in Cooperstown.

Glimmerglass Festival Artistic and General Director Francesca Zambello said she wants to remind people that the music of the last century is extremely audience friendly and that contemporary music does not have to be intimidating.

“The 2014 productions will show you how quickly we go from Puccini to Picker, all with a sense of character and story, and with inspiring melodies,” she said in a media release.

Soprano Christine Goerke will serve as the company’s 2014 artist in residence. Goerke is known for her many Strauss and Wagner roles, including Elektra, Ariadne, Brünnhilde and Senta. As artist in residence, Goerke will work closely with members of the Glimmerglass Festival Young Artists Program, the company’s apprentice program for emerging artists.

“I was a Young Artist 20 years ago at Glimmerglass, and it was my first apprentice program,” Goerke said in the release. “What this company does for young singers, you can’t begin to know ... This program is so special; this place is so special.”

“Madame Butterfly” (Giacomo Puccini/Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, 1904) will open the season in a new production. According to the release, Puccini’s unforgettable heroine, delicate and vulnerable yet possessed of a steely resolve, risks ostracization to be with Pinkerton, a handsome American naval officer. When he proves untrue, she unflinchingly chooses the only honorable path available to her.

“Puccini is the ultimate 20th-century melodist, and the chance to see his heartbreaking work with young singers in our intimate theater is a remarkable experience,” said Zambello, who will direct the production. “The story of a young mother who hopes to find a better life for herself and her son in America is still relevant today, as we continue to wrestle with issues around immigration.”

Joseph Colaneri will conduct. Colaneri is conducting the Glimmerglass production of Verdi’s “King for a Day.”  

“Madame Butterfly is one of my favorite Puccini scores,” Colaneri said in the release. “The relationship of the drama, text and music is just about perfect. The opera has a magically atmospheric orchestration and Puccini’s sense of dramatic pace allows the story to sweep from its exotic opening to a shattering conclusion.”

Scenery will be designed by Tony Award-winner Michael Yeargan, whose designs have been seen on Broadway as well as at the Metropolitan, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco operas. His last Glimmerglass production was the world premiere of “Central Park” in 1999. Robert Wierzel, who has designed more than 35 Glimmerglass productions, including the 1997 production of “Madame Butterfly,” will design lighting. Cio-Cio San will be sung by Yunah Lee. Lee has been praised for her portrayal of Cio-Cio San, seen in the role recently at Dallas, Central City and New York City operas. Former Glimmerglass Young Artist Aleksey Bogdanov will return for the role of Sharpless.

In line with Zambello’s desire to include a great American musical each season, Glimmerglass will present a new production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Carousel,” with full orchestra and no amplification.

Pegged as the “best musical of the 20th century” by Time magazine, “Carousel” tells the story of a carousel barker’s struggles to rise above challenging circumstances. The musical includes such favorites as “If I Loved You,” “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

Doug Peck will conduct, and Charles Newell will direct. The pair is known for their work at Chicago’s Court Theatre, which includes productions of “Porgy and Bess;” “Caroline, or Change” and “Carousel,” all of which won Joseph Jefferson Awards. The production will be choreographed by Daniel Pelzig, whose career highlights include a Boston Ballet production of “The Nutcracker,” a Metropolitan Opera production of “Armida” and the Hollywood Bowl’s “Carousel.”

Glimmerglass will welcome back costume designer Jessica Jahn, who worked on the company’s 2009 production of “La Cenerentola.” Mark McCullough will design lighting; he made his company debut in 1995 and has designed more than 10 Glimmerglass productions, as well as many productions for opera and theater companies around the world.

“Ariadne in Naxos” was last performed at Glimmerglass in 1994. This opera within an opera features both lighthearted comedy and heroic grand opera, as two different performing troupes compete for the attention of a wealthy patron.

The opera will be conducted by Kathleen Kelly, who worked with the company’s Young Artists Program in 2001. Former Head of Music Staff at Vienna State and Houston Grand operas, Kelly has served as assistant conductor at Metropolitan, San Francisco and Seattle operas. Zambello will direct. Troy Hourie will design sets for the production. Award-winning fashion designer Bibhu Mohapatra, whose designs were seen in Glimmerglass’ 2012 production of “Aida,” will return to design costumes. Mohapatra’s designs have been worn by Michelle Obama, Gwyneth Paltrow and Glenn Close, to name a few. Mark McCullough will design lighting.

2014 Artist in Residence Christine Goerke will sing the role of the grieving Ariadne, and Rachele Gilmore will sing the role of the charming and intriguing Zerbinetta. A former Glimmerglass Young Artist, Gilmore made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 2009 as Olympia in “The Tales of Hoffmann,” went on to her La Scala debut in the same role, and has performed with Portland Opera, Florida Grand Opera and Opera Philadelphia, among others. The trouser role of the idealist Composer will be sung by 2012 Young Artist Catherine Martin, who has performed with Houston Grand Opera, Wolf Trap Opera Company and more. Corey Bix, another former Glimmerglass Young Artist, returns for the role of Bacchus, Ariadne’s love interest. Bix recently performed the role of Erik in Los Angeles Opera’s “The Flying Dutchman.”

The prologue will be sung in a modern adaptation by Kelley Rourke, while the opera within the opera will be performed in the original German.

Based on the Theodore Dreiser novel inspired by a true story, Tobias Picker’s “An American Tragedy” tells the story of a small-town boy’s pursuit of the American dream. Blinded by ambition, the promising young man, Clyde Griffiths, makes a series of unfortunate choices that culminate in a death in the Adirondacks.

“Theodore Dreiser’s novel ‘An American Tragedy,’” Picker wrote, “is a powerful portrayal of the dark side of the American dream. It was my father’s favorite book. I remember him being profoundly moved by the conflict between ambition and morality depicted in the novel, a conflict that remains one of the central challenges at the core of the American experience. When the opportunity arose to write an opera for the Metropolitan Opera I immediately knew that Drieser’s book had to be my subject. I am thrilled that The Glimmerglass Festival has brought together such a wonderful production team and I look forward to working with them to bring a newly revised version of ‘An American Tragedy’ to the stage.”

“An American Tragedy,” Picker’s fourth opera, premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in 2005 to great acclaim. The Glimmerglass production celebrates the composer’s 60th birthday and marks the premiere of the newly revised version by the composer and librettist.

Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times wrote, “The opera is accomplished, dramatically effective and thoroughly professional. Many composers ... could learn from Mr. Picker’s know-how about the theater.”

The new Glimmerglass production will be conducted by George Manahan, a leading advocate of Picker’s music, who conducted the world premiere of Picker’s first opera “Emmeline” at Santa Fe Opera in 1996, as well as “Emmeline’s” New York premiere at New York City Opera in 1998. Manahan will conduct the world premiere of Picker’s fifth opera, “Dolores Claiborne,” at San Francisco Opera in Sept.2013. Manahan served as music director for New York City Opera for more than a decade, and currently serves as music director of the American Composers Orchestra and Portland Opera. A versatile conductor, Manahan has conducted a wide range of operas, including Edward Thomas’ “Desire Under the Elms,” which received a Grammy Award nomination.

The production will be directed by Kate Whoriskey. Whoriskey directed the Broadway revival of “The Miracle Worker,” and her many off-Broadway credits include “How I Learned to Drive,” “The Piano Teacher” and “Ruined,”for which she won a Drama Desk Award.

“As a fan of the Dreiser novel, I am thrilled to be working with one of America’s great composers, Tobias Picker,” Whoriskey said in the release. “Tobias has taken this complex portrait of American life and translated it into a vivid and extraordinary musical event. I am excited by the opportunity to stage such a rich, expansive piece.”

Alexander Dodge, who received a 2012 Tony Award nomination for his designs for “Present Laughter,” will design sets. Robert Wierzel will design lighting. The role of Clyde Griffith’s mother, Elvira Griffiths, will be sung by award-winning soprano June Anderson. The role of the upstate New York factory owner will be sung by Aleksey Bogdanov. Recent roles for Bogdanov include Escamillo in “Carmen” at Atlanta Opera and Masetto in “Don Giovanni” at Washington National Opera.

The mainstage productions will be complemented by special concerts, lectures, backstage tours and question-and-answer sessions with the creative teams. More information on these events will be released next year.

For more information on the 2014 Glimmerglass Festival and performance dates and times, call the Box Office at 547-2255 or visit www.glimmerglass.org. 

The company’s 2013 summer season runs July 6 through Aug. 24 with new productions of Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman;” Lerner and Loewe’s “Camelot;” Verdi’s “King for a Day” and “Passions,” a double bill of David Lang’s “the little match girl passion” and Pergolesi’s “Stabat Mater. “