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June 19, 2014

Opera design to be a tribute to upstate New York

The design for this year’s Glimmerglass Festival production of "Ariadne in Naxos" takes its inspiration not from modern Paris, postwar Tokyo or ancient Rome, but from a source far closer to home: present day upstate New York.

“It’s really a valentine for the Glimmerglass Crowd,” said Erik Teague, the costume designer for “Ariadne in Naxos.”

Teague and “Ariadne in Naxos,” set designer Troy Hourie will be presenting a free program on the show’s design today, “Ariadne in Naxos: Unplugged,” at Woodside Hall.

“It’ll be a very informal chat with the audience,” said Hourie.

Ariadne in Naxos is an opera by Richard Strauss that tells the story of two opera companies, one comedic and one dramatic, who are forced to work together after a patron schedules both of their shows at the same time. While the original production was set in Vienna at the estate of a duke, the new production is set on a farm in upstate New York. This production will run in repertory from July 19 to Aug. 23.

Teague and Hourie credit the idea for setting the production in upstate New York with Glimmerglass Festival Artistic and General Director Francesca Zambello. However, both Teague and Hourie talked about how the concept evolved based off their input, and their interactions with each other.

“Every time we meet we sort of come up with new ideas,” said Hourie.

“Collaboration is really the name of the game here,” said Teague.

In the new production, all the action takes place in an upstate New York Barn. The barn has a big map of upstate New York painted on its doors, which open up to reveal the rest of the set, which includes features like animal stalls being used as dressing rooms for the performers.

The troupes themselves have also been updated, with the dramatic troupe being portrayed as posh prima donnas in designer clothes, and the comedic troupe being portrayed as rag-tag punks.

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