The Glimmerglass Festival, the Central New York opera and musical theater summer festival, has announced its 2012 season.
The 2012 Festival mainstage productions will include Verdi’s “Aida,” Willson’s “The Music Man,” Lully’s “Armide” and Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson’s “Lost in the Stars.” The productions will run in rotation July 7 through Aug. 27 in the Alice Busch Opera Theater in Cooperstown. The mainstage productions will be supplemented by special performances, concerts and lectures throughout the season. American bass-baritone Eric Owens, who has performed to critical acclaim at Metropolitan, San Francisco and Washington National operas, joins the company as the 2012 Artist in Residence.
“Opera and theater often transport us to a different world and another time, and it is important to me that the 2012 season stretch our boundaries,” Francesca Zambello, Glimmerglass Festival artistic and general director, said in a media release. “Each of our shows will offer not only the Glimmerglass standard of excellence and discovery, but an engaging range of stimulating ideas and new collaborators as well. In2012, Glimmerglass will co-produce with two international companies in productions of operas that address key social and political issues and demonstrate how the performing arts can inform and enlighten, as well as entertain.”
”Aida” will open and close the season in a new production that emphasizes the personal drama at the heart of Verdi’s masterpiece. This will be the first production of “Aida” presented at Glimmerglass.
“Aida is often thought of as a grand opera, a spectacle with elephants and pyramids,” Zambello said in the release. “I have always wanted to present Aida in an intimate setting where we can focus on the tensions of politics between Egypt and Ethiopia through the prism of the love triangle.”
2011 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Winner Michelle Johnson will sing the title role of the captive princess. Eric Owens will perform the role of Amonasro in his role debut.
“This role is something I have been wanting to do for a long time,” Owens said in the release. “Over the last five or six years my voice has settled higher and I want to do more crossover into certain baritone repertoire.”
Daveda Karanas will sing the role of Amneris. Award-winning fashion designer Bibhu Mohapatra will design costumes for the production directed by Francesca Zambello.
Nader Abbassi, artistic director and principal conductor of the Cairo Opera Orchestra, will conduct the piece in his company debut.
“Since I was a child, ‘Aida’ has been my favorite opera, and it was always my dream to conduct this piece,” Abbassi said in the release. “I have had the honor to conduct ‘Aida’ in more than six countries at important festivals – in Asia, Russia, China, Europe and in Africa by the pyramids where I belong. Now I feel the excitement and challenge of being an Egyptian conducting this reat opera at Glimmerglass. I am thrilled, but overall I am proud.”
Robert Wierzel will design lighting. Wierzel has designed more than 35 productions for Glimmerglass and designs this summer’s productions of Carmen and Medea.
Cooperstown native Dwayne Croft will return to Glimmerglass for the role of Harold Hill in “The Music Man,” which follows the 2011 production of “Annie Get Your Gun” in the company’s series of American musicals performed with full orchestra and no amplification. Croft, who has sung more than 25 roles with the Metropolitan Opera, remembers early years at Glimmerglass, where he began as a supernumerary and chorus member while a student at Cooperstown Central School and went on to sing many roles with the company.
“Returning home to Glimmerglass after 22 years fills me with happiness and nostalgia,” Croft said in the release. “It’s where the opera seed was planted in me in 1975, and grew over my 15 years with the company.
Having the opportunity to perform the iconic role of Harold Hill in “The Music Man” is a dream come truethat I look forward to bringing to life.”
In this Tony Award-winning musical, an itinerant con man falls for the local librarian, Marian Paroo, which will be sung by Elizabeth Futral. Futral created the roles of Stella in André Previn’s “A Streetcar Named Desire” and Laura Jesson in Previn’s “Brief Encounter.”
Her extensive discography includes works by Previn, Carlisle Floyd and Ricky Ian Gordon. John DeMain conducted Glimmerglass’s 2002 production of “Little Women” and will return to conduct “The Music Man.”
Marcia Milgrom Dodge, whose Broadway production of “Ragtime” won several Tony Awards, joins Glimmerglass to direct and choreograph the musical. “I am delighted to make my Glimmerglass debut directing and choreographing the classic American musical ‘The Music Man,’” Dodge said. “Meredith Willson’s irresistible score celebrates a lively spirit and immense pride in community— qualities associated with Glimmerglass’s mission.”
Costumes will be designed by Leon Wiebers, who has designed productions for English National Opera, Théâtre du Châtelet, San Francisco Opera and more. James Noone will design sets and lighting design will be by Kevin Adams, The production will run July 14 through Aug. 26.
Glimmerglass has built a reputation for presenting new and innovative productions of early operas, beginning with Monteverdi’s “L’incoronazione di Poppea” in 1994. Since then, the company has presented more than a dozen productions of operas from the 17th and early 18th century, including Monteverdi’s three surviving works and a number of works by Handel, most recently the U.S. professionally staged premiere of “Tolomeo.” In 2012, the company will join with Toronto’s Opera Atelier, renowned for lavishproductions with period ballet, for Lully’s “Armide,” Glimmerglass’s first French baroque opera.
“Today’s battles in society for religious rights echo Lully’s “Armide” and the 11th century conflicts between the Muslims and Christians,” Zambello said. “We will collaborate with Opera Atelier of Canada to present this stimulating work as we explore these themes in a baroque setting.”
Muslim and Christian worlds collide in this opera, where warrior princess Armide is caught between love and vengeance for her sworn enemy, Renaud. The title role will be sung by Peggy Kriha Dye, who recently made her debut with The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and has performed with Washington National Opera and San Francisco Opera. Colin Ainsworth, who performed the role of Jean in Glimmerglass’s production of “Le portrait de Manon” in 2005, will sing the role of Renaud. Opera Atelier Music Director David Fallis will conduct. Canadian dancer Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg will choreograph. Marshall Pynkoski, who serves as Co-Artistic Director of Opera Atelier with Zingg, will direct “Armide.” Pynkoski joins the company this summer for ShowTalk, the company’s series of season-related lectures, on August 13 with a special French baroque program.
The creative team also includes set designer Gerard Gauci, costume designerDora Rust D’Eye and lighting designer Bonnie Beecher. “Armide” will run July 21 through Aug. 23.
Glimmerglass’s first production of a Kurt Weill work, “Lost in the Stars” will be presented in a co-production with Cape Town Opera. The piece is based on “Cry, the Beloved Country,” the classic novel by Alan Paton, and presents the story of South African priest Stephen Kumalo’s spiritual crisis during the time of social unrest that led to apartheid. Eric Owens will sing the role of Stephen Kumalo.
“This is a wonderful gem often overlooked,” Owens said. “Although South Africa is no longer in a period of apartheid, it is still important to honor and understand where the evolution and revolution have come from.”
The production will premiere at Cape Town Opera Nov. 24 through 27, 2011 before traveling to Cooperstown for its run July 22 through Aug. 25, 2012. South African members of the original Cape Town Opera cast will join Glimmerglass in 2012 for the production.
“In Lost in the Stars we are catapulted back into a world dominated by apartheid in South Africa – has it changed now?” Zambello asked. “We are fortunate to work with the Cape Town Opera and the South African singers that will join us, who have a deep personal andhistorical connection with the material. They will join with our great American bass-baritone Eric Owens to explore issues of race – then and now.”
American tenor Sean Panikkar will sing the role of The Leader. Lighting will be designed by Robert Wierzel.
Sets and costumes will be designed by Michael Mitchell, Cape Town Opera resident stage designer whose work has been showcased at Royal Festival Hall, Edinburgh Festival and more. John DeMain will conduct, and Tazewell Thompson will direct.
“Though it is a story of the ages wrestling with issues of biblical dimensions, Lost in the Stars is a simple storyof the human heart – one of heartbreak and intolerance as well as truth, reconciliation, compassion and, finally, moral transformation,” Thompson said in the release.
“It resonates as relevant, vital and revelatory as though snatched from today’s headlines around the world.” In addition to his roles in “Aida” and “Lost in the Stars,” Festival Artist in Residence Eric Owens will perform solo performances throughout the summer and work closely with members of the Young Artists Program, the company’s apprentice program for young singers. Owens first performed at Glimmerglass in 2001 as Collatinus in “The Rape of Lucretia.”
“I have very fond memories of being at Glimmerglass when I was wide-eyed and the yellow brick road was ahead of me,” Owens said in the release. “It will be a special opportunity to return and interact with the Young Artists. It is unique to be able to put into words what you are doing as a performer; this helps you learn more about your own artistry. Sometimes I feel like I learn more than the students!”
The 2012 Festival will run July 7 through Aug. 27. Subscriptions went on sale July 2. For more information on the 2012 Glimmerglass Festival and performance dates and times, call the box office at 547-2255.
The first season under new Artistic & General Director Francesca Zambello, the 2011 Festival features new productions of Bizet’s “Carmen,” Cherubini’s “Medea,” Berlin’s “Annie Get Your Gun” and a double bill of two new operas highlighting American artists.
The double bill features the world-premiere of “A Blizzard On Marblehead Neck,” a Glimmerglass-commissioned work about an episode in playwright Eugene O’Neill’s life by composer Jeanine Tesori and playwright TonyKushner, and the professional premiere of John Musto and Mark Campbell’s acclaimed “Later the Same Evening” based on five Edward Hopper paintings. The four productions run in rotation in the Alice Busch Opera Theater through Aug. 23.
Tickets start at $26 and range to $126. For additional information, call 547-2255 or visit www.glimmerglass.org.