Preview of the 2014 Glimmerglass Festival Season
A sensational local crime of passion will be re-enacted this summer on the stage of the Alice Busch Opera Theater at the Glimmerglass Festival outside Cooperstown, New York.
As one of its four summer productions, Glimmerglass is offering An American Tragedy by composer Tobias Picker and librettist Gene Scheer. The opera is based on the classic 1925 Theodore Dreiser novel of the same name. Dreiser was inspired by a real-life crime of passion—the murder of a pregnant woman by her lover on Big Moose Lake in the Adirondacks in 1906.
What better setting for this opera could there be than Cooperstown? It’s close to many of the upstate New York towns mentioned in Dreiser’s novel. The local setting gives director Peter Kazaras and set designer Alexander Dodge many delicious options for bringing the local crime to life.
Picker was commissioned by New York City’s Metropolitan Opera to write the work. It premiered in 2005 to solid reviews. The Met gave it a riveting production with a particularly graphic murder scene on the lake.
Picker’s musical style is tonal, accessible, lyrical and sensitive to the drama. An American Tragedy could be the must-see production of the season.
Francesca Zambello, the Artistic and General Director of the Festival, has put Glimmerglass on the summer opera map. Along with Santa Fe and St. Louis, it has become an important stop on the summer opera circuit.
Zambello has added many events to supplement the four operas. These include recitals by young artists; master classes; lectures; and even an appearance by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who discusses opera and the law.
Zambello offers one classic American musical each summer. This year it’s Carousel by Rogers and Hammerstein, a huge hit in 1945 with such standards as “June is Bustin’ Out All Over,” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
The other popular offering is Puccini’s three handkerchief tear-jerker Madama Butterfly. It’s the story of a young Japanese woman who violates cultural norms to marry acaddish American Navy officer who quickly abandons her and their child, to tragic effect.
Lovers of German opera will be treated to Richard Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos. The role of Ariadne is being sung by soprano Christine Goerke. She is a major international artist and the designated Brunnhilde at the Met in future Wagner Ring cycles. To hear Ms. Goerke in a house with only 900 seats should be quite an aural experience.
The Glimmerglass season runs from July 11 through August 24. The season calendar and other information are available here: http://glimmerglass.org/festival/2014-productions/ .