This week, artists for La Traviata and La Cenerentola arrived in Cooperstown and began rehearsals. Although preparations for the 2009 Festival began over a year ago, the first day of rehearsal feels like the real beginning for many of us. It is a time to welcome returning friends, from those who made their debut only last season to those who have a long history with the company. La Cenerentola is the fifth Glimmerglass production for tenor John Tessier; he will be joined by Eduardo Chama, who last appeared with Tessier at Glimmerglass in The Barber of Seville (2006). Ryan MacPherson, last summer’s Luzio, plays Alfredo Germont in La Traviata. Malcolm MacKenzie, who made his debut as a member of the Young American Artists Program in 1994, returns to play the elder Germont.

The season brings plenty of fresh faces, too, including Mary Dunleavy. Violetta, the heroine of La Traviata, is a signature role for the American soprano. Although she has sung the role on major stages around the world, she feels each new production offers fresh insights: “When you know a role very well, you can start to get attached to certain ideas about who a character is, how she would act. The first day of rehearsals I have to remind myself to stay open to new ideas, to allow myself the possibility to look at something from a different angle. I used to get a little defensive, thinking I knew her better than my colleagues did, but I learned I didn’t always. You have to be able to look at things from a different perspective. I’m definitely excited to be working with Jonathan Miller. I’m pretty sure he’s going to change something about how I think about the piece. I look forward to that, especially with an opera I know so well.”

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