Paul Bunyan. Photo by George Mott.
Paul Bunyan. Photo by George Mott.
Once in a while the odd thing happens.
Once in a while the dream comes true
and the whole pattern of life is altered.
Once in a while the moon turns blue.

 ....and once in a while the sky turns green. One Friday evening in 1995, a summer storm turned the sky over Otsego County the color of leftover guacamole before wreaking havoc on the landscape.

The next day, despite widespread power outages, opera staff reported for work to find the 12’ X 24’ door ripped from our scene shop. While some worked to clean up the grounds, emergency lighting inside the theater provided adequate illumination for a daytime dress rehearsal of Tamerlano. Ever hopeful that power would be restored in time for what was to be opening night of Paul Bunyan, crews proceeded to change over the set; they focused lights by plugging them in to the generator, one by one.

Glimmerglass audiences, as optimistic as cast and crew, made the trip to campus that evening, even though power had yet to be restored. The wine flowed as Lauren Flanigan and Music Director Stewart Robertson entertained the masses with cabaret songs. Ultimately, “opening night” had to be postponed until 10:30 the next morning; it was followed by the scheduled Sunday matinee of Don Giovanni.

That was the day we learned we could pull off two different public performances in a single day. And so, from 1996 forward, we scheduled two shows on Saturdays, making it possible for patrons to take in four shows in a single weekend.

The 1990s were a time of tremendous growth for Glimmerglass. I arrived in 1994 as a result of perhaps the most important operatic innovation of the twentieth century: supertitles. Glimmerglass had begun projecting English translations of its operas in 1992, and an intern with keen music-reading skills was needed to cue hundreds of titles each night. I was a piano major, so I got the job…and never left.

1995 was our ninth season in the Alice Busch Opera Theater, and the first season for us to employ a dedicated “stage operations” crew for increasingly complicated changeovers between performances. Our administrative offices were still down the street; a tent stood in place of the Thaw Pavilion; the ladies’ public restroom was about half its current size…. I could go on….

Much has changed, but the important things have not. The commitment, creativity and camraderie that allowed the 1995 company to follow a morning opening of Paul Bunyan with a matinee of Don Giovanni—not to mention an evening sitzprobe of Tamerlano—is still very much in evidence today.

Why else would I keep coming back?

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