Festival Guests to include William Burden, Theodore Chapin,
Paige Hernandez, Stephen Schwartz, David Sedaris and more
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (July 7, 2016) – The Glimmerglass Festival, which presents four mainstage productions of opera and musical theater as well as many events every summer, has released the details of its 2017 schedule.
The 2017 Festival will include mainstage productions of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!, Handel’s Xerxes and Donizetti’s The Siege of Calais. The season also includes the world premiere of Stomping Grounds, a piece from Victor Simonson and Paige Hernandez that blends hip-hop, spoken word and opera, and Derrick Wang’s opera Scalia/Ginsburg, starring 2017 Artist in Residence William Burden.
From Charleston’s Catfish Row to the Oklahoma Territory, from the besieged port of Calais to the First Persian Empire, the 2017 Glimmerglass Festival examines how history, geography and relationships come together to form the concept of home.
“This idea of home is extremely topical,” Artistic & General Director Francesca Zambello said. “As we watch the world and these issues of displacement, the notion of home takes on a much bigger weight. I want the Festival to promote discussion about these important social issues, and each of our offerings can do just that. The productions will be beautiful, moving and inspiring, but the season also offers a starting point for a much bigger conversation about identity and homeland.”
Additional performances in 2017 will include Comin’ for to Carry Me Home, a gospel brunch featuring Festival artists on August 6, as well as an appearance on August 21 by author and humorist David Sedaris. Three-time Academy Award winning composer Stephen Schwartz, known for his Broadway hits Wicked and Pippin, will join the company for an event on the mainstage, and Theodore Chapin, President and Executive Director of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, is one of several experts who will be engaged for the company’s popular ShowTalk series.
In addition to starring as Scalia in Scalia/Ginsburg, Artist in Residence William Burden will present a concert on July 15 with members of the company’s Young Artists Program, an acclaimed apprenticeship for emerging performers. Burden has a long history with the company, with such roles as Aschenbach in Death in Venice, Male Chorus in The Rape of Lucretia, Belmonte in The Abduction from the Seraglio and Pylades in Francesca Zambello’s production of Iphigénie en Tauride.
“I love that this is a homecoming for Bill,” Zambello said. “Following our collaboration at Glimmerglass in 1997, he has gone on to perform at major opera houses around the world. I think he is a perfect mentor for our Young Artists.”
As part of the company’s Second Stage series, The Glimmerglass Festival will remount the youth opera Odyssey by Ben Moore and Kelley Rourke. Presented in sold-out performances in 2015, Odyssey offers an action-packed retelling of a hero’s epic journey homeward and will feature the Glimmerglass Youth Chorus and members of the Young Artists Program.
PORGY AND BESS (Gershwin/Heyward & Gershwin)
The Glimmerglass Festival opens its 2017 season with a mainstage production of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. Francesca Zambello will direct the classic American opera, which shows how the marginalized people of Catfish Row struggle to create and maintain a home for themselves.
“To me, Catfish Row is both a home and a prison,” Zambello said. “The idea of home in this piece offers such a contradiction. The community can be considered a utopia protected from the bigger world, but it fails its inhabitants too. They can’t escape.”
Glimmerglass will present the original version of Porgy and Bess with a full orchestra and large cast.
Musa Ngqungwana, who sings Gottardo in this summer’s The Thieving Magpie, will return to the Festival stage to sing the role of Porgy, the disabled beggar who yearns to make a life for himself and Bess in Catfish Row. Talise Trevigne, recently seen as Clara in David Little’s JFK at Fort Worth Opera, will sing the troubled Bess. Norman Garrett, a recent alumnus of the Washington National Opera Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, will sing Crown. They will be joined by Judith Skinner as Maria and Frederick Ballentine as Sportin’ Life.
John DeMain, who has conducted more than 350 performances of Porgy and Bess, will return to the Glimmerglass podium after conducting this season’s Sweeney Todd.
Peter J. Davison will design the scenery. Davison designed the upcoming Metropolitan Opera Cyrano de Bergerac production. Lighting design will be by Mark McCullough. The costumes are designed by Paul Tazewell, who just received a Tony Award for his work on the hit musical Hamilton.
The production will run July 7 through August 21, 2017.
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s beloved classic Oklahoma!, revolutionary for its integration of score, book and choreography,will make its Glimmerglass debut in a new production by Arena Stage’s Artistic Director Molly Smith.
“Rodgers and Hammerstein are, quite simply, the best in musical theater,” Smith said. “They are giants. Subversive, universal and gutsy, this musical appeals to anyone who longs for freedom, change and transformation.”
The story of Oklahoma! centers on Laurey and her two suitors, Curly and Jud, and features a supporting cast of colorful characters working to gain a foothold in Oklahoma Territory. The score includes such timeless numbers as “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’,” “I Cain’t Say No,” and “People Will Say We’re in Love.”
Vanessa Becerra, seen this season as Musetta in La bohème, will sing Laurey. Baritone Jarrett Ott, currently singing Masetto in Don Giovanni at The Santa Fe Opera, will take on the role of Curly. Judith Skinner will sing the role of Aunt Eller.
James Lowe, who conducted Glimmerglass’ 2013 production of Camelot, will lead the Glimmerglass Festival Orchestra.
Tony Award-winner Eugene Lee, known for his designs of Candide and Wicked on Broadway,will design the scenery. Costumes were designed by Tony Award-winner Martin Pakledinaz for Arena Stage. Robert Wierzel will design the lighting. Parker Esse, whose career highlights include associate choreographer for Broadway’s Finian’s Rainbow and A Tale of Two Cities, will choreograph.
The production will run July 8 through August 22, 2017.
XERXES (Handel/Minato & Stampiglia)
The 2017 season will include Handel’s Baroque masterpiece Xerxes. Handel’s tale of the Persian king reveals a more domestic view of history’s fierce conqueror in a plot in which romantic attraction threatens fraternal loyalty.
Countertenor John Holiday, last seen at Glimmerglass as Cesare in Cato in Utica, will return to sing the title role. 2016 Young Artist Allegra De Vita joins him as his brother and rival in love, Arsamenes. De Vita joins the Washington National Opera Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program in September.
Nicole Paiement, who leads the 2016 production of The Crucible, will conduct.
Tazewell Thompson, who has directed Cato in Utica and Lost in the Stars among other Glimmerglass productions, will direct.
“Xerxes I of Persia ruled one of the great empires of the ancient world, but Handel’s opera is less concerned with military campaigns than with romantic ones,” Thompson said. “I love these pieces that center on the personal lives of outsize historical figures. It is so easy to forget that every great leader has a complicated inner life behind his or her cultivated public persona. The events in Handel’s opera may not be 100 percent based in historical fact, but they point to some important truths about our shared humanity. Like a Shakespeare play, Xerxes has everything – comedy, pathos and beauty. The first aria of the opera contains one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever composed – timeless and peaceful and exquisite – a love song to a plane tree!”
Glimmerglass veteran John Conklin will design the scenery and will be joined by Sara Jean Tosetti, who returns to design costumes after her success with Cato in Utica. Lighting will be designed by Robert Wierzel, whose work has recently appeared in The Marriage of Figaro at Lyric Opera of Chicago and The Shining at Minnesota Opera.
The production will run July 15 through August 17, 2017.
THE SIEGE OF CALAIS (Donizetti/Cammarano)
Donizetti’s rarely heard opera The Siege of Calais (L’assedio di Calais),focuses on the year during the Hundred Years’ War when the citizens of Calais, France, resisted the forces of the British. Instead of placing the action in its original 1346 time frame, director Francesca Zambello will update the setting to the present day, exploring the conditions that have caused millions of people to flee their besieged homelands, resulting in a worldwide refugee crisis.
“The Siege of Calais has incredibly beautiful music about a brutal story,” Zambello said. “Asking people to sacrifice themselves so their countrymen can live is horrific, and I think it’s hard to grasp that it is still happening. We’re still fighting about the same things.”
Mezzo-soprano Aleksandra Romano, former Glimmerglass Young Artist and current member of Washington National Opera’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, will return to sing the trouser role of Aurelio, heroic son of the Mayor of Calais. She is joined by Leah Crocetto, who sings Eleonora, Aurelio’s wife. Crocetto sings the title role in Aida at San Francisco Opera this season.
Glimmerglass Festival Music Director Joseph Colaneri will conduct the bel canto piece.
“The Siege of Calais is an extraordinary score coming just a year after Lucia di Lammermoor and containing some of Gaetano Donizetti’s most dramatic and lyrical vocal writing,” Colaneri said. “We are looking forward to presenting this rare bel canto gem to our audiences at Glimmerglass.”
Set design will be by James Noone, who has designed many recent productions at Glimmerglass, including Candide and The Flying Dutchman, and Jessica Jahn will return to design costumes. She designs this summer’s The Crucible. Mark McCullough will return to design the lighting.
The production will run July 16 through August 19, 2017. The Glimmerglass production of The Siege of Calais is being sponsored by Elizabeth M. and Jean-Marie Eveillard.
STOMPING GROUNDS (World Premiere: Paige Hernandez and Victor Simonson)
Stories of refugees, immigrants and natives will intertwine in Stomping Grounds, a newly commissioned piece from Victor Simonson and Paige Hernandez that blends hip-hop, spoken word and opera.
Hernandez is an acclaimed performer, director, choreographer and playwright known for her effective fusion of theater, hip-hop, dance and education. With multi-disciplinary composer Victor Simonson, the pair offers an assembly of stories about race, identity and connection to home in an hour-long piece. In development workshops directed by Hernandez, it will travel to several regional and New York City area venues in 2017. Stomping Grounds will then premiere at The Glimmerglass Festival July 30, August 1, 3 and 7.
“The partnership with Glimmerglass will be innovative in its fusion of hip-hop and opera and the inclusion of artists of color throughout the entire process. Stomping Grounds aims to honor each art form in ways that are modern, inventive and authentic,” Hernandez said.
Written entirely in verse, Stomping Grounds is about defining home in the deepest sense. Its story will emerge from the gentrification of a neighborhood, the disruption of sacred land and the fracturing of tradition and history by contemporary realities. The music will be performed with electronic accompaniment and piano.
“Stomping Grounds seeks to bridge the gap between hip-hop and opera by creating a new art form that will speak profoundly to both the opera and hip-hop communities,” Simonson said. “By combining both genres seamlessly, we hope to attract new audiences who have not experienced the power of opera. Likewise, opera lovers will have the opportunity to experience the power and passion of hip-hop music.”
SCALIA/GINSBURG (Derrick Wang)
2017 Glimmerglass Artist in Residence and acclaimed tenor William Burden will star in Derrick Wang’s opera Scalia/Ginsburg. This one-act opera is inspired by Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia and is about law, music and the power of friendship in a divided world.
“Scalia/Ginsburg comes from my fascination with the intersection of opera and theater, tradition and change, and the interdisciplinary power of the arts in society – ideas also embodied by The Glimmerglass Festival,” Derrick Wang said. “I am excited to work with Glimmerglass to share this story of a friendship that transcends political and philosophical divides.”
This production will take place August 4 on the Glimmerglass Festival mainstage and August 13 at the Otsego County Courthouse.
New subscriptions for the 2017 Festival go on sale October 17, 2016; single tickets for the 2017 Festival go on sale January 31, 2017. The company opens the 2016 Festival on Friday with new productions of Puccini’s La bohème, Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, Rossini’s The Thieving Magpie and Ward’s The Crucible.
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