Glimmerglass Festival
News Release

June 11, 2020

For Immediate Release:

Glimmerglass Festival Holds June 18 Virtual Town Hall to Discuss the Role of Arts Organizations in Propelling Social Justice 

Cooperstown, NY (via livestream) — The Glimmerglass Festival, the Central New York opera and music theater festival, will kick off its revised summer programming with a Virtual Town Hall to discuss how the opera industry and arts organizations can work toward a more inclusive environment for Black artists, technicians and staff members. The Town Hall is the first part of its Glimmerglass Glimpses series, a program of online summer offerings around song, story, and community.

Artistic & General Director Francesca Zambello will lead a forum with Festival Music Director Joseph Colaneri and Artistic Advisor Eric Owens, taking questions to examine opera as a means toward social justice, the critical role of allyship in the arts, Glimmerglass’ ongoing social justice initiatives and how the company can strengthen its representation of Black artists, leaders and music.

The Town Hall will be accessible on the Glimmerglass Festival website on Thursday, June 18, at 5:30 p.m. EDT, as well as YouTube and Facebook Live. To submit questions in advance, visit: Questions will also be accepted during the event. More information regarding future events in the “Glimmerglass Glimpses” series will be released this month.

“The opera industry retains a long legacy of elitism and explicit and implicit racism,” Zambello said. “It happens in programming, design, casting, and administration — and we are not blameless. Glimmerglass must engage in deep self-analysis.

“We are committed to analyzing our work, expanding our current strategies for supporting communities who have yet to see equal representation in the opera and arts industries, and, just as crucially, strengthening our allyship moving forward. I hope the Glimmerglass community will join us en masse for our upcoming Virtual Town Hall so that we may engage in the difficult conversations crucial to our growth as a nation and arts industry.”

Zambello has made it a platform of her career to support inclusive opera. Since her appointment in 2010, Glimmerglass has worked to expand its rosters to include more Black artists and artists of color, as well as artists from the LGBTQ+ and gender-diverse communities.

“Creating a more diverse future for opera is absolutely crucial,” she said. “At Glimmerglass, we’ve made it our mission to expand the definition of opera and to present works that realistically reflect America: a nation of many cultures and races. But we know it isn’t enough. The Festival must actively increase its support of the Black community, and we must urge other companies to do the same.”

Artistic Advisor Eric Owens has had a longstanding relationship with the Festival since his 2001 debut in The Rape of Lucretia. In addition to his many roles on the Glimmerglass stage, he mentored Glimmerglass Young Artists as an Artist in Residence in 2012 and 2015 before his subsequent appointment to Artistic Advisor in 2017. He serves as Chair of the company’s Artistic Advisory Board.

In addition to working with Glimmerglass, Owens serves as Co-Director of the Vocal Studies Division and the Curtis Opera Theatre at the Curtis Institute of Music.

A fellow advocate for arts education, Festival Music Director Joseph Colaneri has served at Glimmerglass’ helm since 2013. His dedication to teaching the next generation of opera artists has encompassed 20 years as the Artistic Director of the Opera Program at the Mannes School of Music, and expansion of the West Australian Opera Young Artist Program while leading as the company’s Artistic Director from 2012-2014.

During the Town Hall, the panel will discuss the goals the Festival identified and began developing over the last year, including the plan to identify a consultant to assist in some of the following:

  • Comprehensively evaluate Glimmerglass’ productions, educational programs, and partnerships

  • Review and bolster commitment to company equity, diversity and inclusion policies and procedures

  • Expand equity, diversity, and inclusion trainings for all full-time and seasonal staff, as well as interns, Young Artists, and guest artists

  • Recruit more diverse Board members, staff and interns

  • Develop tools to monitor and evaluate progress

  • Publish a concluding report designed as a guidebook for continuing efforts

Glimmerglass has received major support from Denise R. Sobel toward implementation of these initiatives. Sobel is also a key supporter of Roundabout Theater’s Theatrical Workforce Development Program.

Glimmerglass’ Virtual Town Hall offers a chance for the community to gather, mourn, and shape a more inclusive future for American opera. The Glimmerglass Festival’s inaugural Virtual Town Hall will occur on Thursday, June 18, at 5:30 pm EDT. The Town Hall may be accessed through Glimmerglass’ website, Visit to submit questions in advance of the Town Hall.


Click for photos of The Glimmerglass Festival. 

Brittany Lesavoy
Director of Communications
The Glimmerglass Festival

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