The Glimmerglass Festival is proud to partner with the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties and with the Oneida County Youth Bureau to host a program for underserved students from Utica community centers. The program brought 87 attendees, including 75 students, to see the Monday, July 10 matinee performance of the Glimmerglass Festival’s production of Candide by Leonard Bernstein.

Before the production, the students had a chance to attend a workshop on Saturday, July 8 with Glimmerglass Teaching Artist Pamela Simonson. They were taught about the inner workings of opera and were encouraged to tap into what they related to or interested them about the music or production. Later in the workshop the students created their own stories utilizing costumes and props. “I was able to get them to think outside the box about what they create based on the things we learned previously in the workshop,” Simonson said.  

The students arrived at the Festival grounds on Monday morning with their newfound knowledge of opera and excitement for the performance. Callum Torruella, a member of the Glimmerglass youth opera and Broadway Utica, said that the event was a first time experience for many of the students. “I think that opera is oftentimes inaccessible or misunderstood and I think it’s just really amazing that young people are being exposed to opera in this way,” said Torruella.

The students toured the Alice Busch Opera Theater and were addressed by Joel Morain, Glimmerglass A/V Coordinator. On the tour, they dived deep into the functions of the theater, stage, props, and more. Morain answered many questions from curious students. The visitors walked through the dressing room area and ate lunch in the Pavillion. During their break, Artistic & General Director Rob Ainsley, Music Director Joseph Colaneri, and Pamela Simonson spoke. In no time, the students headed toward the Alice Busch Opera Theater to experience Candide

Jawwaad Rasheed, Director of Junior Frontiers and former lawyer, judge, and chair of The Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties Board of Trustees, explained his passion to create opportunities for underprivileged and diverse youth. “The key with young people is exposure to any and all positive things until they find which one is their passion,” Rasheed said. Rasheed continued, saying, “Utica has over 47 different languages in their high school and we have people from every walk of life in our program, and this is just great exposure for these kids.”

This event would not be possible without the funding and support from Hon. Joan Shkane (ret.), Glimmerglass patron and former Family Court judge, who for years has helped bring underserved students to Glimmerglass productions and organize educational workshops for them. “We think it’s so important for audience development and personal enrichment. The kids are like sponges, they’re so receptive,” Shkane said. 

Thank you to the Junior Frontiers, Midtown Utica Community Center, Mohawk Valley Latino Association, Broadway Utica, I CAN, House of the Good Shepherd, and Dodge Pratt Northam Art and Community Center for their partnership in this important community outreach effort. 

Click here for more images from the Monday, July 10 visit. All photos by Brent DeLanoy/The Glimmerglass Festival.

About The Glimmerglass Festival — The Glimmerglass Festival is a professional non-profit summer opera company dedicated to producing new productions each season. Rob Ainsley was appointed Artistic & General Director in 2022, and the 2023 season will be his first with Glimmerglass. The company continues its tradition of four new fully staged productions, now including three operas and one work of American musical theater, performed with full orchestra, large cast, and no sound amplification. These four productions are supplemented by special performances, cabarets, concerts, lectures and symposiums throughout the season. The company continues to attract an international audience to the scenic Cooperstown area, where the talent of singers, directors, designers and staff from around the world converges in the Alice Busch Opera Theater to produce world-class opera and musical theater.

Mission Statement — Produce new, little-known and familiar operas and musical theater in innovative productions; Provide professional training and performance opportunities for emerging artists and interns; Engage important artists who inspire the highest standards of achievement; Inspire dialogue around meaningful issues of the day through song and story; Collaborate with regional organizations, schools and businesses to enhance life in Central New York.

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