The Glimmerglass Festival is a not-for-profit corporation which operates as a professional summer opera company in Cooperstown, New York. Glimmerglass is exempt from federal income taxes under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Glimmerglass is governed by a Board of Trustees and is managed by a professional staff.
The company presented its first season in the summer of 1975, when four performances of La Bohème were staged in the auditorium of the Cooperstown High School before a cumulative audience of 1,200 local residents.
The company opened its Alice Busch Opera Theater in June 1987, which is located along the shore of Otsego Lake, the “Glimmerglass” of James Fenimore Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales.
Glimmerglass offers more than 40 performances of four operas each July and August. Productions have been presented in repertory since 1990.
For the first 17 seasons, all operas were sung in English; since 1992, they have been performed, with few exceptions, in their original language, accompanied by projected English text.
The Alice Busch Opera Theater was designed by Hugh Hardy of Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates, with acoustics by Peter George Associates. It was the first theater built specifically for opera since the Metropolitan Opera house opened in 1966.
Glimmerglass’s Young Artists Program, founded in 1988, brings singers in the first stages of their professional careers to study and perform at Glimmerglass. These young artists are chosen annually from more than 700 applicants.
In 2010, Glimmerglass had an operating budget of about $5.5 million.
In 2010, Glimmerglass Opera distributed 32,582 tickets.
Paul Kellogg was appointed as Glimmerglass Opera’s Executive Manager in 1979 and was General Manager by 1984 and General Director by 1987. While he was responsible for many artistic aspects of the company during this time, Kellogg’s title officially changed in 1995 to General & Artistic Director.
Michael MacLeod was appointed General Director in 2005, and after Kellogg’s retirement in 2006, became General & Artistic Director through the 2010 Festival.
Francesca Zambello officially assumed the position of Artistic & General Director September 2010. Under her leadership, the company changed its name from Glimmerglass Opera to The Glimmerglass Festival.
The company closed its 2012 summer season with a more than 12 percent increase in ticket revenue over 2011.
The Royal Opera House Muscat invited The Glimmerglass Festival to present its acclaimed 2012 production of The Music Man in the new theater in Oman, located on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula. The Music Manwas presented at the Royal Opera House Muscat on October 9, 10 and 11, 2012.
Approximately 70 percent of the company’s audience travels from New York State. About 50 percent of the company’s audience is coming from within a two-hour radius of Cooperstown. About 11 percent of audience members travel from New York City.