Instead of asking the public to come to the opera, Opera Saratoga comes to them. Up to six different locations will host the company’s offerings from Thursday, May 26.
“I had always looked elsewhere, and between the pandemic and the Spa Little Theater not being available, it was a great opportunity to explore and connect with the community,” said Lawrence Edelson, director artistic and general of the company. “We have tailored the performances to each location.”
For example, the May 26 concert at the Charles R. Wood Theater in Glens Falls will feature the 22 singers from the company’s Young Artist Program who were selected from more than 1,000 singers who applied. They will perform arias from 20 different operas.
On June 2 and 3, the company goes to the Round Lake Auditorium to perform Rossini’s “Petite Messe Solennelle”.
“The score requires two pianos and a harmonium,” Edelson said. “But I wanted to use the historical organ in the auditorium. It will be a highlight. »
Musical theater will be featured on June 12 in two shows at The Mansion in Rock City Falls. Musical favorites from the 1920s to the present under the direction of Broadway conductor Laura Bergquist will include a tribute to Stephen Sondheim, who recently passed away at the age of 91. This will be complemented by drinks and food prepared by Executive Chef Rick Bieber, trained at Le Cordon Bleu. . Seating will be at a cabaret-style table.
There are two other events in June: the gala will be held June 5 at The Barn at French Mountain in Lake George in honor of outgoing company president Martha Strohl; and a Juneteenth Celebration on June 19 at Proctors with baritone Sidney Outlaw, winner of the 2010 Concurso Internacional de Canto Montserrat Caballe Grand Prix, who has a thriving international career.
At the end of June and beginning of July, the company will be in full opera mode. The first is “Sweeney Todd” at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on June 29-30.
“It is a blessing to work with PSPC. After last year’s incredibly successful ‘Man of La Mancha’, we thought about what would work well in terms of scale and type of orchestra resources. And there is no professional musical theater in Saratoga Springs,” he said.
The show was first produced in 1979 on Broadway and won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Considered Sondheim’s masterpiece – he wrote the music to Hugh Wheeler’s libretto – it has seen numerous productions, including a 2007 film starring Johnny Depp in the lead role.
“There’s not a baritone in the world that doesn’t want to sing Sweeney,” Edelson said with a laugh.
He knew who to turn to: Craig Colclough, an internationally renowned bass-baritone and a regular at the Metropolitan Opera.
“This will be his first Sweeney and he’s excited,” Edelson said.
Playing Ms. Lovett is three-time Tony Award-nominated and Drama Desk Award-winning Albany-born soprano Carolee Carmello, who had previously sung the role but not with a full orchestra.
“She is very excited. And I’m excited because there are a lot of roles for young artists,” Edelson said.
This is the first time that Opera Saratoga has performed “Sweeney Todd” and it is Sondheim’s first opera he has ever performed. Stephen Nachamie directs and choreographs; Laura Bergquist will direct.
What might be the most significant effort of the season is the new opera “Sky on Swings”, which will be presented on July 7 and 9 at The Egg. Written by Lembit Beecher to a libretto by Hannah Moscovitch, it premiered in September 2018 with the Philadelphia Opera. The opera was also a finalist for Best World Premiere at the 2019 International Opera Awards. It is a 78-minute musical and theatrical exploration of what it feels like to live with Alzheimer’s disease.
“I knew about Lembit’s work and since I have a father and three grandparents with Alzheimer’s disease, I wondered if I really wanted to go see him,” he said. “But I was blown away by the work. It spoke to me. I found it ideal for Saratoga. It showed that life can go on even with a diagnosis like this.
For the composer, however, researching the disease and talking to caregivers and people with the disease was eye-opening.
“Seven years ago when I was in residence at the Philadelphia Opera House, I did a workshop to do little scenes to try things out,” Beecher said. “I did one on Alzheimer’s disease and remembered that everyone had a personal reaction. . .a story to tell. I became more aware. Whether it intersects with class, race or demographics. I became interested in people’s different experiences and how they saw the world and what it would sound like and how it would sound musically.
Beecher decided to use 11 musicians with different electronically produced sounds and centered its story on two women and how their children best support their mothers.
“The big thing I learned through the process of writing opera is that illness is individual to the person,” he said. “You can’t ignore the person. There’s still so much of an inner world about what they remember or don’t remember. I hope the audience will come out with a sense of empathy.
Acclaimed contralto Meredith Arwady will sing the role of Martha in Phyllis Pancella’s Danny. Edelson will direct. Emily Senturia will direct.
The final production will be one of the grand traditional operas — Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville” on July 8 and 10 at Proctors. It will be sung in Italian with English surtitles.
“It’s fun and comedic with lots of virtuoso singing and the company hasn’t done that in years,” Edelson said. “We will also have up to a 35-piece orchestra.”
Baritone Sidney Outlaw made his company debut as Figaro. Eve Summer directs and Dean Williamson directs.
Departure from Edelson
One of the biggest changes this season will be that Edelson will leave the company when it comes to an end. He will join the University of Houston as a practice teacher and artistic director of Moores Opera Center, a training program for opera artists. He will continue his work at the American Lyric Theater in New York, a mentoring company for new opera composers, librettists and playwrights.
“I feel strongly that I need to prioritize and center my artistic practice,” Edelson said. “I love Opera Saratoga and have made so many wonderful friends here. But I’m excited to know where I’m going. This is the next step in my career.”
Saratoga Opera Season
May 26: 7 p.m.: Stars of Tomorrow: Wood Theatre, Glens Falls
June 2-3: 7:30 p.m.: Auditorium Rossini “Small Solemn Mass” at Lac Rond
June 5: 4 p.m.: Gala. The Barn, Lake George
June 12: 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.: Broadway Cabaret, The Mansion, Rock City Falls
June 19: 2:30 p.m.: Sidney Outlaw, Proctors GE Theater
June 29-30: 7:30 p.m.: “Sweeney Todd”, SPAC
7 (7.30 p.m.) and 9 (2 p.m.) July: “Sky on Swings”; the egg
8 (7.30 p.m.) and 10 July (2 p.m.): “The Barber of Seville”; Supervisors
HOW MUCH: Each location has its own prices.
MORE INFO: www.operasaratoga.org; 518 584-6018
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Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts, Saratoga Springs