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Monday, June 16, 2014

Summer Marches In: The 2014 Superconductor Festival Guide Part I

Your guide to getting out of New York and hearing great music.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Soprano Ellie Dehn is Euryanthe at Bard SummerScape.
Photo by Todd Norwood © 2014 Bard Festival.
As summer marches in, the festival season is upon us. Here's the Superconductor guide to getting out of New York for spectacular scenery, gorgeous music, and opera performances that you'll read about here in the next two months.

Caramoor Festival (Katonah, NY June 21-Sept. 21)
This gorgeous estate in Katonah, NY is the summer home of the Orchestra of St. Luke's. Caramoor opens its gates with a concert featuring violinist Joshua Bell. The Bel Canto at Caramoor series features the return of Angela Meade in the title role of Lucrezia Borgia (July 12) and baritone Stephen Powell in the title role of Verdi's Rigoletto (July 19).

But there's more to Caramoor than just opera: Pablo Heras-Casado conducts the Orchestra of St. Luke's. Bela Fleck and the Fleck-tones play with the acclaimed ensemble Brooklyn Rider. And cellist Alisa Weilerstein is this year's artist-in-residence, playing solo recitals and concerts with the Ariel Quartet.

Bard SummerScape/Bard Festival  (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY July 1-Aug. 17)
Every summer, Leon Botstein thrills opera lovers with rare works that lie outside the continuity of the standard repertory. This year, the Fisher Center on the Bard College campus will once again be home to the arts for a two-part festival. Opening July 1 Bard SummerScape offers theater, dance and music, climaxing with five performances of Carl Maria von Weber's gothic thriller Euryanthe (July 25-Aug. 3).

The Bard Festival (in August) celebrates its 25th anniversary with Schubert and his World, an exhaustive twelve-program two-weekend survey of the music of Franz Peter Schubert, featuring a double bill of the singspiel Verschworen with the Franz Suppe operetta Schubert. The Festival ends with an eagerly anticipated one-off performance of the operatic masterpiece Fierrabras.

Glimmerglass Festival (Cooperstown, NY July 11-Aug. 24)
In Cooperstown New York, the Glimmerglass Festival (located at the Alice Busch Opera House on the northwest shore of Lake Otsego) opens July 11 with a new production of Madama Butterfly starring soprano Yunah Lee as Cio-Cio-San. The most eagerly anticipated opera at Glimmerglass this summer is  Ariadne in Naxos (sung in German and English) featuring super-soprano Christine Goerke in the title role.

Modern opera will be represented by Tobias Picker's An American Tragedy (originally commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera) will be heard in a new revised version: appropriate given that this opera is set on a lake in upstate New York. Finally, Rodgers and Hammerstein's beloved Carousel will remind audiences that "You Never Walk Alone."

Tanglewood (Lenox, MA July 5-Sept. 1)
Up in Lenox, MA, the Tanglewood Festival features the Boston Symphony Orchestra in their summer residency.  The first summer season of the tenure of new music director Andris Nelssons opens July 5 with a concert at the Koussevitsky Music Shed featuring Renée Fleming. Concert highlighs include Mahler's earth-shaking Resurrection Symphony under Christoph von Dohnányi and Mr. Nelsons conducting the final scene of Der Rosenkavalier. 

Opera offerings at Ozawa Hall include a chamber orchestration of Jack Beeson's searing modern opera Lizzie Borden and Handel's Teseo performed by the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra under Nicholas McGegan.

Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) (Aug. 6-23)
The Saratoga Performing Arts Center in upstate New York is located in the resort town of Saratoga: America's playground a century ago and still known for its beautiful downtown and nearby race track.

In August, (SPAC) becomes the summer home of the Philadelphia Orchestra, who have become an integral part of the cultural life of this famous resort town. This August, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center also become resident performers at SPAC, with a week of classical and chamber works.

Other festival destinations to explore: The Maverick Music Festival (June 21-Sept. 7, Woodstock NY) , Music Mountain (June 16-Sept. 8, Falls River, CT) , Norfolk Chamber Music Festival (June 14-Aug. 16, Norfolk CT)  and Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival (June 30-Aug. 24, Bridgehampton, NY)
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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.