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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2019 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Superconductor Summer Festival Preview Part I

What's on at Caramoor, Bard College and the Glimmerglass Festival.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Opera in the summer north of New York isn't quite this idyllic.
Image: The Orchard by Hudson River School painter Whittredge Worthington.
The concert season is (finally) ending and New Yorkers are getting ready for a slew of summer concerts and festivals. We here at Superconductor would like to offer a preview of what's hot in the hottest weeks of the year. We start the  breakdown of the major classical music, opera and modern music festivals with goings-on just north of New York City.

The sign outside Caramoor.
Caramoor Festival
What and Where is Caramoor?
Located on a sprawling, secluded estate in Katonah, NY, the Caramoor Center for Music and Arts is the summer residential home of the Orchestra of St. Luke's. The venue boasts two major performance locations: the Spanish Courtyard of the manor house and, a short walk away, the tent-covered Venetian Theater, which is used for large-scale concerts and opera performance.

Opera is one of the major attractions here, with the Bel Canto at Caramoor series offering rarely played masterpieces from the 19th century. This summer, the program features Verdi in Paris!, semi-staged concert performances of two Verdi operas originally written for Paris, sung in the original French. On July 6, Les Vepres Siciliennes features soprano Angela Meade in the key role of Helene. Two weeks later, the festival offers a rarely heard French-language performance of the four-act version of Don Carlos with tenor James Valenti in the title role.

Caramoor is also the summer home of the Orchestra of St. Luke's. As long as the weather cooperates, OSL concerts are always of interest. On July 14, pianist Yefim Bronfman plays Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto, bracketed by the overture to Verdi's La Forza del Destino and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5. Peter Oundjian conducts.

Getting there: Caramoor is in Katonah, New York. It is accessible by car with parking on-site. Bel Canto at Caramoor festivals feature the Caramoor Caravan, a shuttle bus service that departs from Lexington Avenue and 42nd Street in Manhattan on concert days only.
The Fisher Center at Bard College.

Bard SummerScape/Bard Music Festival

What and Where is the Bard Festival?
Travel north along the Hudson and you'll find the little college town of Annandale-on-Hudson. In addition to being the (fictional) birthplace of comic book superheroine Jean Grey, this is home to (the real) Bard College, a spacious liberal arts college run by one Dr. Leon Botstein.

Dr. Botstein is the director of Bard SummerScape and the Bard Music Festival, a pair of summer offerings focusing on unfamiliar repertory and presenting those works in the Frank Gehry-designed Fisher Center. This year, the good Doctor offers Sergei Taneyev's opera Orestia, followed in August by a slew of lesser-known orchestral and dramatic works from the pen of Igor Stravinsky. M

Getting there:
The campus is located in the town of Annandale-on-Hudson, New York and is about a four hour drive north of Manhattan. The Festival offers shuttle bus service (from Lincoln Center) and shuttle pickup from the Peekskill MetroNorth station on certain concert dates. Check the official website for more information.

The Alice Busch Opera Theater, home of the Glimmerglass Festival.
Glimmerglass Festival

What and Where is Glimmerglass?
Go further north and west, and you'll reach the idyllic (and baseball-crazed) village of Cooperstown, NY. North of the village (and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum) is the Alice Busch Opera Theater, home base of the Glimmerglass Festival. The theater rests snugly on the shore of the lake that bears its name: Lake Otsego, called the "Glimmerglass" in the novels of James Fenimore Cooper.

This year, Glimmerglass celebrates the bicentennials of Richard Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi, with new productions of the former's Der Fliegende Holländer and the latter's Un Giorno di Regno. This is Verdi's second opera, his first attempt at comedy, and a work that is performed very rarely. The Festival also features performances of David Lang's Little Match Girl Passion paired with the Stabat Mater of Giovanni Battista Pergolesi. Theclassic Broadway musical Camelot rounds out the main offerings.

Getting there: 
Adirondack Trailways offers a daily bus to and from Cooperstown, but not directly to the opera house. Helpful hint: avoid the village on Induction Weekend (July 26-29) when the hotels fill up with autograph seekers as great players of the past are inducted into the Hall of Fame. To get to Glimmerglass from Cooperstown itself, there is a courtesy bus for ticket-holders that picks up just off Main Street.
Map with distances to Caramoor (B), Bard College (C) and Glimmerglass (D) from New York.

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