Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

August 13, 2013

Glimmerglass Festival

Cooperstown, NY
July 6- August 24, 2013
by Michael J. Moran

The Glimmerglass Festival’s 39th season presents five works in four programs, all of which can be
seen in one weekend during August in the exemplary acoustics of its 900-seat Alice Busch Opera Theater. This year’s festival celebrates “the Romantics,” notably the bicentennials of Verdi and Wagner.

Verdi’s early (1840) comedy of mistaken identity “Un Giorno di Regno,” here presented in an English adaptation by Kelley Rourke as “King for a Day,” proved an entertaining rarity, with a perky score and intricate plot evoking both Rossini and Gilbert and Sullivan. Baritone Alex Lawrence was a hoot in the title role, with especially hilarious support from mezzo-soprano Ginger Costa-Jackson and baritone Andrew Wilkowske and rousing accompaniment by the festival orchestra under their new music director Joseph Colaneri.

Written just three years later, Wagner’s tragedy “The Flying Dutchman” sounded more like its composer’s mature works in Glimmerglass’s dramatic production, which was galvanized by the riveting bass-baritone Ryan McKinny in the title role. Soprano Melody Moore as Senta, the woman who could rescue the Dutchman from his endless seafaring, stood out among a strong supporting cast, and John Keenan led the energetic orchestra.

An innovative pairing of Pergolesi’s 1736 “Stabat Mater” and David Lang’s 2007 “Little Match Girl Passion” showed contrasting perspectives on suffering: Mary’s witnessing of her son Jesus’s crucifixion; and the Hans Christian Andersen character’s death by freezing on New Year’s Eve.
Soprano Nadine Sierra and countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo were moving soloists in the “Stabat Mater,” and they joined eight nonsinging Glimmerglass “young artists” as dancers in this visual interpretation of the text. Four other young artists sang Lang’s “Passion” text, played several soft percussion instruments, and were joined by the Glimmerglass Festival Children’s Chorus, whose distinguished work was a tribute to the festival’s community education programs in local schools. Speranza Scappucci (Pergolesi) and David Moody (Lang) conducted eloquently. 

An exuberant production of Lerner and Loewe’s “Camelot,” this year’s installment in the festival’s annual mounting of a classic Broadway musical, showcased the talented local-born conductor James Lowe. Baritone Nathan Gunn, 2013 festival “artist-in-residence,” was a dashing Lancelot, but soprano Andriana Churchman as Guinevere and baritone David Pittsinger as Arthur made even stronger impressions.

Such nearby attractions as the Baseball Hall of Fame, scenic Otsego Lake, and the Fenimore Art Museum, this summer featuring several exhibitions on American Romantics, offer worthwhile diversions from the busy Glimmerglass schedule.