Opera Saratoga delights audiences every summer with beautiful music and dazzling sets. An internationally recognized opera festival, Opera Saratoga has been delighting audiences since July 5, 1962 when it first performed at the Diamond Point Theater in Lake George as the Lake George Opera. Larry Edelson, the artistic and general director of Opera Saratoga since July 2014, hopes Capital District residents know there is world class opera in their backyard. “Opera Saratoga is a real treasure,” he says.
Opera Saratoga kicks off its summer festival opera performances on June 29, 2018 at the intimate Spa Little Theater nestled within the Saratoga Spa State Park. Edelson promises that each of the festival’s shows will be exciting for audiences. “Each performance is an up close and personal experience with opera,” he said. This season, each opera is sung in English – the productions will have something for everyone.
“The Merry Widow” is one of the most popular operettas in the world. Despite its popularity, Opera Saratoga hasn’t performed it in more than 30 years. The operetta is a beautiful marriage of comedy and dancing. “This is a really fun show and is perfect for families and first time opera-goers,” Edelson said.
“Rocking Horse Winner” and “Vinkensport” (The Finch Opera) is advertised as being a double bill. “Rocking Horse Winner” will have its American premiere at the summer festival. It is also Opera Saratoga’s first horseracing themed opera. “Opera Saratoga calls Saratoga home and having an opera with horseracing theme makes perfect sense,” Edelson said. “The opera is all about luck and chance.” The second half of the performance will be the world premiere of “Vinkensport.” According to Edelson, “Vinkesport” combats the elitist connotation of opera, especially for first-time audience members. The opera explores the nature of competition and the need to win through the frame of an obscure Flemish folk sport, Finch-Sitting. “How far will someone go to win a competition? This is a piece that will really resonate with audiences,” he said. “It will also entertain them!”
Almost 70 years ago, “The Consul” premiered on Broadway to rave reviews and won both the Pulitzer Prize and New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award. It is a riveting opera that still delivers a punch as powerful and timely as its subject matter: the struggle for freedom against oppression, and the maddening nature of unrelenting bureaucracy. “It is a very topical performance that speak to our humanity,” Edelson said. “It shines light on the people who are suffering, including immigrants and refugees, and their challenges.” Edelson believes audiences will be moved by this opera not only because of its beautiful music but because the story is so haunting.
In addition to the opera productions, Opera Saratoga also offers a robust local concert series during the Summer Festival. “It is important for us to be connected to the community we serve,” Edelson said. The Stars of Tomorrow, hosted by Skidmore College on May 26 at 7:30 p.m., is a free show kicking off the summer season. The concert will feature 24 singers from around the country who have been selected from almost 1,000 applicants to be members of Opera Saratoga’s prestigious Young Artist Program. Presented in partnership with the Mansion Inn in Rock City Falls, on June 10 Opera Saratoga will celebrate Leonard Bernstein’s centennial birthday in two concerts, at 2pm and 7:30pm. Members of Opera Saratoga’s Young Artist Program will celebrate the legacy of one of America’s most beloved composers, who brought us masterpieces including “West Side Story,” “Candide,” and “Wonderful Town.” General admission is $60 per ticket. Seating is cabaret style tables, and is strictly limited for these two concerts. Tapas and drinks, inspired by Leonard Bernstein’s theatrical works and specially concocted by The Mansion Inn’s Cordon Bleu trained Executive Chef Rick Bieber, will be available for purchase.
On June 17 at 7 p.m., join Opera Saratoga at the Massry Center for the Arts at College of St. Rose in Albany for a free concert titled Refugee Voices. Building on themes explored in this summer’s production of “The Consul,” Opera Saratoga presents a special concert featuring music by refugee composers – artists who had to flee from their home countries due to religious or political persecution. Opera and song by Gaetano Donizetti, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Darius Milhaud, Paul Hindemith, Erich Koorngold, Irving Berlin, Béla Bartók, and Kurt Weill will be highlighted during this free event.
The finale of the summer concert series, Vienna, City of My Dreams, happens on July 12 at 7:30 p.m. at The Spa Little Theater. Tickets range from $40 to $80 as members of Opera Saratoga’s acclaimed Young Artist Program will be featured in this evening of Viennese operetta favorites, including arias and ensembles by Oscar Strauss, Franz Lehár, Emmerich Kálmán, Franz von Suppé, Leo Fall and more.
Edelson hopes Capital District residents will give opera a try, and experience one of the many Opera Saratoga events happening this summer. “There are as many different kinds of opera as there are movies – and we have something for everyone this summer,” Edelson said. He encourages newcomers to opera to choose the show with the story that sounds the most interesting to them. “Operas are really just stories told through song – great stories told through music, theater, dance and the wonderful visuals. It’s all encompassing! We have performers coming to Saratoga from around the world. The result is magical – and everyone can find a story in opera that will appeal to them!”
For more information about the upcoming Opera Saratoga events please visit its website: http://www.operasaratoga.org/
Emily Marcason-Tolmie, a Saratoga native, is a writer, researcher, wife and mother. Emily and her husband, Ryan, are the parents to two wonderful little boys, ages 4 and 1.