Sad news for Capital Region opera fans. Opera Saratoga announced today (April 9), that due to concerns over the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, it would be cancelling its 2020 Summer Festival. Originally scheduled to run from May 18 through July 15, the 2020 Summer Festival included all of Opera Saratoga’s scheduled performances for the year plus the company’s popular annual gala, Opera on the Lake, which for now has been postponed.
“As we’ve been monitoring the spread of COVID-19, it’s become clear to us that proceeding with the Festival is no longer possible,” says Lawrence Edelson, Opera Saratoga’s artistic and general director. “From a practical perspective, with Saratoga and much of the country essentially shut down, it’s become impossible for us to continue building the sets and costumes for the opera productions that were to premiere at Opera Saratoga this summer.”
Opera Saratoga’s 2020 Summer Festival was set to include performances of operatic classics such as Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, as well as the New York State premiere of Sky on Swings, which had its world premiere at Opera Philadelphia in 2018 and explores two women’s descent into Alzheimer’s Disease. The festival schedule was also set to include the company’s now-postponed summer gala, which was originally scheduled for June 7. Revenue from the spring and summer season regularly accounts for nearly 70 percent of Opera Saratoga’s annual income. “While we’re working to ensure that Opera Saratoga emerges from this crisis, we also have an ethical responsibility to do our best to help those who bring Opera Saratoga to life every summer,” says Edelson about the company’s many artists and seasonal workers. “COVID-19 has not only endangered the health and lives of millions around the world, but it has also hit the arts sector particularly hard.”
To that point, the local opera company is asking patrons who’ve already purchased tickets to consider donating them in support of Opera Saratoga’s furloughed artists and workers. Edelson says that Opera Saratoga will be contacting ticket-holders to determine if they want to turn their purchase into a tax-deductible donation or receive a full credit to their Opera Saratoga account. Fulls refunds are also available upon request.
“Though we’re having to make difficult decisions right now, we are doing so to make sure that everyone is safe,” says Edelson. “Opera Saratoga will be ready to create transformative and vital experiences, creating connection and community through the power of opera, when these challenging times have passed.”