When Artistic and General Director Lawrence Edelson first joined Opera Saratoga, the regional company was somewhat of a fixer-upper. “The company was experiencing some challenges and we made some changes to our programing strategy,” Edelson says. “We’re doing much more to engage with audiences.” Under Edelson’s leadership, Opera Saratoga just finished its third consecutive year in the black. Year-round activities and new programs, including a performance of The Ugly Duckling that reached over 15,000 children at 50 schools across seven counties, have enhanced the company’s presence and support throughout the Capital Region.
Now Opera Saratoga is gearing up for its most ambitious season yet. This year, it will host the American premiere of Rocking Horse Winner, a play based on a short story by D.H. Lawrence that won five Dora Awards after its debut in Toronto. The story follows a boy who discovers that he can predict which horses will win at the track. “It’s an exciting story that I think local audiences will really get into, and it deals with the motivations behind gaming and gambling and really ties into our local passion for thoroughbred horse racing,” Edelson tells me. Rocking Horse Winner will be featured at Opera Saratoga as part of a double bill; the other half of it, Vinkensport, is based on true stories about a Flemish sport called “finch sitting,” a dog-show-like competition but for pet birds. Much like the popular mockumentary Best in Show, Vinkensport is a tongue-and-cheek retelling of the extreme lengths that competitors will go to get an edge on their competition.
Edelson says that unconventional operas like Vinkensport could be an entry point for people that may not have had a good experience with opera in the past. “There are as many types of opera as there are types of movies,” Edelson tells me. “So with our season, we try to present a variety of operas so that there’s something for everyone’s taste.”
While Rocking Horse Winner and Vinkensport are both geared towards mature audiences, Edelson says that Opera Saratoga’s new production of The Merry Widow, a waltz-driven, widely beloved operetta, will be popular with family members of all ages. Last but not least, The Consul, Opera Saratoga’s final summer must-see, is a tried-and-true Pulitzer Prize-winning political thriller that premiered on Broadway in 1950.
For more information about shows, tickets and dates, click here.