On the evening of October 18, The Friends of Opera Saratoga hosted a public conversation between Executive Director of Opera Saratoga, Lawrence Edelson, and the CEO and President of Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), Elizabeth Sobol, in SPAC’s Gold Room in the Hall of Springs. Patrons of the two organizations, as well as a handful of Skidmore College students interested in arts administration and management, nibbled on light refreshments and drinks while Edelson and Sobol discussed some of the successes and lessons from the 2018 season, the intricacies of programming and funding, and what initially brought them both to Saratoga. “One of the first people I met when I moved here was this guy,” Sobol said pointing to Edelson. “We had lunch at the Thirsty Owl, and if I had any doubts about finding anyone in Saratoga to work with with, they were gone when I met Larry.” SPAC and Opera Saratoga have been in partnership for two decades, and the latter has been staging opera productions at the Spa Little Theater for as many years (it was previously known as the Lake George Opera).
Some of the most exciting news to come from the evening’s discussion was specifics on Opera Saratoga’s 2019 season (SPAC recently released its own schedule for next summer). Opera Saratoga will be rolling out two classics, as well as staging two newer productions, including a world premier. It’s part of Sobol and Edelson’s dual effort to add more contemporary pieces to classical music programming. “I really believe we need to be continually infusing the repertoire with new work,” said Edelson. Sobol concurs: “A performing arts center of our size and stature must be commissioning new works. That’s where the sparks fly.” The world premiere will be Ellen West, with music by Ricky Ian Gordon, along with a libretto featuring the poetry of Pulitzer Prize winner Frank Bidart. This brand of new work explores the emotional, psychological and physical challenges facing a woman as she struggles with negative perceptions, both personal and social, over her body.
Opera Saratoga will also have the honor of presenting the East Coast premiere of Chicago-based Manual Cinema‘s innovative and visually stunning production of Hansel and Gretel by 19th-century German composer Englebert Humperdink (not to be confused with the English pop singer). This reimagined Hansel and Gretel will feature shadow puppets, colorful projections and silent movie imagery, as well as guest voices from the Glens Falls Symphony Children’s Chorus.
Opera Saratoga’s slated classics won’t disappoint either. Expect a charming production of The Daughter of the Regiment by Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti. This popular opéra comique about love between a handsome soldier and tomboy raised by an army regiment, has not been performed by Opera Saratoga in two decades. And there will also be a staging of Mozart and Salieri, the thrilling Russian opera by composer Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov with a libretto based on the play by the Russian Romantic poet, Alexander Pushkin. The original play, published in 1832, was the inspiration for the Academy Award-winning film Amadeus (which was originally a play as well). The opera will also be preceded by a number of arias composed by Mozart and Salieri.
Even though fall’s in full effect and winter’s right around the corner, next summer’s season is in sight. Mark your calendar: From June 29 to July 14, make sure your opera glasses ready; it’s going to be another unforgettable season at Opera Saratoga and SPAC.