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The Sembrich Celebrates its Centennial Season

Exactly 100 years ago this year, internationally renowned Polish soprano Marcella Sembrich (1858-1935) opened a teaching studio in a Spanish revival building on a 55-acre estate on the shores of Lake George. A former member of the Juilliard Graduate School and Curtis Institute of Music faculties, Sembrich had performed in the Metropolitan Opera’s first season in 1883, and in 1925 began welcoming students to study with her at her lakeside property. She hosted students each summer holiday until her death in 1935, when her daughter-in-law preserved a 4.5-acre parcel of her estate containing the studio. It was opened as a memorial to Sembrich in 1937, and since then has grown into a unique cultural experience that welcomes world-famous artists and exhibits to Bolton Landing for a summer-long festival.

And its centennial season festival is poised to be the best one yet.

“We’re so excited to celebrate this monumental year with a spectacular lineup of concert artists and exhibitions,” says Caleb Eick, Director of Institutional Advancement at The Sembrich. “The festival is in full swing, and our next event is a program we’re co-presenting with Opera Saratoga called A Juneteenth Celebration. Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Anthony Davis, whose opera X: The Life and Times of Malcom X just premiered at the Met this past fall will appear in a special studio talk discussing his journey in opera.” In that program, Davis will also treat audience members to a piano improvisation and discussion of his works. The program is—yes—on Wednesday, June 19, the Juneteenth holiday!

The festival features more than 20 events and runs from June 5–August 31. Other notable events going on this summer include the woodwind quintet WindSync presenting Peter and the Wolf, a family concert in Bolton Landing’s Rogers Park on July 25; From Steam Launch to Stucco, a presentation and tour centered around the architecture of Sembrich’s studio and the across-the-street property “Pine Hill” on August 2; Composers Sembrich Knew, an evening of chamber music by members of the Philadelphia Orchestra on August 4; the world premiere of At That Hour, Act One, a chamber opera composed by Richard Wargo on August 24; and the Chopin by Candlelight gala, featuring dozens of candles surrounding a piano and nothing but Chopin on August 31.

Before all that, though, comes A Night at the Museum, an exclusive, one-night-only evening offering a glimpse into the Gilded Age life of Marcella Sembrich by way of rarely displayed possessions including a diamond tiara and a gold bracelet from the Czar of Russia. “We’re also unveiling the Queen of the Night costume worn by Marcella Sembrich at the Met in 1900,” Eick says. “Last year we were able to raise $70,000 to bring this exquisite costume back to displayable condition and preserve it for generations to come.” The event, which has been dubbed the museum’s centennial benefit, is on Thursday, July 11.

And let’s not forget this season’s new exhibition: Mastering Mozart, which will showcase four Mozart opera roles that propelled Marcella Sembrich to fame, featuring photographs, musical scores and costume pieces—including 130-year-old bolero jackets and the aforementioned Queen of the Night costume. Make the short trip up the Northway to see the exhibition any day now through October 14.

One hundred years in, The Sembrich shows no signs of wavering on its mission. “We want to continue to grow and continue to engage with our community while preserving the artistic legacy of Marcella Sembrich,” Eick says. “As the world changes around us, we want to continue offering a glimpse into the rich cultural and musical history of Lake George, Bolton Landing, and the entire Adirondack Region.”

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