Summertime Vacation Destinations for Enjoying Opera, Part 3 – the 2013 Glimmerglass Festival

The East Coast’s major summer operatic experience is the 44-year Glimmerglass Festival, located on Lake Otsego in the scenic rural Finger Lakes region of central New York state.

Beginning in Summer 2011, Francesca Zambello assumed the job of Artistic and General Director of the festival, that has has lured opera goers to the Cooperstown, New York area for over four decades [See my interview at Born to the Theater: An Interview with Francesca Zambello.]

For Zambello’s third Glimmerglass Festival season, four opera evenings are presented in rotation: “The Flying Dutchman”, “Camelot”, a themed double bill titled “Passions” and “King for a Day”.

Zambello’s personal project is a new production of Richard Wagner’s “Flying Dutchman” in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Wagner’s birth. In celebration of the 200th anniversary of Giuseppe Verdi’s birth, the composer’s undervalued comic opera “King for a Day (Un Giorno di Regno)” will be presented in an English translation [See Ryan McKinny, Melody Moore, Jay Hunter Morris Soar in “Flying Dutchman” – Glimmerglass Festival, July 18, 2013.]

[Below: the Dutchman (Ryan McKinny, left) receives the promise of fidelity from Senta (Melody Moore, right); edited image, based on a Karli Cadel photograph, courtesy of the Glimmerglass Festival.]


For this year’s Glimmerglass Festival salute to the American musical theater, Nathan Gunn (Lancelot), Andriana Churchman (Guinevere) amd David Pittsinger (Arthur) in Lerner and Loewe’s “Camelot”.

The fourth performance is a double bill whose overarching title is “Passions”. It features a 18th century work, Pergolesi’ “Stabat Mater”, which was created during the final months of the life of the 26 year old Italian composer, whose fame was based on creating one of the earliest comic operas. Pergolesi’s work is paired with Lang’s “The Little Match Girl”, an award-winning 21st century work, that finds religious significance in Hans Christian Anderson’s sad tale of an impoverished girl who freezes to death on Christmas Eve.

During August, most weekends, in addition to the scheduled performances of the featured works, have an afternoon or evening special event, that include a Wagner concert by dramatic soprano Christine Goerke, a Verdi concert by bass-baritone Eric Owens and the Glimmerglass Apprentice Singers, and a concert by Nathan Gunn, with piano accompaniment by his wife Julie. [For my report on a previous concert, see More News from Glimmerglass – the Festival Part 1: Nathan Gunn and the Annie Get Your Gun(n) Hoedown – August 12, 2011.]

The Glimmerglass Festival is one of the premiere summertime American operatic experiences. It offers high quality, theatrically absorbing operatic fare. Reviews of each of the scheduled offerings of the 2013 season will appear on this website over the next few days.

Cooperstown and the Finger Lakes

The Glimmerglass Festival, located midway on the Western shore of Lake Otsego, one of the narrow glacier-carved lakes that are a feature of Central New York. Glimmerglass is historically tied to Cooperstown, a small community on Otsego’s Southern shore.

Cooperstown is the community made famous by James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales (which include The Deerslayer, The Pathfinder and The Last of the Mohicans), and by Abner Doubleday and the Baseball Hall of Fame.

[Below: Cooperstown, New York on Lake Otsego; edited image, based on a promotional photograph, from]


A few miles North of Cooperstown on New York Route 80, on Lake Otsego’s Western shore, are the theatrical venues and pleasant surroundings in which the Glimmerglass Opera (which Zambello has rebranded as the Glimmerglass Festival, the name that henceforth will be used on this website) presents its summer fare.

The name “Glimmerglass” itself is a reference to Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales, a term he uses to describe Lake Otsego, one of the New York’s 12 “Finger Lakes” that three centuries ago were the battlegrounds of the Huron and Mohican warriors so important to the Leatherstocking sagas.

When planning a visit to the Glimmerglass Festival, consideration should be given to securing accommodations. There are several “bed and breakfasts”, some highly rated by various websites. The region’s major hotel is the upscale and expensive Otesaga Hotel (one of the rare American hotels that offers only American plan rooms.)

[Below: the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown; resized image from]


During any weekend, available rooms may be scarce. But “Induction Weekend” when the Baseball Hall of Fame honors the year’s new inductees into baseball’s pantheon, rooms might be impossible to find. 


For information on a summer opera festival held concurrently in the Southwest, see: Summertime Vacation Destinations for Enjoying Opera, Part 2 – the 2013 Santa Fe Opera Festival.