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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 5, No. 9

A Look at Opera Festivals

by Pierre M. Bellemare / June 1, 2000

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Sad to say, only one Canadian summer music festival currently includes a significant number of staged operas. This is Festival Vancouver (www.festivalvancouver. bc.ca) in August, which features Monteverdi's Orfeo, the earliest great classic opera; Curlew River, one of Britten's three one-act "church parables" for an all-male cast; and Leslie Uyeda's Game Misconduct, the Canadian premiere of a work set against the unlikely backdrop of a hockey game.

Canadian music lovers from southern Ontario or Quebec looking for summer opera will have to go south. Within 300 km or less of both Montreal and Toronto there are no fewer than three opera festivals, all in upstate New York.

The Lake George Opera Festival in Glens Falls and Saratoga Springs (www.lakegeorgeopera.org or P.O. Box 2172, Glens Falls, NY 12801, phone 518 587-3330), will feature Mozart's Così Fan Tutte and Cimarosa's The Secret Marriage in late June and early July, followed in late August by Puccini's Madama Butterfly.

Not far from Buffalo and relatively near Toronto, the Chautauqua Institution offers its own opera festival (www.chautauqua-inst.org, or P.O. Box 28, One Ames Avenue, Chautauqua, New York 14722, phone 1 800 836-ARTS or 716 357-6250). It features four major operas: Puccini's La Rondine (July 7 and 10); Richard Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos (July 21 and 24); Rossini's Barber of Seville (August 4 and 7); and Kurt Weill's Street Scene (August 18 and 21). The timetable prevents visitors from a distance hearing more than one opera during a short stay, but there are many other cultural events available.

Last but not least is the Glimmerglass Opera Festival (www.cooperstown.net/ glimmerglass, or Glimmerglass Opera Festival, 18 Chestnut Street, Cooperstown, New York 13326, phone 607 547-2255 ). Cooperstown (home of the Baseball Hall of Fame) is a comfortable drive from Toronto and Montreal. This comparatively young festival has gained an international reputation due to the high quality of its productions, its magnificent setting (the Alice Busch Opera Theater alone is worth the trip!) and its close association with the New York City Opera. As usual, its program has plenty of scope: a popular warhorse (Puccini's La Bohème; a baroque work (Handel's Acis and Galatea); a 20th century classic (Richard Strauss's Salome); and an American opera. This year's "patriotic" choice is a rare production of a forgotten light work from the turn of the century, John Philip Sousa's The Glass Blowers. The four operas are performed ten or more times throughout July and August, enabling visitors to see most or all of them in the space of a few days.

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