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Francesca Zambello on the Glimmerglass Festival

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The annual Glimmerglass Festivalon Otsego Lake, near Cooperstown, New York, has long mounted a vibrant four-opera summer season. But under Francesca Zambello, now in her fourth year as general and artistic director, it has broadened its purview to become an essential cultural destination. 

Q: How has the Festival evolved?

A: We’re adding a classic American musical to the mix—this year, Carousel—but performed unamplified with a full orchestra, as the composer intended. And as always, our opera lineup includes a popular favorite, something less familiar, and a contemporary work—Madame Butterfly, Ariadne in Naxos, and An American Tragedy, respectively.

Q: The last is based on the Dreiser crime novel?

A: Yes. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will give a related talk on law in the arts, as part of an extensive program of special events, cabaret performances, and master classes given by such greats as legendary diva Jessye Norman. 

Q: Are other local institutions involved with the Festival?

A: The Fenimore Art Museum will exhibit costumes from historic Metropolitan Opera productions of Butterfly, along with a marvelous show of Japanese woodblock prints. And Glimmerglass Young Artists will perform in concerts at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Q: Are you taking advantage of the region’s flourishing farm-to-table movement?

A: We’ve added more picnic tables to our 47-acre grounds and we’ll have food trucks featuring locally sourced gourmet fare. Something spiritual—almost mystical—happens when culture is experienced in such a beautiful, relaxed setting. 

Photo courtesy of Jamie Kraus/The Glimmerglass Festival

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