Glimmerglass Opera Home Page

Glimmerglass Opera
Cooperstown, NY

Company History

To produce new, little known, and familiar operas and works of music theater in innovative productions which capitalize on the intimacy and natural setting of The Alice Busch Opera theater, to promote an artistically challenging work environment for young American performers, and to engage important directors, designers and conductors who provide high standards of achievement. -- Company Mission Statement

Main IndexCompany History

Lizzie BordenGlimmerglass Opera opened its first season in the summer of 1975, when three performances of LA BOHÉME were staged in the auditorium of the Cooperstown High School. Since that year, when 1,200 local residents attended, Glimmerglass has grown to international stature, with an audience of 36,000 in the 1997 Festival Season. The community continues its support through the Opera Guild, a volunteer group which assists the company with numerous fund-raisers and special events.

Photo: Glimmerglass Opera, Cooperstown, NY -- 1996 Festival Season. LIZZIE BORDEN -- Jack Beeson. Director -- Rhoda Levine. Set Designer -- John Conklin. Costume Designer -- Constance Hoffman. Elizabeth Borden -- Phillis Pancella. Margret Borden -- Margaret Lloyd. Photograph by George Mott.

The Alice Busch Opera Theater, which opened in June 1987, has since been home to more than 40 different productions presented by Glimmerglass Opera, including the world premiere of A QUESTION OF TASTE, commissioned from William Schuman (1989), the American premiere of Mozart's IL RE PASTORE (1991) and, in 1993, the world-premiere production of David Carlson's THE MIDNIGHT ANGEL, co-commissioned and co-produced by Glimmerglass with Opera Theatre of St. Louis and Sacramento Opera. Located along the shores of Otsego Lake, the "Glimmerglass" of James Fenimore Cooper's LEATHERSTOCKING TALES, the theater is set on 43 acres of farmland donated by the late Glimmerglass board chairman emeritus, Tom Goodyear, and his mother, Jeanette Bissell Goodyear. The 920-seat opera house was designed for the specific needs of opera by Hugh Hardy of Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates, with acoustics by Peter George Associates. Unusual sliding walls, which allow the audience to enjoy fresh air and breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside prior to the performances, are another unique aspect of the theater.

Glimmerglass Opera has attracted superior directors, designers, and conductors as well as accomplished performers from around the world. Jonathan Miller, Mark Lamos, Martha Clarke, Francesca Zambello, Simon Callow, Robert Wierzel, Michael Yeargan, David Daniels, Phyllis Pancella, and Lauren Flanigan are among the directors, designers, and singers whose work can be seen at Glimmerglass. With Music Director Stewart Robertson and Director of Productions John Conklin, these talented artists meet the highest artistic standards of the company.

Photo: Glimmerglass Opera, Cooperstown, NY -- 1996 Festival Season. LA FINTA GIARDINERA -- Wofgang Amadeus Mozart. Director -- Mark Lamos. Set Designer -- Michael Yeargan. Costume Designer -- Susan Hilferty. Arminda -- Sondra Radvanovsky. Il Contino Belfiore -- William Burden. Photograph by George Mott.

The Young American Artists Program, established in 1988, brings exceptional young singers in the first stages of their professional careers to study and perform in the creative and demanding atmosphere of Glimmerglass. These artists, many of whom hold degrees from such prominent conservatories as Yale University, Boston University, Oberlin, and the Eastman School of Music, are chosen annually from several hundred applicants from around the United States. At Glimmerglass this summer each will appear in a mainstage production and give a solo song recital in Cooperstown.

Glimmerglass Opera is also playing an increasingly prominent role in the musical life of New York City. In January 1996 its acclaimed 1994 production of Monteverdi's L'INCORONAZIONE DI POPPEA was presented at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in five sold-out performances.

Don PasqualeThe company's ties to New York City were further strengthened when Paul Kellogg, General Director of Glimmerglass Opera for seventeen years, was named General Director and Artistic Director of New York City Opera in early 1996. As he remains Artistic Director at Glimmerglass, the two companies have formed a partnership which saw four Glimmerglass productions join the New York City Opera repertory in the 1997-98 Season.  All four operas presented by Glimmerglass during the 1998 Festival Season are produced in association with New York City Opera, and continuing collaborations are planned.

Photo: Glimmerglass Opera, Cooperstown, NY -- 1996 Festival Season. DON PASQUALE -- Gaetano Donizetti. Director -- Leon Major. Set and Costume Designer -- Allen Moyer. Don Pasquale -- Kevin Glavin. Photograph by George Mott.

Glimmerglass has also been fortunate in the recognition it has received from important sources of funding. In 1992 the National Endowment for the Arts awarded Glimmerglass a $650,000 Challenge Grant for the expansion of its artistic programming over a four-year period. The successful completion of this matching campaign has enabled Glimmerglass to maintain its commitment to presenting innovative and unusual repertory. In 1997 the NEA awarded Glimmerglass an additional $100,000, the second-largest grant given by the Endowment to an arts organization in New York State outside of New York City. Also in 1997 the company received more than $100,000 in funding from the New York State Council on the Arts, including a $50,000 challenge grant for the development of its educational and community outreach programs.

La CalistoThe unspoiled beauty of upstate New York's rural landscape provides what The Sunday Times of London has called "the most magical of settings" for Glimmerglass performances. The Glimmerglass experience--an informal picnic with friends on the grounds of The Alice Busch Opera Theater, a leisurely stroll along the lake, champagne under the bright summer stars, and music/theater of international reputation--is unique in the realm of opera.

Photo: Glimmerglass Opera, Cooperstown, NY -- 1996 Festival Season. LA CALISTO -- Francesco Cavalli. Director -- Simon Callow. Set Designer -- John Conklin. Costume Designer -- Gabriel Berry. Calisto -- Lisa Saffer. Giove as Diana -- Christine Abraham. Mercurio -- Eugene Perry. Photograph by George Mott.

"In its chosen domain, and with no fuss whatever, one of the great American achievements."
--John Russell Travel & Leisure

"Opera on a level of taste, imagination and musicality that would do any of the world's most celebrated opera houses proud."
--Time Magazine

"Glimmerglass Opera is more than ever an irresistible part of American musical life."
--The Economist

"This rural upstate oasis of lakeside charm, history, art and baseball has become the ideal spot for opera-going in the U.S"
-- The Wall Street Journal

Main IndexThe Glimmerglass Opera Home Page is guide to Cooperstown's organizations and activities.

The Glimmerglass Opera Home Page is a co-production of Glimmerglass Opera and The Cooperstown Network.   Copyright 1998, Glimmerglass Opera, Inc.