I’ve communicated with Brittany Lesavoy, the Director of Public Relations at the Glimmerglass Opera in Cooperstown, NY, so often over the past few years that is was a pleasure to finally meet her when Greg Keeler and I drove up to record a series of interviews about the Glimmerglass season.
I don’t know what most people think opera singers are like in real life, but I suspect there is a caricature of the Maria Callas type, who came off as aloof and imperious (mostly because of her shyness and bad eyesight). Or maybe people have heard the stories of bad behavior by the likes of Kathleen Battle. I have not had that experience. Maybe I speak “opera singer” particularly well, but I find them smart, down-to-earth and a lot of fun to talk to. If you can listen to these interviews, I think you’ll agree with me.
We began with Tosca, and I spoke with tenor Adam Diegel, director Ned Canty, and soprano Lise Lindstrom. After last season’s controversial production of Tosca at the Metropolitan Opera I was interested in finding out if Glimmerglass would stage its own “high concept” production. The director and the singers agreed that Puccini is so specific in the music that accompanies the stage directions that going too far afield hobbles the dramatic effect. Singing those roles is hard enough, but they are also very demanding from an acting standpoint, not to mention the sheer physicality of the roles. In the interview Adam speaks about how difficult it is to face a firing squad, even knowing that they aren’t real rifles, and then have to lay motionless on the stage while the rest of the drama takes place.
For The Tender Land I spoke with soprano Lindsay Russell, conductor Stewart Robertson, and director Tazewell Thompson. This is about as different an opera from Tosca as you can imagine. It was inspired by photographs of the Midwest during the Great Depression and is about small town life, small events in everyday life, and the equally deep emotions those small town people experience. Originally written for television, Aaron Copland had to revise the production for it to work in a large theatre, as opposed to television close-ups. Singers from Glimmerglass’ Young American Artists Program comprise the entire cast.
The interview for Tolomeo came as a big surprise for me. This is the first professional staging of this Handel opera in the United States, and it is rarely performed elsewhere. Research I did on it hinted at a very complicated and serious plot, and apparently, I was wrong. Director Chas Rader-Sheiber, countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo and soprano Joelle Harvey explained that Tolomeo gives plenty of laughs. Listen for plenty of laughs in the interview, too (scheduled to air Friday, July 16th around 9:30 a.m.).
Because the cast of The Marriage of Figaro were in rehearsal, I didn’t get to speak with them, but it gave me a chance to have an interesting and wide-ranging discussion (scheduled to air Thursday, July 15th around 9:30 a.m.) with General and Artistic Director Michael MacLeod who leaves Glimmerglass at the end of this season after five years on the job.
Visit our website for these and other Local Arts Interviews.