Francesca's Traveling Ipad

Your 'hot spot' for all classical music subjects. Non-classical music subjects are to be posted in the Corner Pub.

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lennygoran
Posts: 15831
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: new york city

Francesca's Traveling Ipad

Post by lennygoran » Sat May 09, 2020 7:02 am

Nice to see the bluebird houses mentioned-we have an active bluebird couple in our garden-our treeman built a birdhouse for us-now he has an idea for a screech owl house. Anyway it's always nice to read her messages. Len

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Greetings from the past and new present
This was a huge week for us. I have some interesting stories for you today, but before I dig in, I want to express my personal sadness regarding the necessary decision to cancel the 2020 Festival. I trust you all received our message or read the news earlier this week. It was very difficult for us to arrive at this conclusion, but it was the right thing to do to protect everyone’s health and keep us all safe. Although the State is working on a reopening plan, Governor Cuomo has announced that attractions that draw a large number of visitors from outside their local areas will not be permitted, so this became a linchpin in our decision as well. On behalf of the entire staff and our Board of Trustees, I want to express our deepest gratitude to everyone who is impacted by this cancelation for being so understanding, and for the many warm and supportive conversations and messages we’ve received. I want to thank the amazing year-round staff, who immediately embarked on the yeoman's task of communicating with all of our artists, seasonal employees, business partners, ticket holders, donors and funders. We have begun developing programs to bring to you this summer, and we will be doing all we can to keep you involved. We are putting a particular effort into creating master classes and mentoring opportunities for our Young Artists, apprentices and youth performers, while dedicating ourselves to preparations for 2021. We are proceeding with cautious optimism. Many of you told us how you had held onto the hope that we would be able to proceed as normal — or something like normal — and how you would always be there for Glimmerglass. This means so much to all of us.



One more moment of gratitude. I also want to extend a special thank you to our Board of Trustees and Chairman, Robert Nelson. Not-for-profit Board members are volunteers who have many demands on their time, in addition to their commitments to their organizations. Since late March, our trustees have been arm-and-arm with us at every turn to help us think through all of the ramifications of proceeding or cancelling. There are endless details to consider, and it was with their input and guidance that we hope we have considered everything that needs to be addressed. By the time we all met on May 1 to reach our decision, we had determined that we would offer ticket holders either a refund or the opportunity — for those who are able — to convert their ticket purchases into donations. On that fateful final day, I put forth a proposal to the Board to join my wife, Faith, and me in establishing a matching challenge fund to encourage ticket donations. I am so proud that we were able to raise $500,000 among us during that first weekend in May to establish this challenge, and it has thus far been very successful. We know not everyone is in a position to donate the value of their tickets, and we are equally appreciative to those friends for their loyalty and understanding of our circumstances. I want to give a round of applause to our Board for inspiring those patrons, who were and are able to help, to take this extra step.


A sentimental journey into the distant past. Glimmerglass’ beloved maestro, Joseph Colaneri, and I first worked together at the New Jersey State Opera many years ago, at the beginning of our careers. The company was run by the Italian conductor, Alfredo Silipigni. He was a debonair gentleman, with a pencil-thin Mediterranean moustache, who always wore sleek-fitting Italian suits and drove around in (I think) an Alfa-Romeo sedan. Of course, two young Italian-American kids like Joe and myself fit in beautifully.

Green as I was, I was thrown into a professional whirlwind. We were charged with producing operas at an extraordinarily fast and furious pace. My job as the assistant director was to work with the director and stage manager to make sure that everyone and everything was happening as intended. At Glimmerglass and elsewhere, we rehearse for weeks to perfect the music and storytelling; back then, we had just a few rehearsals, and we were “on.” We worked with outstanding artists, but many of them were Italian or German and did not speak English. (In those days, visas for foreign artists were easily obtained. It’s quite different now.) We would put on two performances of an opera in Newark, and then take the entire company to Trenton for another round. Newark had a very large Italian population, and they loved their opera. You could hear it loudly each evening in the cacophonous responses — positive AND negative!

Me, back then, in Newark. A touch of Gina Lollobrigida in my fur?? I actually borrowed this coat from a famous diva.
And now...Joe's recollections of the same time. He writes: One of the most important things that a young artist can do is establish a lifelong network of mentors, teachers and colleagues. As you move through your career, they become your artist colleagues and friends — those with whom you share your earliest experiences and with whom you often continue to collaborate throughout your career.

One of my earliest artistic experiences was as chorus master and assistant conductor of the New Jersey State Opera, a “traditional” company founded in 1964 by conductor Alfredo Silipigni operating out of Symphony Hall in Newark, N.J. Regional companies like this one afforded an invaluable opportunity for young artists to cut their teeth on standard repertoire and production styles. In January 1980, two emerging artists took up positions as assistants to early mentors — I, to Maestro Silipigni and Francesca Zambello to stage director, Nathaniel Merrill. The production was Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor starring the wonderful soprano Cristina Deutekom. Sets were old-style representational painted drops, often rented together with the costumes. The chorus (rehearsed a few weeks in advance) was a mix of intrepid and enthusiastic volunteers combined with seasoned New York professionals; the orchestra was a committed and loyal group of freelancers. What was utterly remarkable was the speed at which the productions were put on — 10 days total from the first musical reading with the principal cast to the single performance at Symphony Hall. In between, the orchestra was rehearsed, the cast and chorus were staged (three days — one act per day!) followed by two orchestra dress rehearsals and, of course, a day off. This working style was often disparagingly referred to as “instant opera” and to be sure, we all felt mightily pressed to get all the elements of a complex opera production ready in time.


But this hyper-speed production style taught us, as young assistants, that preparation on our part had to be thorough; there was no time to “feel your way through.” You arrived on day one and were expected to produce whatever was needed, immediately. This was a wild rollercoaster ride for operatic twenty-somethings — scary, yet completely exhilarating when it would all come together, especially working with some of the legendary singers, like Birgit Nilsson, James McCracken, Gilda Cruz-Romo and Adriana Maliponte. Not only did we learn the crucial importance of preparation, we also did all the stage jobs: assistant director, stage manager, chorus master, assistant conductor, stage band conductor, note taker. But through it all, we began to learn our craft, bit by bit. During rehearsals at Glimmerglass, Francesca and I often look back on those days and ask, “How did we ever do it?” The answer is what it was then: we acknowledge the care and the example of our early mentors along with our own desire to create the best opera possible. And now we pay it forward to the next generation, just as the tradition was passed on to us.

Every day since we’ve been working apart, Wyatt Nyman, our Assistant Technical Director, sends the staff an email with the subject line, “Your Moment of Zen.” Within is a link to a YouTube video of something brief and entertaining — ranging from the super silly to the deeply touching — along with an inspirational quote from a famous person that connects in some way to the content of the video. I am going to steal Wyatt’s idea to distract you for a moment with this fun picture, taken at the entrance to our costume shop. The shop is in the green barn, overlooking the lake behind our theater. (You can see its large round silo from afar; more on that in a future Traveling iPad.) Some years ago, this “troll garden” was established, and among the first signs of spring (note the blooming daffodils) are the signs of safety first: custom-made masks for trolls!
More on what our staff are doing to aid the cause. A couple of weeks back, I gave you a glimpse of what some of our staff are doing to help support health care providers and the public. That round I focused on our mask-making, and today I want to shine a spotlight on Glimmerglass staff members who are also EMTs and First Responders. These include our Director of Production, Abby Rodd, and Technical Director, Ross Rundell, both First Responders, or EMRs, for the Town of Springfield, where the opera house is located. Abby and Ross are taking their EMT tests this month, and Abby explained that the difference between an EMR and EMT is roughly 100 more hours of class time — in other words, much more intensive training. Abby signed up originally because, as she says, she wanted to give back to the community. On top of that, she adds, “Each summer I was finding that I was always involved when we had patron or staff illnesses/accidents, and I thought that having some training would be better than having to pace around while waiting for the volunteer EMS department to arrive.” Molli McCarty, who has worked with us in concessions every summer for over 20 years, is a Springfield EMT. Jeremy Bostwick, our Assistant Facilities Supervisor, is a U.S. Air Force veteran and an AEMT (advanced EMT) for nearby Richfield Springs. While we are in at-home mode, Jeremy has gone downstate to help provide support to the health care workers there, who are so overwhelmed. He wrote to us from the City: “I came downstate as an EMT because I want to be where I think I can do a lot of good. I became an EMT to help those who can’t help themselves. I chose to volunteer for deployment to NYC as an EMT for the same reasons I was in the military — to serve and protect the people of the USA whenever and wherever needed to the best of my abilities.” He sent his wishes to everyone to “Stay Safe, Stay Strong.” We are extremely proud to have Abby, Ross, Molli and Jeremy on our staff, and echo Jeremy in asking them — and all of you — to stay safe and strong.

But wait...there's more. Abby is a member of PMF — Production Manager Forum, a group of production professionals in theater, academia and opera, who get together to share ideas and concerns. The impact of COVID-19 has naturally entered their conversations. She forwarded a link from a recent meeting to her husband, Joel Morain, who is also one of our carpenters and is our A/V Coordinator. Joel explains what came next:

“There was a company looking for help producing ‘intubation boxes.’ These are aerosol shields that doctors can use when placing a patient onto a ventilator. When inserting a breathing tube, the patients are usually sedated, but can (understandably) involuntarily cough. By providing a clear shield around the patient’s head, it helps contain any contagion within the box and keeps the medical team much safer. The boxes can be disinfected after the procedure and used again on the next patient. I thought this was something I could tackle, so I scrounged for scraps in the prop loft of our scene shop that would be big enough to make parts. I fabricated one prototype and delivered it to Bassett Hospital. They looked it over, liked what they saw, and suggested a few upgrades. With the remaining scrap pieces, I implemented their suggestions, and was able to produce four more for Bassett.
Joel completed 60 boxes a week ago, and was sent enough plastic to do 70 more. The shapes are cut out on his CNC (Computer Numeric Control) router.
“About a week later, a friend from Hamilton contacted me. They had heard about my boxes and wanted to hook me up with a local designer/contractor who wanted to start building boxes, too. He had set up a Facebook page to help raise funds for materials and was able to find and order some plastic. (This is getting very hard to do as EVERYBODY is trying to order plastic for shields in grocery stores, gas stations, pick up windows.) I collaborated with this guy, and with suggestions from some of his medical contacts, we were able to create an even better version. I’m drawing and cutting all the parts, and I designed and made some jigs for bending and assembly. I am doing this in my Springfield shop [a mile up the road from the scene shop, which is closed]. His team is handling the assembly and distribution out of his shop in Hamilton.”

Amazing!


'For the birds' encore. Speaking of Joel, you may recall that back in March, I wrote about another COVID project of his — birdhouse kits for children in the community to make with their families while sheltering-in-place. These can now be spotted hanging all over the county. On the heels of that story, I wrote that, for the first time in my life, I had hung bird feeders outside my house. I received an overwhelming response! Several of you have graciously sent me books to study, and others sent their thoughts on seeds that are apparently particularly yummy. One local reader even visited me (socially distanced) and installed three bluebird houses on our property, which are now already occupied! (Clearly there was a housing shortage.) Inspired, I am listening to Puccini’s opera La Rondine (The Sparrow) as I write.

Rome! A photo for his fans. The aftermath of snow was lots of mud. 'Tis now the season of paws-cleaning.
"5 Minutes That Will Make You Love Opera." Lilting along, I was honored to be invited to contribute to this fun feature in the New York Times, which appeared at the end of April. Being a “Z,” I am at the very end of this illustrious group! I am sorry Glimmerglass was not referenced, but it’s a great piece that I think you will enjoy if you hadn’t seen it.
Ramping up for spring in Central New York

I am thrilled that ramps are now everywhere. Here is a fresh bunch I picked, sitting on my AGA, the woods where I gathered them, and a photo by my friend, Erica Iverson, who made this beautiful ramp pizza.
Ramps grow all over Central New York, usually at the edge of woods, and can be found by their bright green tops of two leaves. If you want them to keep growing, leave one leaf intact in the ground. Ramps are like baby garlic, but more pungent. Try these suggestions, or mix them into a spring salad with arugula and spinach.

Scrambled eggs and ramps. I like to pick them on an early morning walk, and then bring them in for a breakfast of scrambled eggs and ramps. Just trim off the bottom roots and then sauté them — cut up or left whole. Whip up your eggs with some salt and pepper, and throw them on top of the sautéed ramps. Scramble until the eggs are done to your liking and the ramps are all mixed in.

Pesto and pizza. If you want to spend a little more time and make a nice ramp sauce that is good with poached chicken or on pasta as a kind of pesto, use them the same way you would basil to make your pesto sauce. Yet another option is a ramp pizza. Again, sauté your ramps and bake on top of pizza dough as my friend Erica did. I sometimes make mini ramp pizzas-for-one. I just love to take advantage of their availability at this time of year.
Re-imagine. Earlier this week I mentioned we are taking this time to re-imagine, to create new content, and to arrive in 2021 even stronger. We will be back…even better…and we are optimistic that we will be able to do so because of all the support and love we have been receiving from all of you. Thank you, over and again for being part of the Glimmerglass family.

Gratefully yours,
Francesca Zambello

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