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: 15961
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: new york city

Francesca's Traveling Ipad

Post by lennygoran » Sat Jul 11, 2020 6:38 am

Another nice message from Glimmerglass's Francesca. Regards, Len

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Greetings from the virtual stage

I often go for walks on the hill across the road from the opera house. It’s a beautiful spot, and the theater looks as if it’s nestled in a vale in a storybook illustration. Thursday was to have been opening night, and this serene view would have been peopled with picnickers, theater-goers, staff scurrying about, golf carts ferrying folks to and fro, artists in the dressing rooms or dressed for a night out among the audience.
Instead...that evening we began our series Glimmerglass Glimpses, which you can now find starting at 5:30 p.m. Thursdays on our website or YouTube. If you missed it, here is a link to this past Thursday’s segment. 2020 Artists in Residence, Bill Burden and Isabel Leonard, along with our Artistic Advisor Eric Owens, and soprano Alyson Cambridge (Julie in Show Boat) each performed a special “opening night” selection that was personally meaningful to them. I also previewed a bit of what’s to come, which will include a performance by Alyson of William Bolcom and Sandra Seaton‘ s beautiful song cycle, From the Diary of Sally Hemings; an animated music video on Die Feen; and a Schubert cycle sung by Ryan McKinny (Dutchman in The Flying Dutchman and Billy Bigelow in Carousel), which he filmed here! (That’s him pictured below, formally dressed, of course, in a rowboat on Otsego Lake, in a montage of moments from last Thursday’s video.) This coming Thursday, please tune in for our second of three Virtual Town Halls. This round the topic is “Never Again?” which will explore how stories from the past shape the future. Special guests include Holocaust survivor Tana Ross and Alexander (Xan) Karn, Associate Professor of History and Director of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program at Colgate University, my alma mater.

Summer = training. Anchoring each summer are our professional education programs for Young Artists and production, theater crafts and arts administration interns. I’ll fill you in on how we are working with our interns next time, but today I’ll share with you a little bit about what we are doing this year for the Young Artists who would have been here this summer. This past week we began virtual classes and coachings with the 53 members of the 2020 class. Although they will not be receiving all they would have benefited from during a normal season, our artistic department has developed a robust summer of virtual education for them. Master teachers include our Artists in Residence, Isabel Leonard and Bill Burden, plus Gordon Hawkins, Renée Fleming, myself, our maestro, Joseph Colaneri, and more. Each artist's specific needs will be addressed through individual coachings and guidance, and you will see some of them in our “Glimpses.”

I wish I had a Zoom screenshot for you! (Next time.) Their summer program began on Monday, with an orientation, preceded by a welcome from me. Seeing their faces, their excitement and their willingness to try something new was inspirational and gave me glimmers of hope about the future. In addition to our American artists, the 2020 class includes young talent from India, Columbia, China, South Korea and Canada. Along with the notable master teachers who have signed on, I am personally looking forward to giving my own classes. I teach something called “Beyond the Notes,” which is really about how to prepare for a role before you actually get into rehearsals. When one works with young artists, much of the music they focus on is Mozart or Handel or Rossini. The great thing is that so many Baroque and Classical period operas are based on thrilling works of literature or historical occurrences. It is exciting to watch someone dive into Beaumarchais’ great trilogy, or to witness a young singer realize that Figaro was a revolutionary, and that these operas speak to the need for social change in the times when they were written — making them highly relatable to today’s interpreters and audiences. In my welcome comments, I emphasized how, by developing their skills, artists can look to ways to use their art to better lives and help build a dialogue among disparate people. This first week also included coachings with Bill and Isabel, and a Q&A with Gayletha Nichols, Director of the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program for Singers and Past Executive Director of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. All-in-all a great start. More to come as the summer unfolds.
A ray of hope over the lake the last week of June. This rainbow also feels like a serendipitous tribute to the close of Pride month. Photo: Faith Gay
So near and yet so far. I have often traveled east on U.S. Route 20 to Albany and beyond, but less frequently taken the westerly route. Route 20 — once known as the Cherry Valley Turnpike — grew over time to span the entire country, from Boston to Newport, Oregon. Wikipedia claims it is the longest road in the United States, running 3,365 miles. It is a main thoroughfare right here, just three miles north of the opera house, and it fronts many of our satellite properties, including our rehearsal hall and several of our dormitories. Someday I would love to drive the entire length of it and dip into towns, large and small, as I traverse the continent. This past week, my wife Faith and I hopped onto Route 20 heading west and went the farthest from home than I’ve gone in almost four months. I’ve barely traveled 15 minutes in either direction since mid-March. I have spent a lot of my time cooking (three meals a day), shopping online, helping our son, Jackson, with his virtual schooling, etc., while simultaneously conducting my professional life from home. For some this is not novel, but for me it is the longest I have been in one place in my entire adult life. Regular readers will know that these Traveling iPads are so-named for a reason. I will say, though, that this lifestyle has its pluses.

Venturing out. So last week, Faith and I drove to Auburn, NY, approximately 100 miles west of here, depending if you take Route 20 all the way (least miles, but slower) or I-90. I had commissioned a quilt maker/designer to make a special gift for Faith for her birthday, and it was finally ready to be picked up. Auburn is a charming, medium-sized town (pop. 27,000) right on Route 20, and known for many things, ranging from a maximum-security correctional facility to the Tiffany interior of the Willard Memorial Chapel. Most importantly, as attested to on the city’s historic road sign, is that it was where Harriet Tubman lived in the latter portion of her life, and where she is buried.

Harriet Tubman's life in Auburn. We very much wanted to visit the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park, but it is unfortunately closed in response to COVID restrictions. We look forward to a return with Jackson when it is open, but I did manage to get these few pictures. The Park includes her last residence, the Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged and the Thompson A.M.E. Zion Church where she worshipped. I found a beautiful and quite moving recent video online, narrated by the Rev. Paul Gordon Carter, who is the Resident Manager of the Harriet Tubman Home. The 4-1/2-minute video describes the importance of the property and Harriet Tubman’s contributions better than I ever could, so I urge you to click on this link. I found Rev. Carter’s concluding comments particularly moving; he said Harriet Tubman was “a woman who believed in living for a cause, rather than just living be-cause.”

At rest. Near the Park is the historic Fort Hill Cemetery, where Harriet Tubman is buried. As I stood by her gravestone, I thought of all she had endured, seen and contributed. She died in 1913 at the age of 93, and what she achieved in her life is such a strong testament to the human spirit. Also buried in the Fort Hill Cemetery is William H. Seward, who served two terms as Governor of New York, was a State Senator, and was the Secretary of State from 1861-1869. As cited in Wikipedia, Seward was a “determined opponent of the spread of slavery,” whose Auburn home was a haven for fugitive slaves. “He signed several laws that advanced the rights of and opportunities for Black residents, as well as guaranteeing fugitive slaves jury trials in the state. The legislation protected abolitionists, and [Seward] used his position to intervene in cases of freed Black people who were enslaved in the South.” It was Seward who helped Harriet Tubman purchase her home in Auburn. As I gazed at both of their resting places, I wondered if their spirits meet on this hill or if that only happens in operas?

The Fort Hill Cemetery land is also rich in Cayuga Native American history. It was the site of a Native American fort, which I plan to research.
While in Auburn we also visited the Willard Chapel which, according to the Chapel’s website, “is an extremely rare example of the work of Louis C. Tiffany and Tiffany Glass and Decoration Co. in that it is the only complete and unaltered Tiffany chapel known to exist. Included in the Tiffany interior are 14 opalescent windows, a rose window, a large figure window, nine Mooresque-styled chandeliers, memorial tablets of glass mosaic tile and gilt bronze, furnishings of oak inlaid with metal and glass mosaic, a ceiling with gold leaf stencils and mosaic flooring." The chandeliers and interior floor mosaics made me think of San Marco on the Piazza in Venice. We were not allowed to photograph anything but the exterior, so I suggest you, too, consider visiting Auburn to see the chapel and, importantly, the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park when it is re-opened.

The wisdom of cooking with sage. On our porch I have grown several pots of herbs. I am not a gardener — others do it so much better so I let them do it — but I like having herbs handy to snip while I am cooking. Anyone can grow a porch pot and it will embellish all you cook. Today I thought I would focus on sage. Aside from having such a great name, like many herbs, it’s known for its medicinal properties. The sage is beautiful in the pot right now, so I tried an experiment (in the recipe below). Before we get to that, I also suggest you make one of the easiest Italian recipes with sage. Brown some sage with unsalted butter, but keep it limp, not crunchy, then add pine nuts. Then toss the mixture with any cut pasta and top with fresh Parmesan cheese.
Bravissimo!
Hush, puppy…

Hush Puppies with Sage

Here is a hush puppy recipe I embellished with sage from my porch pot. Do you think the name came from cooking them and throwing them to make a dog stop barking? I can only imagine Rome would want to come back for more and not be quiet.

¾ cup cornmeal
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ onion GRATED
1 egg beaten
½ cup buttermilk
Vegetable oil for frying
Any spices you like: I focused on my fresh sage, but you can use Cayenne pepper, regular pepper, parsley, garlic scapes, cilantro...you get the idea….

Combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. In another bowl whisk together onion, egg and buttermilk. Then stir in the dry mix and sage or your choice of herbs and spices. In a Dutch oven or deep frying pan heat 2 inches of oil to 375 degrees (use candy thermometer). Important trick — use two spoons to drop batter into the oil. One to make the little ball and one to gently push it into the oil. It will sink and then rise. Fry for roughly three minutes a side. Then dry on a paper towel, keep warm in the oven and eat with fried fish or chicken, or just as an appetizer. You can dip these in any sauce: ketchup, tarter, hot sauce, Asian mix….but what makes your hush puppies special are the herbs or spices you choose from at the start.

We are still going strong. If you have not yet seen this week’s Glimmerglass Glimpse, please don’t forget to check it out, and I hope you look forward with anticipation to the new offerings that will become available Thursdays through August 25. These, our professional education work, and our planning for the year ahead are ways we are keeping the Festival and all you love about it going as we pause normal operations. If you are able, and if you have not done so already through the donation of your tickets or annual fund, please consider a contribution to help us through this exceptional time.

With continued gratitude for being part of the Glimmerglass family,
Francesca Zambello

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