Carren's Pitch

Life by Design


Music & Nature

Posted by Carren |

When I drove through this area, I finally understood why so many painters have been drawn to landscapes. Golden fields, green grass swaying in the wind, charming country houses. They all seem to be there. The effect was enchanting. Add a little music to this idyllic scene and you have Glimmerglass Opera. It's a ways away from the bustle of New York City, but I hope some of you get the chance to experience the unique spell of opera amid the countryside.

Many thanks to Brittany Lesavoy, who provided these photographs in behalf of Glimmerglass Opera! Much luck in the coming season!

Get a whiff of fresh air and beautiful music at the Glimmerglass Opera
Text by: Carren Jao
Published: MEGA November 2009

Nestled between the Adirondack and Catskill mountains on Otsego Lake in Upstate New York, the Alice Busch Opera Theater blends in with the idyllic pastoral scenery. Golden fields all around it wave at the sun whenever the wind blows, giving a laidback cadence to life, but this gently undulating pace is often broken as cars zoom past the highway and stop right where the theater is.

For those visiting for the first time, the Alice Busch Opera Theater can easily be dismissed as yet another farmhouse on the highway. In fact, in another lifetime, it was a turkey farm. In 1987, this turkey farm was converted to house what was to be one of the world’s renowned summer opera companies—Glimmerglass Opera.

Grace Anderson, writing for Architectural Record in 1988, wrote of the Alice Busch Opera Theater, “…architect Hugh Hardy devised a modest steel-panel building that is exactly the size and shape it had to be and no more.” No sign announces your arrival to Glimmerglass, just a beige and cream edifice with clean lines and a multicolored flag in front. Only a glimpse of the ticket station in front leaves a clue to the world-class opera company inside.

Yet despite lack of signages, opera lovers from all over the globe descend upon this area just outside of historic Cooperstown, also home of the Fenimore Art Musuem and the Baseball Hall of Fame. They are there because it is once again the Glimmerglass Festival, where celebrities and young opera talent of opera are showcased in 40 performances of four productions each season.
They come because they know that unlike the megalithic edifices of the Metropolitan Theater in New York (seating capacity: approx. 3,800) or Sydney Opera House (seating capacity: approx. 2,600 for its concert hall), the Alice Busch Opera Theater gives them the rare chance to get up close and personal with a storied art form.

The theater only seats 900 or so patrons. Without microphones, opera stars stride confidently out onto the stage, letting the strength of their voices carry out in the night air. During intermissions, the theater rolls back eight 16- by 24-foot steel doors to bring in a fresh new breeze. Here, there is no climate control, there is only the warm blanket given out ahead of time.
Take time before the performance and you will find yourself pleasantly occupied by the beauty of the landscape. Stroll around the 25 acres of farmland. Treat yourself to a gourmet picnic by Black Cat Café on the shores of Otsego Lake, the “Glimmerglass” of James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales. If you have time, take in a short lecture by Glimmerglass’ music experts at the Preview Pavilion, adjacent to the theater. Or, get even closer to opera celebrities by attending the cast party held at the Thaw Pavilion.

Unlike, metropolitan opera theaters, a trip to see the Glimmerglass Opera isn’t just an in and out affair. Guests are invited to linger, to fall under the spell of good music and good food, heightened by the cool breeze of the fresh country air. Straddling the cosmopolitan and the rural, Glimmerglass Opera successfully lures all her guests to stop and stay a while.

Glimmerglass Opera's Alice Busch Opera Theater
7300 State Highway 80, Cooperstown, NY 13326
(607) 547-0700

Best time to go:

The Glimmerglass Festival runs from July to August every year. Their 2010 season line-up will run from July 9 to August 24, 2010. It features Puccini’s Tosca, Copland’s The Tender Land, Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, and the American professionally-staged premiere of Handel’s Tolomeo.

How to get there:
The Alice Busch Opera Theater can be accessed from nearby New York cities airports:

From Albany:
Albany International Airport
(518) 242-2200

From Syracuse:
Hancock International Airport
(315) 454-4330

From New York City:
New York City is a port of entry and is accessible by John F. Kennedy International airport and LaGuardia Airport.

Getting Around:
It’s best to rent a car once you get your chosen New York city. The Cooperstown area is pastoral and has no form of mass transportation, except for a city trolley.

Bed and Breakfasts abound in the area. Staying in these places add charm and an Old World feel to your opera experience.

What to do:
Other sights are also nearby the theater: the Fenimore Art Museum, the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Ommegang Brewery.

For more detailed information on transportation, accommodation and activities, check


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