The Seagle Music Colony is gearing up for its 100th year celebration next year, but this summer’s offerings will have all the excitement audiences have come to expect.
“It’s always a puzzle to put a season together,” said general director Tony Kostecki, “but this year we chose two musicals that were on Broadway and two operas.”
The Colony, which was spotlighted in an article in the June issue of Opera News, is famous for presenting young singers still in school or just beginning their professional careers. This past spring, Kostecki and artistic director Darren Woods, who also heads Fort Worth Opera, went to six cities to hear up to 400 singers.
“We pick the best of the best. And Darren probably heard another 100 singers on his own,” Kostecki said. “We chose 32 singers.”
He and Woods pick shows that give each of the singers a featured role as a way to further their training while entertaining the audience.
All 32 singers are being featured in a sold-out performance tonight, titled “Old Friends and New.”
Lerner & Loewe’s 1960 Broadway hit musical “Camelot” runs July 2 through July 5. Based on the tale of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table, the tunes will have audiences humming for days, Kostecki said.
Seagle Music Colony
-- Lerner & Loewe, “Camelot”: 8 p.m. July 2, 3, 5; 2 p.m. July 5
-- Rossini, “The Italian Girl in Algiers”: 8 p.m. July 16, 17, 19; 2 p.m. July 18
-- Floyd, “Susannah”: 8 p.m. July 30, 31, Aug. 2; 2 p.m. Aug. 1
-- Bernstein, “West Side Story”: 8 p.m. Aug. 13-16; 2 p.m. Aug. 15
WHERE: Oscar Seagle Memorial Theater, 999 Charley Hill Road, Schroon Lake
HOW MUCH: $30, $20 (12 and under) for “Camelot” and “West Side Story.” $25, $15 for “The Italian Girl in Algiers” and “Susannah”
MORE INFO: 532-7875; www.seaglecolony.org
It is the first time the show has been done at the Colony, and the performers need to use heir acting and dancing skills, and to sing non-operatically.
Paired with this show is Bernstein’s “West Side Story,” which runs Aug. 13 through Aug. 16. Adapted from the Romeo and Juliet tragedy, the 1957 musical marked a turning point in the Broadway musicals by introducing dark themes that focused on social issues, more sophisticated music and extended dance sequences, Kostecki said.
The 1961 film version won 10 Oscars. The dance scenes to Bernstein’s offbeat, jazzy rhythms will prove the greatest challenge for performers.
“The singers will have to learn how to dance,” Kostecki said. “We’re having Susie Theil from last season’s musical do the choreography and teach them.”
Each summer an opera from the standard repertoire is given. This summer it’s Rossini’s “The Italian Girl in Algiers,” July 16 through July 19. It will be sung in Italian with supertitles.
Written by the 21-year-old Rossini in 1813, the comic opera has a array of characters that include a Bey of Algiers, pirates, servants and several women striving for love. Roles require a flair for comedy, a strong vocal range, and facility in Italian.
“It’s similar to ‘Barber of Seville,’” Kostecki said. “It has some great leading mezzo roles. Some of our mezzos are returning and we wanted to feature them.”
Since 1996 when Woods and Kostecki first arrived at the Colony, an American opera has been presented most seasons. This summer it’s Carlisle Floyd’s “Susannah,” which opens July 30 and runs through Aug. 2.
Floyd, who is 88, was a pianist before becoming interested in composition while he was still on the faculty at Florida State University. Later, he taught at the University of Houston, where Woods, a student there, met him.
In 1955, “Susannah” premiered at FSU and the next year had its debut at the New York City Opera. In 1958, the opera represented American music at the World’s Fair in Brussels and has since become the second-most performed American opera behind Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess,” Kostecki said.
The libretto, which Floyd wrote, is loosely based on the Apocryphal tale of Susannah and the Elders with touches from the McCarthy era. Many of the gorgeous, soaring melodies were borrowed from Appalachian folk melodies and Protestant hymn tunes. The opera, which has never been done at the Colony, will stretch the singers’ vocal and dramatic skills.
“It’s a wonderful opera and has a lot of singing,” Kostecki said. “We have several returning artists and we’re doing it for them.”
For the Rossini and Floyd operas, pre-show talks will be given one hour before curtain time.
You can see the singers for free at traditional Vespers Concerts at 5 p.m. on July 27, Aug. 10 and Aug. 17. A free children’s opera, Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel,” will be given at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on July 12 at the Schroon Lake Boathouse Theater.
The annual Patrice Munsel Gala will be July 12 with dancing and silent and live auctions. Tickets are $160.
The summer music revue of “Side by Side by Sondheim” is July 24-25 at Schroon Lake Central School. Tickets are $25, $15.
Several shows are already nearly sold out.
“Since I’ve been living here all year round since 2008, it’s really raised awareness,” said Kostecki, who is the president of the local chamber of commerce. “We’re still off the beaten path [and only a little way] from being off Broadway.”