SARATOGA SPRINGS — Lawrence Edelson, the artistic and general manager of Opera Saratoga, has a mission.
“The focus of the company in the past had only been on the summer season,” he said. “But I felt it important to provide access to opera throughout the year so that the summer season would be the culmination. We are the opera company of the Capital Region and I wanted to expand our civic footprint . . . to break down barriers.”
What he came up with three years ago was Saratoga Sings. The “outreach” would feature singers who came from the company’s Young Artist Program or perhaps even some of the principals from the summer productions who came for about a week to rehearse and perform music connected to a particular theme or the summer’s operas in a venue that could reflect that same theme.His first effort at the New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center offered music from that season’s “The Long Walk,” a military-based opera.
The concert was such a success that Saratoga Sings has grown to present singers at venues that include or have included Saratoga Springs’ 1st Night celebration, pubs, museums and theaters with this spring’s concerts scheduled every month.
The first two are Jan. 26 at the Parting Glass in Saratoga Springs and Jan. 28 at the Parish Public House in Albany. All the concerts are free.
Last October, singers also reached out through Saratoga Sings for Seniors in which vocalists sang for seniors at 12 local health care facilities, assisted living or retirement centers over a week-long tour.
“Our goal is to have a monthly presence. To provide access to music and to explore partnerships with venues that show off the uniqueness of the area,” Edelson said. “It’s also to help break down the walls of what people think of opera performances. It’s very user friendly.”
Consider a sample of the type of show people can expect for the January concerts.
The program is titled “Under the Influence,” which easily fits into a pub atmosphere. Soprano Keely Futterer, mezzo-soprano Edith Grossman, tenor Dylan Elza and bass Jorgeandres Camargo will sing about being affected by elixirs, poisons, magic spells and liquor in arias from such operas or Broadway shows as “The Abduction from the Seraglio” (Mozart), “Romeo et Juliette” (Gounod), “The Elixir of Love” (Donizetti), “Pal Joey” (Rodgers & Hart), and this summer’s production of “The Cradle Will Rock” (Blitzstein). Gloria Kim provides keyboard support.
The February date is still being confirmed. The March 18 date will not include singers but will be a free showing of the film “The Cradle Will Rock” (1999), a fictionalized account by Tim Robbins of how Marc Blitzstein developed his 1937 musical, which is based on America’s labor movement. OS will present a new production of the opera this summer.
The three April shows at local museums have the theme of “Art and Inspiration,” with arias and songs inspired by great artists and art.
Saratoga Sings is funded through private donors and a $17,500 grant from Opera America.
Jan. 26: Parting Glass, 40 Lake Ave., Saratoga Springs. 7 p.m.
Jan. 28: Parish Public House, 388 Broadway, Albany. 8 p.m.
March 18: Palace Theatre, 19 Clinton Ave., Albany. 2 p.m.
April 9: Hyde Collection, 161 Warren St., Glens Falls. 3 p.m.
April 11: Tang Teaching Museum, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs. 7 p.m.
April 13: Albany Institute of History and Art, 125 Washington St., Albany. 6 p.m.
HOW MUCH: Free
MORE INFO: 584-6018; www.operasaratoga.org