For almost 60 years, Opera Saratoga has showcased operatic classics, contemporary American works and concerts featuring art song, opera and musical theater.
That run will be interrupted this spring and summer. Opera Saratoga announced Thursday morning the cancellation of its 2020 Summer Festival, originally scheduled to run from May 18 to July 5, due to COVID-19.
“As we have been monitoring the spread of COVID-19, it has become clear to us that proceeding with the festival is no longer possible,” said Artistic and General Director Lawrence Edelson. “From a practical perspective, with Saratoga and much of the country essentially shut down, it has become impossible for us to continue building the sets and costumes for the opera productions that were to premiere at Opera Saratoga this summer.
“We also had artists scheduled to join us from around the globe in early May to begin rehearsals, and it is clear that this is not realistic or prudent under the circumstances. The question is no longer how can we make this work — the question is how can we make sure everyone is safe. The answer, unfortunately, is to cancel the festival this summer.
“Our first responsibility must be the safety and well-being of our community, our audiences, our artists, and our staff. The entire Opera Saratoga family looks forward to sharing the joy and exhilaration of live opera and classical vocal music with our community when we know it is safe to do so again.”
Cancellation of the festival creates significant financial challenges for Opera Saratoga, said the company’s news release. Not only are all concerts and performances of “The Pirates of Penzance,” “Sky on Swings” and “Madama Butterfly” cancelled, but the company’s annual gala, Opera on the Lake — originally scheduled for June 7 — is being postponed.
According to the company, revenue during the spring and summer historically has totaled almost 70 percent of the company’s annual income. As the company works to raise the additional funds needed to bridge this difficult time, Edelson and the board of directors said they are committed to providing assistance to the over 100 artists, artisans, and technicians that were depending on the company for their livelihood this summer.
“While we are working to ensure that Opera Saratoga emerges from this crisis, we also have an ethical responsibility to do our best to help those who bring Opera Saratoga to life every summer,” Edelson said.
Opera Saratoga is asking everyone who has already purchased tickets to the 2020 Summer Festival to consider donating these tickets to be used to support the artists and seasonal staff most directly impacted by the cancellation of the festival. Opera Saratoga will be contacting everyone who has already purchased tickets to the festival to provide them with details about how they can convert their purchase into a tax-deductible donation; or, a full credit to their Opera Saratoga account for use on any future Festival ticket purchases — a value which will never expire. Ticket holders may also elect to receive a full refund.
Opera Saratoga staff is currently operating remotely, so the company requests that patrons not call the office at this time. Every ticket holder will be contacted personally over the next week.