With the appointment of Francesca Zambello, an internationally acclaimed opera director, Glimmerglass is hoping, it seems, for a metamorphosis of sorts. Zambello has cleverly shifted the musical focus, creating some fresh perspectives, and ultimately hoping to draw more attention to this company which is widely regarded as an Upstate New York musical gem.
Ah, the tone of a production. Was Schumann right when he quoted Schlegel at the top of his score to the Fantasie this way: “Through all the world’s dream there sounds one tone for him who can hear it?” I’m thinking now of many different pieces — Our Town of Thornton Wilder, first. This concentrated text has the bareness, the emptiness of Greek tragedy on the page. The actions, however, are humble. Is there a single tone there?
In a year that has seen several stellar productions of Thorton Wilder’s Our Town (for example, Walking the Dog Theater at PS21, and the Williamstown Theater), perhaps it is a necessary corrective to experience Copland’s subtle and discomfiting The Tender Land. Copland’s collaboration in the 1940 film version of the Wilder classic has helped to promulgate the myth of a gingham-and-apple-pie-innocence as the psycho-social basis of the Rural American Gothic. As beautifully Transcendentalist as Our Town is in depicting the ethos of a 1900s New England town, the darker, narrow-minded qualities of insularity should not be overlooked.