SARATOGA SPRINGS — Opera Saratoga is bringing the “idealism and extreme optimism” of Miguel de Cervantes’ “Don Quixote” to some of Spa’s most beautiful outdoor spaces.
The local opera powerhouse will perform three works from the iconic work during the summer months. The first in the line up, “Quixotic Opera,” is scheduled for June 24 and 25 at 7 p.m. These performances include a concert of scenes from other operas inspired by Cervantes’ novel, presented at Pitney Meadows Community Farm. The second, which is in partnership with Saratoga Performing Arts Center at its amphitheater, is “Man of La Mancha” and will boast showings on July 8, 9 and 10 at 8 p.m. The last, performed at the Columbia Pavilion at Saratoga Spa State Park, is “Don Quichotte at Camacho’s Wedding,” which will host 12 performances from July 14 to July 18 at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Opera Saratoga artistic and general director Larry Edelson said adapting these performances to outdoor venues requires some extra finessing due to the different acoustics present.
“We hired a sound engineer and designer for these performances to help us provide the best experience possible,” Edelson said. “We have amplification that we use for these classically trained singers and we will definitely be using it for the SPAC shows.”
Edelson said the use of amplification techniques (and how each show is adapted to the acoustics of its surroundings) is determined during test runs of the show. Despite the challenges going outdoor presents for the genre, Edelson said he’s excited to be able to perform to a larger audience in a safe, socially distanced way.
“The enormous size of the SPAC amphitheater will allow us to welcome socially distanced audiences as well as to stage ‘Man of La Mancha’ with all necessary safety protocols in place, incorporating vivid projection design to enhance the production; while the more intimate spaces in Spa State Park and at Pitney Meadows Community Farm will allow for safe gathering of smaller audiences in covered, open-air venues that allow us to draw upon the natural beauty and intimacy of these unique spaces,” Edelson said in a press release.
Edelson and his team look forward to the future of Opera Saratoga. As restrictions loosen and more people are vaccinated, the reality of the group returning to its home in Spa Little Theater becomes more viable. He added it’s not sustainable for the program to continue drawing 25 percent capacity, as ticket sales only provide 25 percent of the production’s revenue during non-COVID times.
“This pandemic has really forced us to look at everything we do,” Edelson said.
He added the support of the community that keeps Opera Saratoga prosperous and alive has been the most heartfelt thing about the past 14 months. As Opera Saratoga is the same age as Caffe Lena and older than SPAC, the reputation of the performers can be felt for miles beyond the Capital District’s borders.
“Opera Saratoga wants to continue to provide entertainment and uplifting experiences for its guests and add to Saratoga’s amazing cultural landscape,” Edelson concluded, “and to feel the optimism from the community during this has kept us optimistic about the future.”