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The Short Version: The Glimmerglass Festival in Cooperstown, New York, is a one-of-a-kind summer event organized in celebration of the arts. Since 1975, the opera company has enthralled audience members with its outstanding annual performances of three operas and one musical. Over 350 talented individuals come together every year to create magic on stage and draw people into an unforgettable experience at the theater. You can attend a lecture, take a backstage tour, or take part in its community events to stimulate your mind and your senses alongside a date. The Glimmerglass Festival creates a low-key and fun-loving atmosphere where audience members are surrounded by romance and wonder.
When I was in high school, I would listen to the songs from “West Side Story” on a continuous loop while I did my homework. I was in love with the idea of falling in love, and the passionate works of Leonard Bernstein made me feel like romance was just around the corner — somewhere.
Since the musical tragedy premiered on Broadway in 1957, “West Side Story” has stirred the hearts of millions of romantics around the world. The musical, adapted from “Romeo and Juliet,” is a classic story of love and strife. That is to say, it’s a perfect choice for daters looking for an evening’s entertainment.
In the summer of 2018, the Glimmerglass Festival plans to give “West Side Story” an urban makeover with its innovative costume and set design. Though it’ll have a fresh look, the play will keep the original Jerome Robbins choreography and Lenard Berstein’s iconic songs. Couples can see this visually stunning revival by planning at date night at Cooperstown’s world-renowned opera festival.
The Glimmerglass Festival offers an array of engaging shows and opportunities to connect in its summer-long celebration of the arts. You can spend all day or all week taking in the beautiful New York scenery and enjoying original operatic performances put together by a team of 350 talented individuals.
Whether you’re watching Tony and Maria fall in love or taking a free backstage tour of the opera house, the Glimmerglass Festival offers theater lovers a chance to make a special memory with that special someone.
“I think going to a live theater event is really the best thing you can do on a date,” said Francesca Zambello, the Artistic and General Director at the Glimmerglass Festival. “It gives you something to focus on and something to talk about.”
For over 40 years, the Glimmerglass Festival has delighted locals and visitors with high-caliber performances. It began as an opera program at a local high school auditorium and soon expanded into a huge community event. Today, people come from all over the world to watch innovative stage productions and support up-and-coming opera stars.
The 2018 Glimmerglass Festival starts July 7 and ends Aug. 25. You can check out the calendar to find an opera, musical, behind-the-scenes tour, or another event that suits your interests.
From comedies to tragedies, the 2018 season lineup has a little something for everyone to enjoy. The Glimmerglass Festival typically features close to 80 performances, including three mainstage operas and one musical. This year, you can find everything from a WWI Christmas story to a modern take on “West Side Story.”
If you’re looking for a laugh, “The Barber of Seville” will be right up your alley. This opera tells the story of intrigue and romance as a young man takes on a series of disguises to seduce the woman he loves. Though the songs are in Italian, you’ll probably recognize the tune of its overture, which Looney Tunes adapted for its cartoons.
“Even if you’ve never seen the opera before, we make it very easy to understand and enjoy,” Francesca assured us. “There’s no dress code. You can show up in casual clothes like shorts and T-shirts.”
Couples can subscribe to the Glimmerglass Festival to reserve their seats at up to four live stage productions and receive exclusive discounts on ticket prices.
The Glimmerglass Festival provides a unique and intimate place to enjoy a show. The Alice Busch Opera Theater has 914 seats, all of which are less than 70 feet from the stage, so audience members can feel fully enveloped in the performance.
Francesca told us the Glimmerglass Festival aims to change the perception that the opera is stuffy and elitist by offering performances with supertitles — easy-to-read English subtitles — and a casual atmosphere at its lakeside theater. You can even bring your own drinks into the theater.
The stimulating environment presented by the Glimmerglass Festival helps spur conversations. Couples can learn about the opera together by attending lectures and Q&A sessions about specific performances.
The opera performances give audience members a chance to relax together as the drama unfolds. It’s easy to be swept up by the luxurious beauty of your surroundings and the echoing power of the performers’ voices.
During the intermission, you can get wine or a snack from the concession stand while stretching your legs and chatting about the performance. Many different people visit the opera to show their support for the arts, mingle with fellow theater buffs, and treat themselves to a world-class performance.
“A lot of single people come here,” Francesca said. “We try to create this environment where you can have fun on your own as well.”
The Glimmerglass Festival employs 20 full-time staff year round, but, as they gear up for summer, the team expands to include over 350 set designers, choreographers, actors, technical theater artists, administrators, and other professionals. Every year, they build all the sets and design all the costumes from scratch, so returning audience members enjoy a fresh look and original experience every time they visit.
Francesca said the team members tend to be young people in their 20s and 30s. “They’re at the beginnings of their careers,” she said, “so there’s this sense that you’re discovering a star.”
The dedication and passion of the team translates into an energetic and fun-loving atmosphere at the festival. “We love it,” Francesca said. “We’re committed to creating the best artistic experience possible.”
“Glimmerglass truly is a festival, a destination for anyone [who] loves music.” — Teresa K. in a TripAdvisor review
These customer-oriented team members are always willing to help with every last detail of your trip to the Glimmerglass Festival. “If you have problems getting a hotel, ask us and we will help,” Francesca said. You can also find information on accommodations on the website. Whether you’re interested in staying in a campground or at a bed and breakfast, Cooperstown has an array of options for couples on a weekend getaway.
Annbury said she has been visiting the Glimmerglass Festival for over a decade and gave it five stars on TripAdvisor. “Their programming has gone from strength to strength over the years,” she said.
Set in the idyllic countryside of Central New York, the Glimmerglass Festival has put Cooperstown on the must-visit list for many theater buffs and opera lovers. Throughout the summer, the town is a quiet and scenic place to take a date, enjoy a picnic lunch, and then catch a matinee or an evening performance.
Couples can come here to take a break from their everyday concerns and lose themselves in a moving opera or musical event such as “West Side Story.” The Glimmerglass Festival makes opera accessible to romantics of all ages and invites people to appreciate the unifying power of theater and celebrate the artistic community.
“People are drawn to it because we have a great ethos, a great spirit,” Francesca told us. “We try to make it really fun and give you a lot of intellectual and emotional content.”