Cooperstown, NY: Basses Loaded

Opera Crossing from the parking lot to Glimmerglass Festival
(photo: JM Rothblatt)
Cooperstown, a bucolic destination merely two hours west of the Massachusetts border, is of course home to the Baseball Hall of Fame; its lesser known claim to fame: the annual Glimmerglass Festival of operas where the basses are always loaded (with talent, that is, as are the sopranos, tenors and baritones). This year's offerings ran the gamut from Rossini's seldom-heard Thieving Magpie to Puccini's popular and beloved La Boheme (inspiration for the musical Rent) to the relatively modern The Crucible (based on the Arthur Miller play) to the Sondheim work, Sweeney Todd.  All four can be seen over the same weekend, making for a true opera buffet.  And all four were beautiful to hear and see, with the exception of visuals of theTodd, with sets and costumes that almost detracted from the finest Anthony (Harry Greenleaf) and Joanna (Emily Pogorelc) ever.  The most memorable opera of the quartet was arguably The Crucible, which featured Jay Hunter Morris, whom Boston audiences were privileged to enjoy in Odyssey Opera's production of Die Tode Stadt last season.  Next summer's roster will include Oklahoma!, Xerxes, The Siege of Calais and Porgy and Bess. But sports fans and opera buffs have another treat in store in town, one they may easily share, a world-class museum.

The Fenimore Art Museum
(photo: JM Rothblatt)

That would be the Fenimore Art Museum (yes, that Fenimore, namely James Fenimore Cooper), an astonishingly unexpected treasure trove. In a single morning's visit, one could see several terrific temporary exhibitions as well as featured items from their incredible permanent holdings, most notably the Thaw collection of American Indian Art. The current temporary exhibitions include early works by famed photographer Ansel Adams, Shakespeare Theater Posters by Scott McKowen, an extensive display of Toulouse-Lautrec works, art by Lowell's own James Abbott McNeill Whistler, portraits of Native America Now, and New York Country Landscapes by Robert Schneider. There are historical displays including items pertaining to the Coopers, and a temporary exhibit of objects relating to Hamilton in the last days before his infamous end (of particular interest given the current Broadway show). All are beautifully displayed and organized in stunning galleries. The museum is complemented by its sister museum, run by the same folks, just across the street, The Farmers Museum, consisting of dozens of buildings brought to Cooperstown from towns all over New York State, including a working farm and a New York State inspired carousel.

A Lakota Painted War Hide, c.1880, Fenimore Art Museum
(photo: JM Rothblatt)

Thus it's plain to see that one could spend a fruitful long weekend in this charming town where it's easy to touch all the relevant bases.

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