Opera Saratoga’s Bremen Town Musicians: Take Up Music!

John Davies | Brothers Grimm


11:00 am • Saturday, March 25th 2017
Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library • Clifton Park, NY

3:00 pm • Saturday, March 25th 2017
Saratoga Springs Public Library • Saratoga Springs, NY

Increasingly the default forms of entertainment for children are primarily television, video games and the Internet. This is, perhaps, also true for a number of older “kids.” So, this Saturday, encourage yourselves and your children—or grandchildren or neighbor’s children—to “power down” and check out Opera Saratoga’s Opera-to-Go new production of The Bremen Town Musicians. There are two performances … one in the morning (Clifton Park) and another in the afternoon (Saratoga). Both performances are offered to the public with no admission charge as Opera Saratoga and libraries have secured a mixture of public and corporate funding to enable it to be so.

Do you know what, I am going to Bremen and am going to become a town musician there. Come along and take up music too. I’ll play the lute, and you can beat the drums.” — General Boom

In this version of The Town Musicians of Bremen, the beloved Brothers Grimm folktale has been adapted into a delightful children’s opera by distinguished American bass-baritone John Davies. Using music by Jacques Offenbach, Gioachino  Rossini, Gaetano Donizetti, Sir Arthur Sullivan, and Giuseppe Verdi; Davies has created a fun and engaging work that is ideal for children in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. The story brings together a small cast of characters:

        • Eddie Pensier ……. A singing rooster with artistic aspirations
        • General Boom …… A retired Army donkey and percussionist
        • Barcarolle ………… An old dog and best friend of Dorabella
        • Dorabella …………. An old cat and best friend of Barcarolle

The performers are Laura Zahn (Barcarolle), Nick Yaquinto (General Boom), Hannah Goodman (Dorabella), Max Zander (Eddie Pensier), and pianist Cristina Dinella.

If you’ve forgotten how the tale goes, here’s a brief (adapted) synopsis:

BremenTownMusiciansEddie Pensier is chased away from his farm for waking the barnyard with tenor arias. On the very same day, Barcarolle and Dorabella are cast out by their owner for being too old to catch rabbits and mice. The three animals run into the woods near the road to Bremen where General Boom is marching along playing his drum. He’s on his way to Bremen to begin a new band. As each of the runaways cross the General’s path, he invites them to join his band. They have plans of their own, however, and decline the invitation.

The woods surrounding the Bremen Road are filled with uncertainty. Eddie, Dorabella and Barcarolle become lost and argue angrily until General Boom hears their shouting and rescues them. With rumors of robbers all about and night approaching, they accept the General’s suggestion to overlook their differences, join his band and march to Bremen. But, can the four very different creatures band together before pirates steal their instruments?

Of course, you know I’ll tell you that you’ll have to power down, go and engage in order to find out.

On a serious note, as extremes have been put forth to cut … yes … totally eliminate federal cultural agencies and thus funding (which then translates to state level funding) for cultural programs such as Opera Saratoga’s Opera-To-Go, here’s a good example of what’s at stake:

Each year, Opera Saratoga tours an Opera-to-Go production to more than fifty public and private schools throughout the greater Capital and lower Adirondack regions of NY, western Massachusetts, and southern Vermont. The performances feature charismatic professional artists who love to share their joy of music and theater through the opera, as well as through question and answer sessions where students have the opportunity to meet the artists and learn about the music and what it takes to put on a performance.

Certainly, there is more than The Bremen Town Musicians on the chopping block. Much of the programming that “we” adults benefit from—in more ways than simply enjoying ourselves—and the economic stimulation that takes place around each one of our cultural happenings will be detrimentally harmed. At serious risk are the cultural organizations such as Opera Saratoga that directly engage and enlighten those who come behind us. These are the organizations and programs that provide the “spark” to curiosity and nurture creative thinkers and collaborators, which are so vital to science, math, and technology as well as our social health. So…  before I get off my soapbox, I’ll extend a gentile reminder to call your representatives in Washington, D.C..

OK … getting off my soapbox…. Thank you for listening.

Go forth … power down and engage! Here’s wishing you a bountiful weekend of happy musicking, hopefully with someone(s) of the younger generation.

(click image below to view a Spectrum News clip on Saratoga’s Opera-To-Go in the schools)


Upcoming Events

  • Met Opera Live: Idomeneo | Mozart, Varesco
  • Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington, MA
    Wednesday, March 29th 2017 at 1:00 pm

  • Met Opera Live: Idomeneo | Mozart, Varesco
  • Time & Space Limited*, Hudson, NY
    Saturday, April 1st 2017 at 1:00 pm

  • Union College Concerts: Mitsuko Uchida, pianist and Jörg Widmann, clarinet | Brahms, Berg, Widmann, Schubert, Schumann
  • Union College Memorial Chapel, Schenectady, NY
    Saturday, April 1st 2017 at 3:00 pm

  • Auriel Camerata: Choral Music of Antonín Dvořák
  • Church of the Immaculate Conception, Glenville
    Saturday, April 1st 2017 at 7:30 pm

  • Friends of Chamber Music: Juilliard String Quartet | Mendelssohn, Davidovsky, Beethoven
  • Kiggins Hall, Emma Willard School, Troy, NY
    Sunday, April 2nd 2017 at 3:00 pm

  • Hudson Valley Philharmonic with violinist I-Jung Huang | Tan Dun, Adams, Brahms
  • Bardavon, Poughkeepsie, NY
    Saturday, April 8th 2017 at 8:00 pm

  • Union College Concerts: Eric Lu, piano | Mozart, Schubert, Chopin, Prokofiev
  • Union College Memorial Chapel, Schenectady, NY
    Thursday, April 13th 2017 at 7:30 pm

  • UAlbany Performing Arts: “Latin America in Song” | Ortega, Lifchitz, Turina, and more
  • University at Albany Performing Arts Center, Albany, NY
    Tuesday, April 18th 2017 at 7:00 pm

  • Troy Chromatic Concerts: Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio | Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky
  • Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy, NY
    Sunday, May 7th 2017 at 3:00 pm