Francesca Zambello at Glimmerglass
Photo by Claire McAdams


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High Marks for Calais at Glimmerglass (Geraldine Freedman, The Albany Daily Gazette, 7/18/2017)

"Glimmerglass Opera gave two matinees in the last few days that riveted capacity crowds. On Sunday, it was the American premiere of Gaetano Donizetti's The Siege of Calais...Zambello was inventive with her blocking, which was very effective. "


Francesca Zambello Makes a Great Case for Donizetti's Forgotten Work (Francisco Salazar, OperaWire, 7/25/2017)

"Audiences that dare to venture are in for a treat...With Francesca Zambello's realistic production and Leah Crocetto and Aleks Romano's lush voices, one hopes this opera will gain traction worldwide, eventually playing at some of the most renowned theaters in the world."


A Musically Appealing, Theatrically Arresting Siege of Calais (, 7/20/2017)

"The 2017 Glimmerglass Festival has taken on a challenging project, breathing life into a 181-year old Donizetti opera that had virtually disappeared from performance in Europe and had never been performed in the United States...Francesca Zambello, the Festival's artistic and general director, demonstrates how one can time-shift a mid-14th century story-line into the 21st century without the change seeming contrived or inappropriately anachronistic. Zambello's staging proved to be persuasively dramatic, well-paced and absorbing...Zambello has the theatrical savvy to unlock the dramatic elements of Donizetti's own approaches to the Italian opera conventions of his day. She, for example, stages the strettas and cabaletta verse repeats ­ that many directors routinely cut ­ in impressive ways that move the action forward. James Noone's sets, which suggest the shambles that would result from a modern day siege, effectively represent Zambello's intentions...I enthusiastically recommend this cast and production of The Siege of Calais both for the opera veteran and the person new to opera."


American Masterpiece Conquers Cooperstown (James Sohre, Opera Today, 8/23/2017)

"If anything is more all-American than baseball, it just might be Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, which scored a triumphant home run for the Glimmerglass Festival. Francesca Zambello has had considerable success staging the piece for other notable companies, and as evidenced by this richly detailed production, she has honed her insights to a finely polished interpretation. Ms. Zambello occasionally likes to flavor her operas with musical comedy flair and it does not go amiss here...Ms. Zambello's Catfish Row is peopled by a bustling, believable vitality that communicated a powerful sense of community...Francesca has built strong individual characterizations with each cast member, and has nurtured relationships that are marked by honesty and clarity. The sense of directorial focus and readily comprehensible storytelling that emerge out of this rich mosaic of dramatic moments is nothing short of brilliant...The enduring popularity of Porgy and Bess combined with the lovingly staged, magnificently performed production at hand deservedly made it a sell-out success."


Porgy and Bess at Glimmerglass (Joseph Dalton, WAMC, 7/20/2017)

"From start to finish the new production of Porgy and Bess at the Glimmerglass Festival is a strong and handsome evening of music and theater.  The show is full of beautiful music and has more than a few hit songs by George Gershwin.  Conductor John DeMain keeps things moving.  And with typical good taste and efficiency, director Francesca Zambello has things moving to the right places...Seated in the opera house, one could feel physical jolts as the thunderstorm in the second act rolls in. Afterward comes a touching passage when the cast, illuminated by golden footlights, gathers at the apron of the stage to pray. The climactic fight scene, which follows, is brief but wrenching. For new comers to opera or for veteran fans, Porgy and Bess is the opera to see this summer."


Go! To Glimmerglass (Bettina A. Norton, The Boston Musical Intelligencer, 7/29/2017)

"One really should make an effort to see and hear the Glimmerglass Opera production of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess..."


Opera in Attica: Arias at a Maximum-Security Prison (Michael Cooper, The New York Times, 7/28/2017)

"The singers arrived through a sally port that opened to let them through concrete walls more than three stories high. The audience members were led to their seats not by ushers but by guards with wooden batons hanging from their belts. Then the unlikely sounds of opera rang out in Attica, the maximum-security prison here in western New York that still bears the scars of the deadly 1971 uprising. For the third summer in a row, artists from the Glimmerglass Festival had left their bucolic home in Cooperstown, N.Y., on Tuesday morning, driving three and a half hours across the state to perform for inmates and guards in an auditorium that doubles as a chapel and a steel-tabled mess hall..."I think art is for everyone," said Ms. Zambello, a stage director who also serves as the artistic director of Washington National Opera. "We're here to be a bridge to groups that may not have access to the arts. I think that's part of our job." Ms. Zambello stayed behind to lead an evening class for the fledgling inmates' theater group, which is being called Third Prison from the Sun...Ms. Zambello hopes to expand the partnership for next year's offering, the musical West Side Story, which Glimmerglass is performing as part of Leonard Bernstein's centennial: She wants to teach the inmates the choruses, so they can participate."


Review: Glimmerglass Festival Porgy and Bess (, 7/15/2017)

"The Glimmerglass Festival presented a brilliantly sung production of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess. Director Francesca Zambello, Glimmerglass Festival's Artistic and General Director, a tireless advocate for the work, who created its most significant previous production, re-conceptualized the work in a stunningly effective new production..."


Review: Dead Man Walking at Washington National Opera (Susan Galbraith, DC Theatre Scene, 2/27/2017)

"The opera Dead Man Walking is a journey of harrowing truth and compelling beauty. If, as Sister Helen Prejean says, "Grace is waking up to the gospel of encounter," then Director Francesca Zambello and her company of stunning singer-actors has graced us with a revelatory theatrical encounter &emdash; that is to say an American opera for our city...Composer Jake Heggie's music breaks open our hearts so that we can feel the pain, rage, and sense of personal loss of all sides but also the power of forgiveness and the possibility of redemption. Together, text and music hold us enthralled and, interpreted with such skill and honesty, the opera offers itself as an opening for spiritual healing...Zambello gave her singers freedom to explore and the courage to go the distance emotionally. There is daring and beauty in that too. She and Christie have worked artfully to bring to the evening exquisite 'realistic' moments of great vocal intimacy...Beauty comes in the superlative acting abilities of the ensemble...Zambello has made sure that everyone, including every man, woman, and child in the three choruses, has created an inner reality to their character."


Review: Dead Man Walking at Washington National Opera (David Friscic, DC Metro Theater Arts, 2/27/2017)

"A meditative, spiritually resonant study of our common humanity in the face of unspeakable horror is presented in this probing Washington National Opera production with absolutely stunning production values, vocalizing of the highest order, and the laser-beam directorial eye of Artistic Director Francesca Zambello. Ms. Zambello has provided the DC Metro Region with a production that, while socially relevant, is also a very solid piece of opera...All of the elements have come together in this splendid Washington National Opera production under the astute directorial hand of the continually innovative Francesca Zambello. A journey through pain, anguish, mercy, forgiveness and redemption will linger in your heart and soul if you make time to see the Washington National Opera's production of Dead Man Walking."


Review: Washington National Opera's Dead Man Walking (Mike Paarlberg, Washington City Paper, 2/28/2017)

"It's rare for contemporary opera to achieve the level of relevance and success that Dead Man Walking has. Just 17 years old, it's been performed by companies around the globe and is well on its way to an established spot in the opera repertory...Make no mistake: Heggie's opera is excellent, a modern-day tragedy that balances its gut-wrenching moments with occasional levity, thanks in large part to Terrence McNally's engaging libretto. Francesca Zambello's production for the Washington National Opera is cinematic, with booming conducting by WNO newbie Michael Christie, and stripped down sets but plenty of movement and scene chewing. Appropriately, the acting is first rate, down to the class-specific accents".


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