Francesca Zambello at Glimmerglass
Photo by Claire McAdams


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Glimmerglass Festival Announces Full 2016 Programming

The Glimmerglass Festival, which presents four mainstage productions of opera and musical theater every summer, has released the full details of its ever-expanding summer schedule. As its core offerings in 2016, the company will present new mainstage productions of Puccini's La bohème, Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, Rossini's The Thieving Magpie (La gazza ladra) and Robert Ward's Pulitzer Prize-winning The Crucible, which will be directed by Festival Artistic & General Director, Francesca Zambello. The Festival runs July 8 through August 27. Zambello will also host a Preview and Brunch on August 7, 14, and 21 at 11am at the Pavilion.

With guest artists ranging from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to key music figures Stephen Sondheim, Jamie Bernstein and Jamie Barton, the offerings are varied and run steadily throughout the season.

To coincide with the opening of the new production of The Crucible on July 23 at 4 p.m., the company will present, Close-Up on The Crucible with Eric Schneiderman: What really happened at the Salem witch trials and why it still matters. Schneiderman and guests will discuss the Salem witch trials, the "Red Scare" that inspired Arthur Miller's theatrical depiction in The Crucible, and other "trial by fire" moments in American history. The opening night seminar will include an in-depth history of the Salem trials, a mock debate for and against the witches, and performances of works by artists whose work has come under fire. Tickets are $25 and $10 for youths.

For more information about any production, or to order tickets, see the Glimmerglass Festival website.


Review: The Ring: Twilight of the Gods (Susan Galbraith, DC Theatre Scene, 5/9/16)

"In the hands of Zambello and Conductor Philippe Auguin, the first three evenings of operas have offered exceptional dramatic and musical interpretations, but Twilight proved to be the pinnacle... This has been a great Ring Cycle and one I believe will be one for the ages. Zambello has found a new way to keep Wagner's challenging marathon moving.  I doubt if ever an audience has experienced the kind of physical and emotional interactions as in this production, nor, I wager, has a director ever used the time so well to create a space for singer-actors to risk and give so much... Zambello's Ring is both the most human of stories and contains the theme of the most critical challenge facing us today. The production uses gorgeous music, drama, and stunning visuals to 'grow us new ears,' thrill us, and break open our hearts to a love of the arts."


Review: The Ring: Twilight of the Gods (Andrew White, Broadway World, 5/9/16)

Stunning Twilight of the Gods at the Washington National Opera
"When you have an opera production of depth like Francesca Zambello's The Ring of the Nibelungen, it is nearly impossible to pick a moment that captures its essence... This Götterdämmerung is truly awesome — in both the original and contemporary senses of the word... After seeing this production I don't hesitate to say that no Hollywood director could ever accomplish art on this scale in their wildest dreams"


Review: The Ring: Twilight of the Gods (Anne Midgette, The Washington Post, 5/8/16)

Twilight of the Gods confirms the triumph of WNO's 'Ring'
" the end of Twilight of the Gods, the fourth opera in Wagner's tetralogy, which wrapped up the first cycle at the Washington National Opera on Friday night, it was clear that, for once, the return on this huge investment is a genuinely important work of art. Francesca Zambello's Ring cycle is strong and moving, thought-provoking and powerful, with musical performances and insightful directing supporting each other in an experience that will leave those who saw it thinking and savoring for a long time to come... Zambello's direction, too, has come into sharper focus. This whole Ring negotiates the macro-micro divide with aplomb..."


Review: The Ring: Twilight of the Gods (Jacqueline Melendez, MD Theatre Guide, 5/8/16)

"An exhausting but exciting week was spent at the Kennedy Center...The audience roared for conductor Philippe Auguin, as well as director Francesca Zambello and the creative team. So many people were needed to put on such an enormous week long performance and "bravi tutti" for creating a wonderful success. It is a thrilling experience and with only two cycles of The Ring of the Nibelung left, I would make sure to grab a ticket."


Review: The Ring: Siegfried (Susan Galbraith, 5/6/16)

"Zambello doesn't back off from grounding the work in what is one of the most beautiful and emotional scenes we've been treated to thus far in three operas, the meeting between Wotan and Erda. Zambello insists dramatically that theirs is a serious relationship and central to our understanding the great arc of the tetralogy."


Review: The Ring: The Valkyrie (Jacqueline Melendez, MD Theatre Guide, 5/5/16)

"Famous for 'The Ride of the Valkyries,' Washington National Opera's production of The Valkyrie made a huge impression. Jaw dropping fight scenes with dogs bounding across the stage, aviators parachuting through the sky, rings of fire, and heart wrenching scenes between father and daughter, The Valkyrie definitely grabbed my attention. ...The most poignant part of the The Valkyrie was the set of the third act. The Valkyries, dressed to resemble Amelia Earhart, gather fallen heroes in Wagner's story. This is another scene where we get a glimpse of women independence in the Progressive Era. It is very important to note that the Washington National Opera put the faces of actual American fallen soldiers on stage in their production. It was touching and moving. As the curtain came down on the final act, a stage full of fire illuminated those faces."


Review: The Ring (Kate Winfield, MetroWeekly, 5/5/16)

"With Washington's first-ever complete Ring of the Nibelung, director Francesca Zambello achieves an extraordinary milestone — not just in staging the four operas consecutively, but in bringing her own voice and vision to Wagner's saga of conflicted Norse gods and their troubled entanglements with giants, dragons, earth spirits and a few bewildered mortals... it arrives clear, strong and with more imaginative power than ever. It's a testament to Zambello's determination to grow the art form... Zambello's is known as the American Ring because she, in large part, interprets the story through this country's lens, historically and culturally referencing iconic times, places and vistas... Zambello's innovation does not stop with the mood and imagery. She also reveals a deep interest in Wagner's women. There is powerful commentary here on the vulnerability of women in the face of male brutality and power... ...she also embraces Wagner's more primal and ominous themes: the poor and weak may be ruled by the powerful, but life is capricious, power is fragile, and death is coming not just to us all, but perhaps even the universe. The beautiful imagery, Yeargan's evocative sets and Zambello's clear storytelling make for a powerful vehicle... It is music to be heard live and conductor Philippe Auguin, bringing a tremendous performance from the WNO orchestra throughout, does not disappoint. It is also one of Zambello's most inventive turns, flying her Valkyries down from the heavens in the form of vintage paratroopers, singing in a fabulous array of richly wondrous power-voices. Returning also from 2007 are the photographs they carry as symbols of the fallen warriors they will bring to Valhalla. As before, they are the hauntingly handsome faces of young men lost in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq... Zambello's Ring is an aural, visual and spiritual event: an immersion in a dark and extraordinarily beautiful world like no other."


Review: The Ring: Siegfried (David Friscic, DC Metro Theater Arts, 5/5/16)

""The epic tale continues as the Washington National Opera's production of Siegfried —The Ring of the Nibelung-Part Two played to a very appreciative audience last night at The Kennedy Center Opera House... As Mr. Brenna and Ms. Foster sang together in their final notes of euphoric joy, this absorbing and reflective production of Siegfried ended with thrilling triumph and powerful satisfaction.""


Review: The Ring: The Valkyrie (Susan Galbraith, DC Theatre Scene, 5/4/16)

"The whole company surpassed what I could have imagined after the success of Part I (The Rhinegold) two nights before.  This was unequivocally the most glorious and moving opera I have ever experienced... Boy, does Zambello know her stuff with the physicality in this production! The images pile on, many which both startle and deeply shock... Zambello releases us emotionally to recognize and laugh with childlike delight as the Valkyries slide through the air with parachutes on a great diagonal, all dressed in aviatrix jumpsuits with white silk scarves reminiscent of our most famous female flyer, Amelia Earhart.   With this directorial choice, our director may have hit upon the most emblematic image yet of the Americanization of her Ring. Magical, hot, colorful, emotionally charged, and dangerous, the fire symbolized the entire opera and what we had been through all evening."


Review: The Ring: The Rheingold (Susan Galbraith, DC Theatre Scene, 5/2/16)

"Zambello's production of The Ring of the Nibelung is a big deal in all kinds of ways. But what makes it, for me, startling and brave is how American she has re-framed the work, and how darn well she pulls it off... Zambello has plucked pieces of American history and found iconic images to dress and immediately identify characters so that regardless of our operatic education or inclination we can be brought in to experience the heart of Wagner's epic...Some of her "solutions" prove brilliant. Auguin and Zambello have delivered a most memorable Prologue to an American Ring. By the roar of the crowd that leapt to their feet at the curtain call, many of the audience felt the same."


Review: The Ring: The Rhinegold (David Friscic, DC Metro Theater Arts, 5/1/16)

"In this initial opera, the genius "Midas touch" of the directorial interpretation is that Director Zambello treats the source material with great respect and reverence while, concurrently, adding fresh and invigorating yet subtly interwoven relevant and innovative interpretive touches. ...Zambello has reinvigorated The Rhinegold with exciting new dimensions while maintaining the unique and universal appeal of this artistic masterpiece. A huge thunderous ovation is in order for the coordination of this entire ambitious effort and it can only portend major anticipation for the three upcoming operas in the Cycle."


Review: The Flying Dutchman (William Powell, DC Metro Theatre Arts, 4/24/16)

"These themes and others played out in the astoundingly well-performed The Flying Dutchman (Der fliegende Hollander) [using Francesca Zambello's staging] by the Virginia Opera (for the first time in 20 years) at George Mason Center for the Arts April on 23rd. How many ways did I love this show? Numbering them would take hours. My thought throughout was: 'My, God, this is art at its best.' "


Review: The Flying Dutchman (Robert Battey, The Washington Post, 4/24/16)

Virginia Opera mounts a high-flying 'Dutchman'
"The Virginia Opera, which presented [Francesca Zambello's staging of] The Flying Dutchman (Der Fliegende Höllander) this weekend at George Mason University's Center for the Arts, has aimed high in the past with some success, and it can be proud of this effort as well. imaginative and well-grounded take on things..."


Review: Show Boat (Lindsey Wilson, CultureMapDallas, 4/28/16)

Dallas Opera spares no expense with history-making Show Boat
"Dallas Opera, using Francesca Zambello's Lyric Opera of Chicago production, has breathed new life into the American classic with soaring voices and nuanced performances...You're not likely to see this early American gem, which many credit as changing the course of American theater when it premiered in 1927, performed in such lavish style again for a long, long time."


Review: Show Boat (Before It's News, 4/24/16)

The Dallas Opera put on quite a Show Boat this weekend
"What a great show:  The Dallas Opera put on a great performance of Show Boat.


Review: Show Boat (Victoria Monteros, North Texas Daily, 4/21/16)

"The production's combination of several elements is unlike anything the Dallas Opera has done before...the show has proven a success with audience members."


Review: Show Boat (Nancy Churnin, The Dallas Morning News, 4/16/16)

Dallas Opera takes gamble and scores with Show Boat
"You can go for the exquisite voices, the sumptuous staging or the enveloping warmth of a rich musical tapestry woven by a masterful 51-piece orchestra conducted by Emmanuel Villaume, but the big reason to see Show Boat is the compassion that suffuses The Dallas Opera production at Winspear Opera House... ...there's a humanity that rises to the level of majesty in imperfect characters doing their best in imperfect times... E. Loren Meeker's stage direction of this production originally designed by Francesca Zambello for Chicago's Lyric Opera, deftly weaves the strands together, illuminating contrasts among the journeys. ..the show received a well-deserved ovation at Friday's opening night from a mix of opera subscribers and musical theater fans."


Review: Show Boat (Wayne Lee Gay, Dallas Observer, 4/16/16)

Dallas Opera's First Broadway Production, Show Boat, Is Unfailingly Engaging
"Francesca Zambello conceived and provided the stage direction for the Chicago production, and her philosophy and intentions have been carried over into the Dallas production by E. Loren Meeker."


Energetic Glimmerglass Candide (James Sohre, Opera Today)

"Director Francesca Zambello has wisely chosen to stage it as a Broadway show, and she has invested the proceedings with all her trademark invention and pacing. Ms. Zambello has an excellent team of Young Artists at her disposal and she shows off the depth of the roster with skill and affection. Francesa filled the stage with enough good ideas for about 10 shows, and all of them were welcome. She set the tone brilliantly during the second half of the overture, with a clown car effect in which a theatrical trunk was placed center stage and performers kept climbing out of it, as dust covers were removed from other set pieces revealing half clad actors who scamper up stairs, and clamber onto ladders to make a final pose at the close of the famous overture. What a witty, Cirque de So Gay start to the night! Thereafter, the director and design team did their damnedest to keep the stage filled with motion, effects, dances, and most of all, a semblance of clarity. All in all, they served this version well...this was likely the best of all possible Candides."


Glimmerglass Festival Review: Celebrating 40 Years (Heidi Waleson, The Wall Street Journal)

"Now in its 40th anniversary season, its fifth under the leadership of Francesca Zambello, the Glimmerglass Festival has once again become the kind of company that it was in its heyday in the mid-1990s – a destination that promises opera lovers something new and special with every production. Ms. Zambello has added classic American musicals, presented without amplification and using dancers trained in the style of musical theater, and this year's staging of Leonard Bernstein's Candide was the best so far...As directed by Ms. Zambello and conducted by the company's music director, Joseph Colaneri,this Candide is swiftly paced but darker and more nuanced than usual, with the bite of Voltaire's satire emerging through the text, the brilliant lyrics, and Bernstein's sparkling music."


The best of all possible whirls (David Browning,

"As with most Francesca Zambello productions I've seen, I can hardly resist singing the praises of the production team before mentioning the stellar cast. Ms. Zambello, as Director, and Conductor Joseph Colaneri, Scenic Designer James Noone, Costume Designer Jennifer Moeller, Hair/Makeup Designer Anne Ford-Coates, Lighting Designer Mark McCullough, and Choreographer Eric Sean Fogel, have created a treasure. From the opening bars of Mr. Colaneri's energetic reading of the score, I knew this would be a special show, and I was not disappointed. The clever arrival of some of the ensemble members on stage (I won't spoil it, but you'll remember it if you get to see it!) and the many other visual delights created by the design team, choreographer, and Ms. Zambello before the first words were sung only added to the excitement...I find that Candide is my favorite Glimmerglass production of the season. This production is full of magic and power and zest, and never disappointed. Go see it if you can get a ticket!"


Zambello spins magic at Glimmerglass with Bernstein's Candide (Linda Loomis, / The Post Standard)

"It's easy to believe in magic at Glimmerglass Festival's production of Candide, directed by Francesca Zambello with Joseph Colaneri conducting. These veteran collaborators stage a new production in which enchantment flows from the first bars of the unmistakably-Bernstein overture to the final ensemble number, "Make Our Garden Grow."...This production, fashioned by Bernstein's genius and produced by the talented crew at Glimmerglass, is prime entertainment."


Glimmerglass's Candide makes political satire satisfying entertainment (David Rubin, CNYCafé

Francesca Zambello demonstrates how a musical whose story is based entirely on politics and philosophy can 'glitter and be gay': "Zambello is to be thanked for not inserting topical political "humor" into the show. There were no Donald Trump jokes and no references to gridlocked Congresses. She played it straight – trusting that the audience would get whatever political message Wheeler, Caird and Voltaire had intended. As a result, she managed to do what Harold Prince (in the 1997 Broadway flop) and Tyrone Guthrie (in the 1956 original flop) could not – that is, make Candide a satisfying afternoon's entertainment, if not the wicked satire that Hellman and Bernstein intended."


A sprightly new production of Leonard Bernstein's musical from Francesca Zambello

"With its sprawling nature and unorthodox subject, Bernstein's Candide has a reputation as a flawed work, but it certainly doesn't seem so in Francesca Zambello's sprightly new production...Zambello strives to give each venue a character of its own. Her outlandish treatment of the El Dorado scene, which seems to draw inspiration both from Las Vegas and from Franco Zeffirelli's Turandot for the Met, makes that scene stand out and helps give overall shape to Act 2. And she is never at a loss to illustrate humorously the pronouncements of the narrator, which form much of the spoken text..."


Review: Preview of Glimmerglass's Odyssey (Seth Lachterman,

"One might say that the vast Homeric epic might too hallowed to be performed at such a small scale. However, many will succumb to the charms of Ben Moore's disarming score and Kelley Rourke's prosodic genius...The work progressed from heroic numbers like "Sing to me of Odysseus," to the blunter plaint, "Face it, he's never coming home!"  Engaging young audiences has become essential for classical music to survive in a world where digital immersion of immediacy of effect raises the aesthetic threshold.  "For the arts to flourish and grow and be alive, you must start with children," says Francesca Zambello, Artistic and General Director for this year's fortieth anniversary season...Odyssey promises a wealth of innovation: multiple "bards," a flexi-chorus taking on multiple roles as   Odysseus's crew, Ithacans, and even singing swine (thanks to Chef Circe)."


Francesca Zambello with Anna Catarina Antonacci

Francesca Zambello poses here with Anna Catarina Antonacci, star of San Francisco Opera's production of Marco Tutino's "La Ciociara" ("Two Women"), based on the novel that inspired the 1960 film with Sophia Loren. "La Ciociara," a San Francisco Opera commission, will be presented from 13 to 20 June, 2015, as a co-production with Teato Regio di Torino, and will be sung in Italian with English supertitles. More information about the production, including ticket sales, can be found at


Zambello Directs 2016 Ring Cycle at Washington National Opera

The Ring cycle returns to Washington National Opera in 2016 for three complete performances, with Francesca Zambello directing. Philippe Auguin will conduct, and the cast includes Nina Stemme, Catherine Foster, Alan Held, and Daniel Brenna. The Washington Post called this production "one of the best "Ring" cycles in more than a quarter of a century," and Zambello "one of the best directors working in opera today."

More information about the productions, including ticket sales, can be found at


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