Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Night at the Opera

By Miles Saunders, WNED-TV senior producer

The Chautauqua summer season is a nine-week marathon. Set in the Chautauqua Institution's idyllic campus and unfolding throughout the comfortable summer on Chautauqua Lake, it all looks effortless.  It isn't.   Almost as soon as the last act leaves the stage in late August, the staff is busy planning the next summer's comprehensive list of lecturers, chaplains, guest conductors, theater stars and popular entertainment acts. They've been at it all winter and we got a sneak peek when four of Chautauqua's staff, Matt Ewalt, Marty Merkley, the Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell and George Murphy, came to WNED to tape the Chautauqua 2013 Season Preview airing Wednesday, March 20 at 11 p.m. on WNED-TV.   

Chautauqua_BellTower"You've got a lot of big names again," I said to Joan, as we sat down for lunch with Chautauqua staff before shooting the showShe and I had met before when I produced last year's preview.  We went through a quick list of big names from this year’s line-up including Steve Martin and singer-songwriter Paul Simon.  At the top of the list, was Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.   

"I can't think of anyone better to discuss crime and punishment," I said.  "Actually," said Joan, "she doesn't want to talk about that." "Really?" I asked, a bit surprised, "what's she going to talk about then?" "She wants to talk about opera." "Opera?," I asked.  "Her first question," Joan explained, "was, 'what operas are you doing this season?' She wanted to arrange her schedule around that."

AmphitheaterSo, when, Justice Ginsberg comes to Chautauqua at the end of July, she'll take in The Chautauqua Opera's production of “Falstaff” and the topic of her lecture will be the rich legacy of crime and punishment throughout history as recorded for us in opera.  

Needless to say, Justice Ginsberg is not the only fascinating speaker this summer.  There are literally hundreds from Kobie Boykins, an engineer on NASA's Mars rover projects, to “The New York Times’” David Brooks. Speakers will explore everything from the mysteries of the universe, to the mind of Lincoln and where morals are supposed to fit into market capitalism.

Are you excited about the upcoming season at the Institution? Feel free to comment below!

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