Flying the flag in Fort Plain: goodbye to Glimmerglass

We are driving through the quiet streets of Fort Plain in upstate New York looking for our BnB. Brendan and Tony, our hosts at the Greene House Inn, have asked our nationalities and we think nothing of it. Suddenly we turn a corner and see the British and Canadian flags flying proudly from the porch of a sprawling red clapboard house. So funny to see them in small town America. What a welcome! We squeal with delight. Now that's what I call hospitality. Other guests are from NYC and the New York flag flies there too. "We thought it would be a nice touch to make our guests feel welcome," says Brendan. It worked.

Chatting on the porch at Greene House Inn

It is always the unexpected places to stay that turn out to be the best, I find. We couldn't get four nights in Cooperstown for the Glimmerglass Festival so searched Air BnB and found this beauty for a night. We didn't even have a recommendation as Brendan and Tony have just started renting rooms in their country home - the Greene House Inn. It was a 30 minute drive away. But it was a beautiful drive through rolling countryside with glimpses of Amish children playing on their farm and once in the evening  a horse and buggy taking a family home for the night. (where were they out so late?) We also discovered we could drive to Cherry Valley for dinner at our new fave resto the Rose and Kettle in 20 minutes on our way to the Glimmerglass Festival.  The Inn's guests are a curious mix of baseball and opera fans - all visiting Cooperstown and I'm sure all glad they made the stop.

Sasha: five and half pounds of cuteness
It actually felt like staying with family as Brendan and Tony are so friendly (without being intrusive) and happy to share the story of how they came to buy this house. They are having the most fun antique shopping at nearby markets to find treasures for the inn. Their Pomeranian/Chihuahua mix,  Sasha, is adorable and we spent much time coaxing her out of her shyness. Tony and Brendan's enthusiasm is infectious and Brendan writes all about their adventure on their Greene House Inn website. We got a tour of the house and garden (including Tony's vegetable plot) but best of all spent a lazy morning on the porch drinking coffee. A conversation about my search for decent scrambled eggs in the States (why do American diners make them like omelettes?) ended up with Brendan handing me the spoon in the kitchen and me whipping some eggs into shape. "They have to be the consistency of vomit," I find myself explaining. Brendan is concentrating hard on my technique and presumably can now please any Brit with his breakfasts having experienced my workshop. My Canadian friend of course scraped the eggs off her bagel. (Putting stuff on stuff is a British thing she explains).

Brendan, Sasha and Tony
But we are here for the opera and eventually we tear ourselves away from the porch and our flags to return to the Alice Busch Opera Theater. "What is so special about Glimmerglass," a friend asked me recently. My answer has a lot to do with being able to see four high quality operas in four days over a long weekend. Not only that but one of our faves, baritone Eric Owens is artist in residence and singing the role of Macbeth in Verdi's opera. He was his usual magnificient self opposite the fabulous Melody Moore as Lady Macbeth. (we're looking forward to seeing her in Madama Butterfly at Montreal Opera next month). Jacob McAuliffe's video tells you all you need to know about how wonderful this production was.

We felt emotionally drained at the end of this show - which is just how it should be with opera. But there was even more Eric to come when he paired up with tenor Lawrence Brownlee (both are regulars at the Met) for a concert of arias which may just have been the best concert of my life. During Brownlee's rendition of "It ain't necessarily so", from Porgy and Bess, he invited the audience to sing the responses. Owens joined in by popping his head around the side of the stage, singing the line and quickly disappearing. I couldn't sing for laughing. We all had wet eyes after the pair sang THE duet from Bizet's Pearlfishers to finish and the Glimmerglass audience , not known for its flexibility, leapt to its feet for a standing ovation. 

Cocktails after the show at the Rose and Kettle
It was our last night and we couldn't resist a return to the Rose and Kettle. When Eric Owens walked in for his dinner, spontaneous applause broke out. In characteristic style he turned and joined in the applause as if it was for someone else. As if. Although we've only been coming to Glimmerglass for three years I aspire to be one of those many folks we met who have been coming for decades. Because once you see Glimmerglass you pretty much HAVE to return.
Souvenirs from Glimmerglass


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