Summering at Caramoor

July 5, 2011

With the Fourth of July now in our rear-view mirror, there’s no denying that we are in high summer. Some of us go off to cool, bucolic spots; some of us slog away at our pursuits in the city heat; but some of us who stay in the city are unwilling to renounce the pastoral pleasures that can be more accessible than many suspect.

I’m thinking here of what is officially called Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, but I think of it as a kind of temporary paradise. I’d be glad to be there even without the sensational programming that they do. Though there’s a style of music for any of myriad tastes at Caramoor, I go for the outstanding classical concerts and the important presentations of operas that are otherwise hard to find in live performance. Such a show is coming up twice in the next two weeks, when Rossini’s masterpiece William Tell is being given a rare outing. It’s a huge work, and that’s why performing outfits rarely have the wherewithal to put it on. And this is one of the things that I love about these concert performances: because they dispense with the expense — and, for me at least, the distraction — of all the stage machinery, one’s own imagination allows them to be more dramatically effective than most stagecraft is likely to make them, and they are certainly freer to concentrate on the drama that is in musical values.

People who live up in Westchester County or nearby Connecticut of course have the advantage of proximity, but I don’t envy them that, since I have the advantage of escape to a radically different place for an evening — or even for a longer time, since the afternoon provides a bounty of enriching preparatory events arranged by the obliging Caramoor folks.

For details of the William Tell performances, including the handy and comfortable “Caramoor Caravan” that leaves from Grand Central Station, check out this link.

And a final thought: while you may be lucky enough to go on one of those perfect summer nights when it is warm-but-not-too-warm, there is also a certain wonderful comradery when rain is falling around the tent or when it is so sweltering as to be almost funny. But the first time I encountered the latter state, I was in tie and jacket. I do not recommend this. The next week I went as though dressed for a picnic (as I had observed more savvy visitors doing), and enjoyed the whole event in great comfort and good humor.

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