Opus 40: Back to the Stone Age | Summer Arts Preview | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
click to enlarge Opus 40: Back to the Stone Age
Photo by Caroline Crumpacker
Hungry March Band performing at Opus 40 in 2019.

One could say that Opus 40, the sprawling, 6.5-acre environmental stone sculpture in Saugerties begun in 1939 by the late Harvey Fite, is the Hudson Valley’s original socially distanced arts center. Called “one of the largest and most beguiling works of art on the entire continent” by Architectural Digest, Fite’s site has for decades offered an outstanding outdoor experience to those who visit to marvel at its maze-like earthworks and traverse its terraces, ramps, and walkways—all made from locally quarried stone. Opus 40 has also served as the captivating setting for a wide variety of seasonal performance events over the years, and for this summer the facility has risen to the moment by amping up its arts programming with a dazzling calendar of live entertainment.

“In 2020, we were doing audiences of only 50 people,” says Caroline Crumpacker, Opus 40’s executive director. “For this season, to start with, we’re going to audiences of 100 people, which is a little lower than the current state mandate. But as long as the case numbers stay on their current trajectory with more people getting vaccinated, we’re expecting to raise it to 200 soon. All of the space here allows plenty of room for people to socially distance—you can easily have 100 feet between you and the next person and still enjoy the show.”

Returning for 2021 is the popular Sunset Sessions concert series, which is cosponsored by Radio Woodstock (check website for dates). The weekly Stockade Sunday Cabarets pair live acts with cocktails prepared by Kingston’s Stockade Tavern and include engagements by the Duet (May 15, July 31), Mac & Cheeze Balkan Power Trio (May 22, June 12, July 3, August 21, September 18, October 2), the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus (May 29, August 14, September 11), the Vanaver Caravan Musicians (July 17), and more. The Sweet Saturday Performance Series has Navatman Music and Dance troupe (July 17), Orchester Prazevica (August 7), Wind of Anatolia (September 4), and Spanglish Fly (October 16). The Sunday Afternoon Jazz and Folk Series features the Hot Jazz Jumpers (July 11), Eric Person (August 1), the Swingaroos (August 22), and A Tree Grows with Don Byron (September 26). Another musical headliner of note is the American Symphony Orchestra, which will perform two evening concerts with its players set up on the sculpture itself (June 24, September 9).

A major addition to Opus 40’s oeuvre for the new season is an outdoor sunset movie series presented in conjunction with Upstate Films (July 10, August 14, September 11, and October 16; see website for titles).

Besides there being beverages on hand for all of the live events at Opus 40, there’ll be bespoke barbecue and other edible items available from local food truck Papa’s Best Batch to savor, and the center’s art gallery will display new works and host tours and openings during specified times. And, of course, the registered National Historic Place is perfect for small-group picnics during daytime hours.

Peter Aaron

Peter Aaron is the arts editor for Chronogram.
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