This weekend we went to the Glimmerglass Opera Festival, where we saw Richard Rodney Bennett's The Mines of Sulphur, an entertaining ghost story first produced in 1965 at Sadler's Wells. The score was somewhat avant-garde, but very accessible. Bennett went on to a successful career doing scores for movies and television, recently, "Four Weddings and a Funeral."
We stayed in Cooperstown, home not only to the Baseball Hall of Fame and Doubleday Field, but also to America's first novelist, James Fenimore Cooper, who not grew up there, retired there, and is buried there. Cooper immortalized Lake Otsego and the region in his Leatherstocking Tales. There is a Fenimore House Museum with a room of Cooper memorabilia, including letters written in his original hand. There is a little bit of art by people like Thomas Cole.
Unfortunately, the rest of the huge museum is a mish-mash, with some strange rooms devoted to the Adirondacks and children's learning centers next to real treasures like John Henri Isaac Browere's life masks of America's Founding Fathers. The images of John Adams, Lafayette, and other legendary figures were simply uncanny, and worth the visit all on their own.
There is a large collection of American Indian Art in the basement, which was interesting, but not related to Cooper or the region (a seal-gut parka from Alaska, pre-GoreTex waterproofing for the original kayakers).
On the way back, we passed through Elmira, NY, where we saw Mark Twain's grave, his summer study, and Quarry Farm, where he wrote A Tramp Abroad, Life on the Mississippi, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Prince and the Pauper, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. It was a beautiful spot.
Interestingly, Twain and his son-in-law, Russian-born musician Ossip Gabrilowitsch, conductor of the Detroit Symphony, share a monument erected by his daughter in their memory.
For more on the life of the peripatetic Mark Twain, you can check out Terry Ballard's Literary Pilgrimage website.