SPAC opened its gates on July 8, 1966, with a performance of George Balanchine’s Midsummer Night’s Dream presented by the New York City Ballet. This inaugural performance was the start of the longest running summer residency for a ballet company in the nation. Less than a month later, Eugene Ormandy raised his baton to lead The Philadelphia Orchestra in Beethoven’s Consecration of the House Overture, a fitting tribute to the new Amphitheatre.
Framed by rolling lawns, majestic pines and rushing streams, SPAC’s Amphitheatre, situated in a naturally curved hillside in the center of the 2,200-acre Saratoga Spa State Park, has been an ideal showcase for internationally acclaimed music and dance artists for nearly five decades. The Amphitheatre offers covered seating for 5,200 and the surrounding lawn can accommodate an additional audience of 20,000. Each season more than 350,000 people pass through SPAC’s gates.
From the beginning, SPAC’s growth, success and stature has been intertwined with that of its founding resident companies, the New York City Ballet and The Philadelphia Orchestra, two of the world’s foremost artistic organizations. In 2014, the circle of partners grew to include the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the nation’s premier chamber music organization, which makes SPAC’s Little Theatre its summer home each August.
Other annual highlights of the summer season include the iconic Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival which was founded at SPAC in 1978 by jazz impresario George Wein; a star-studded concert series by Live Nation; professional opera productions by Opera Saratoga, and renowned modern dance programming. The final curtain of the SPAC season comes down in early September with the annual Saratoga Wine and Food Festival, one of the fastest-growing wine and food events in the nation.
Millions of people have attended performances at Saratoga Performing Arts Center and millions more will pass through its gates in the future. For each and every audience member, SPAC provides a unique experience while upholding its promise to offer the world’s best artists and programming in music and dance, and to preserve and perpetuate its glorious cultural heritage and natural beauty.