Sarasota Opera

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Sarasota Opera House, late March 2008, after complete interior and exterior renovation Sarasota Opera House-March 2008.jpg
Sarasota Opera House, late March 2008, after complete interior and exterior renovation

Sarasota Opera is a professional opera company in Sarasota, Florida, USA, which was founded as the Asolo Opera Guild and, until 1974, presented a visiting company's productions. Between 1974 and 1979, it set about mounting its own productions in the same venue until, in 1979, it acquired the Edwards Theatre, which became the Sarasota Opera House in 1984. The house underwent a further renovation in 2008, creating a 1,119-seat venue.

Sarasota, Florida City in Florida, United States

Sarasota is a city in Sarasota County on the southwestern coast of the U.S. state of Florida. The area is renowned for its cultural and environmental amenities, beaches, resorts, and the Sarasota School of Architecture. The city is at the southern end of the Tampa Bay Area, north of Fort Myers and Punta Gorda. Its official limits include Sarasota Bay and several barrier islands between the bay and the Gulf of Mexico. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2013 Sarasota had a population of 53,326. In 1986 it became designated as a certified local government. Sarasota is a principal city of the Sarasota metropolitan area, and is the seat of Sarasota County.


In addition to two or three operas in the popular repertoire, each season typically includes an opera as part of the long-running "Verdi Cycle", the company's planned presentations of every Verdi opera, and one in the "Masterworks Revival" series.

Company history

Sarasota Opera House, late March 2008. Sarasota-Opera-House-exterior-w-sign.jpg
Sarasota Opera House, late March 2008.

Initially bringing the Turnau Opera of Woodstock, New York to perform chamber-sized operas at the historic Asolo Theater on the grounds of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, the guild then began mounting its own productions, also at the Asolo, in 1974, but when it acquired the Edwards Theatre in 1979, the company set about a rehabilitation of the old vaudeville and movie theater and opened it in 1984.

John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art Art museum in Sarasota, Florida

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is the state art museum of Florida, located in Sarasota, Florida. It was established in 1927 as the legacy of Mable and John Ringling for the people of Florida. Florida State University assumed governance of the Museum in 2000.

Under the artistic direction of Victor DeRenzi since 1982 [1] and executive director Richard Russell, [2] the company presents its Winter Opera Festival in February and March, usually offering four fully staged operas with the Sarasota Opera Orchestra. The repertoire includes standard works as well as lesser known operas.

In March 2008, the Sarasota Opera House reopened after a $20 million renovation with Verdi's Rigoletto , and in the same year, the company added its first fully staged fall production, Rossini's The Barber of Seville bringing the number of operas presented in a season to five. For the most part, the Fall operas have been popular favourites, but in 2012, it presented Daron Hagen's world premiere opera, Little Nemo in Slumberland .

Sarasota Opera House opera house in Sarasota, Florida, United States

The Sarasota Opera House is an historic theatre, now opera house, located at 61 North Pineapple Avenue in Sarasota, Florida. The vision of a local man and the first mayor of the town, A. B. Edwards. It originally opened on April 10, 1926 with an elaborate three-story entrance containing "eight shops on the ground floor, 12 offices on the second floor, and 12 furnished apartments on the third, while the theatre's auditorium contained an orchestral pipe organ. As noted on the Sarasota Opera's website, the Sarasota Herald Tribune hailed Edwards for "having admitted Sarasota into a fairyland of costly decoration, rich furnishings and never to be forgotten artistry."

<i>Rigoletto</i> opera by Giuseppe Verdi

Rigoletto is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi. The Italian libretto was written by Francesco Maria Piave based on the play Le roi s'amuse by Victor Hugo. Despite serious initial problems with the Austrian censors who had control over northern Italian theatres at the time, the opera had a triumphant premiere at La Fenice in Venice on 11 March 1851.

<i>The Barber of Seville</i> 1816 opera by Gioachino Rossini

The Barber of Seville, or The Useless Precaution is an opera buffa in two acts by Gioachino Rossini with an Italian libretto by Cesare Sterbini. The libretto was based on Pierre Beaumarchais's French comedy Le Barbier de Séville (1775). The première of Rossini's opera took place on 20 February 1816 at the Teatro Argentina, Rome, with designs by Angelo Toselli.

Characteristic features of the company

One of the company's longest standing initiatives is the Verdi Cycle, an effort—which began in 1989—to perform all of the works of Giuseppe Verdi, including every one of his operas (as well as all alternative versions), all his orchestral and chamber music, as well as the Requiem . [3] In recent years, the Verdi Cycle operas have included I due Foscari , Giovanna d'Arco , I Lombardi and Otello . In 2009, the company staged performances of the composer's Don Carlo in the four-act version of 1884 (the "La Scala" version) in French. [4] At the time, this was the largest opera ever presented by the company.

Giuseppe Verdi Italian opera composer

Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi was an Italian opera composer. He was born near Busseto to a provincial family of moderate means, and developed a musical education with the help of a local patron. Verdi came to dominate the Italian opera scene after the era of Vincenzo Bellini, Gaetano Donizetti, and Gioachino Rossini, whose works significantly influenced him. By his 30s, he had become one of the pre-eminent opera composers in history.

Requiem (Verdi) musical setting of the Roman Catholic funeral mass by Giuseppe Verdi

The Messa da Requiem is a musical setting of the Catholic funeral mass (Requiem) for four soloists, double choir and orchestra by Giuseppe Verdi. It was composed in memory of Alessandro Manzoni, an Italian poet and novelist whom Verdi admired. The first performance, at the San Marco church in Milan on 22 May 1874, marked the first anniversary of Manzoni's death. The work was at one time called the Manzoni Requiem. It is rarely performed in liturgy, but rather in concert form of around 85–90 minutes in length. Musicologist David Rosen calls it 'probably the most frequently performed major choral work composed since the compilation of Mozart's Requiem'.

<i>I due Foscari</i> opera by Giuseppe Verdi

I due Foscari is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, based on a historical play, The Two Foscari by Lord Byron.

The first grand opera which Verdi wrote for Paris, Jérusalem (a revised version of the 1843 I Lombardi), was given in French in 2014, while his first comedy, Un giorno di regno , appeared in 2013. Don Carlos, in the original, 5-act, Paris version in French was performed in 2015. [5]

Grand opera opera genre

Grand opera is a genre of 19th-century opera generally in four or five acts, characterized by large-scale casts and orchestras, and lavish and spectacular design and stage effects, normally with plots based on or around dramatic historic events. The term is particularly applied to certain productions of the Paris Opéra from the late 1820s to around 1850; 'grand opéra' has sometimes been used to denote the Paris Opéra itself.

<i>Jérusalem</i> Opera by Giuseppe Verdi

Jérusalem is a grand opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi. The libretto was to be an adaptation and partial translation of the composer's original 1843 Italian opera, I Lombardi alla prima crociata. It was the one opera which he regarded as the most suitable for being translated into French and, taking Eugène Scribe's advice, Verdi agreed that a French libretto was to be prepared by Alphonse Royer and Gustave Vaëz, who had written the libretto for Donizetti's most successful French opera, La favorite. The opera received its premiere performance at the Salle Le Peletier in Paris on 26 November 1847. The maiden production was designed by Paul Lormier (costumes), Charles Séchan, Jules Diéterle and Édouard Desplechin, and Charles-Antoine Cambon and Joseph Thierry.

<i>Un giorno di regno</i> operatic melodramma giocoso in 2 acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto written in 1818 by Felice Romani, based on the play Le faux Stanislas by A. V. P. Duval in 1808; first performed at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan on 5 Sept. 1840

Un giorno di regno, ossia Il finto Stanislao is an operatic melodramma giocoso in two acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto written in 1818 by Felice Romani. Originally written for the Bohemian composer Adalbert Gyrowetz the libretto was based on the play Le faux Stanislas written by the Frenchman Alexandre-Vincent Pineux Duval in 1808. Un giorno was given its premiere performance at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan on 5 September 1840.

The 2016 Winter Festival Season brought the completion of the 28-year Verdi Cycle on March 20, 2016 making Sarasota Opera the only company in the world to have performed every work, operatic and non-operatic, available for performance by Giuseppe Verdi and Maestro Victor DeRenzi the only conductor in the world to have conducted every available work by Giuseppe Verdi. [6] The season culminated in a Verdi Festival Week, March 15–20, which included performances of the final two Verdi operas to be performed as part of the cycle, La battaglia di Legnano and Aida , two concerts dedicated to the music of Verdi, a two-day International Verdi Conference in partnership with the American Institute for Verdi Studies, [7] and a 28-year retrospective exhibit on the Verdi Cycle. [8] Distinguished guests included two of Giuseppe Verdi's great, great grandchildren, Maria Mercedes Carrara Verdi and Angiolo Carrara Verdi, [9] Gloria Marina Bellelli, Consul General of Italy, and Enzo Petrolini, President of the Club dei 27. [10]

Starting this fall, Sarasota Opera will launch a new venture entitled "Sarasota Firsts" in which the company will present operas never previously produced on the Sarasota Opera House stage. For the 2016/2017 season, Sarasota Opera will present three operas in association with this new series which will be Don Pasquale by Gaetano Donizetti , L'italiana in Algeri by Gioachino Rossini , and Dialogues of the Carmelites by Francis Poulenc . The season will also include Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini and L'amore dei tre re by Italo Montemezzi .

The series includes presentations of neglected works of artistic merit. Operas presented in this series have included Alfredo Catalani's La Wally , Carl Nielsen's Maskarade , Engelbert Humperdinck's Königskinder , Stanisław Moniuszko's Halka , and Mascagni's L'amico Fritz .

The company also runs an Apprentice Program and a Studio Artists Program. Both programs provide young singers with additional training and performance opportunities in the chorus or other small roles in the company's productions.

The 2010-2011 opera season marked the beginning of Sarasota Opera's newest initiative, the American Classics Series, through which Sarasota Opera has made the commitment to produce one opera by an American composer each season. Robert Ward's opera, The Crucible based on the play by Arthur Miller, served as the inaugural production of this new series, and it was received with critical acclaim. [12] The 2012 Festival Season featured Samuel Barber's Vanessa and, in 2013, the American Classic opera was Carlisle Floyd's Of Mice and Men . In 2013 the company announced that they would no longer continue this series, with Lawrence Johnson noting in London's Opera magazine that "Richard Russell, the company's new executive director, decided to pull the plug on the enterprising project due to lack of enthusiasm from the company's local patron base, heavy on seniors who prefer conservative repertoire". [13]

The SarasotaYouth Opera program, begun in 1984, is the most comprehensive training program designed for young people ages 8 to 18 currently in the United States. The program admits all who apply, regardless of skill level, and provides instruction in the musical and theatrical aspects of opera. In recent years, the Sarasota Youth Opera has mounted world premieres on Sarasota's stage, the best-known being The Language of Birds, and gave the United States premiere of Canadian composer Dean Burry's opera The Hobbit in 2008. In 2010, the Sarasota Youth Opera presented the opera The Black Spider by Judith Weir. Sarasota Opera presented the world premiere of Little Nemo in Slumberland, an opera the company commissioned with music by Daron Hagen and words by J.D. McClatchy, in November 2012. On November 12, 2016, the Sarasota Youth Opera will perform The Secret World of Og also by the Canadian composer Dean Burry based on the popular children's novel by Pierre Berton.

Sarasota Opera House

For a more detailed article on the opera house, see Sarasota Opera House

Recognizing the need for a larger theater with an orchestra pit, the guild purchased the then-closed A. B. Edwards Theatre, which had been renamed as the Florida Theatre in December 1936. The theater had been built in 1926 by an important early resident of Sarasota, Arthur Britton Edwards, as a versatile performance venue that could be adapted for vaudeville or as a movie house. The guild members renovated the building beginning in 1982. The next year the A. B. Edwards Theatre was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and was reopened as the Sarasota Theatre of the Arts in 1984. The name was changed to the Sarasota Opera House a few years later. From 2007 until the opening of the new season on 1 March 2008, the opera house was extensively remodeled and updated throughout its interior and exterior. The $20 million renovations included a gutting of the auditorium, resulting in a newly configured seating plan, expansion of the public areas and Opera Club on the second level, the opening up of the atrium to reveal a newly installed skylight system which had existed in the 1926 building. Seating has been expanded to 1,119.

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  1. Jay Handelman, "DeRenzi marks 30 years leading Sarasota Opera", Sarasota Herald-Tribune , 3 February 2012 on Retrieved 6 February 2012
  2. Carrie Seidman, "Richard Russell returns to Sarasota Opera as Executive Director", Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 19 September 2012 on Retrieved 4 November 2012
  3. The Verdi Cycle: operas performed
  4. Verdi Cycle Website/Don Carlo
  5. Jay Handelman, "Sarasota Opera offers a new approach to Verdi in 2013 winter season", Sarasota Herald-Tribune, February 12, 2012 on Retrieved 12 February 2012
  6. Fleming, John (March 31, 2016). "Sarasota's Verdi: Every Opera, and complete pleasure". Classical Voice North America.
  7. "Welcome". American Institute for Verdi Studies.
  8. Jay Handelman, "Sarasota Opera reaches final notes of 28 year Verdi Cycle", Sarasota Herald-Tribune, February 19, 2016
  9. by Giulietta Bascioni Brattini, "Intervista a Maria Mercedes Carrara Verdi", 2010
  10. Club dei 27
  11. Masterworks Revival Series; operas performed
  12. Richard Storm, "REVIEW: Courage of all kinds marks The Crucible at Sarasota Opera, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, March 6, 2011
  13. Lawrence A. Johnson, "Sarasota" (review of Of Mice and Men), Opera (London), August 2013, p. 1030.