Based in Florida's beautiful Gulf Coast, Sarasota Opera is in now in its 53rd season.
In 1960 the group, then called Asolo Opera Guild was formed to present the touring Turnau Opera in chamber-sized productions in the historic 320 seat Asolo Theater on the grounds of Sarasota's Ringling Museum of Art. In 1973 the company began mounting its own productions. Recognizing the need for a theater more conducive to opera, the company purchased the former A.B. Edwards Theater in downtown Sarasota in 1979. Renovations began in 1982 and the theater, now on the National Register of Historic Places, opened in 1984 as the Sarasota Opera House, the company it housed now being called Sarasota Opera.
Since 1983 the company has been under the artistic leadership of Victor DeRenzi. Since then the company has garnered international attention with its Masterwork Revivals Series, which presents neglected works of artistic merit, as well as the Verdi Cycle producing the complete works of Giuseppe Verdi. Recognizing the importance of training, Maestro DeRenzi founded the Apprentice Artist and Studio Artist programs. Sarasota Opera also maintains a commitment to education through it performances for local schools and the unique Sarasota Youth Opera program.
The Sarasota Opera House completed a $20 million dollar historic renovation and restoration in 2008. The project was designed to restore the historic 1926 theater to its original glory, while creating a venue for opera for the 21st century. Decorative details have been restored, seating has been replaced, and the orchestra pit almost doubled in size to accommodate operas that require larger orchestras. Backstage systems have been updated and public areas and amenities expanded and enhanced.
Introducing American Classics
With the completion of The Verdi Cycle nearing, Sarasota Opera will present a series of great operas written by American composers during the twentieth century. This new series will give Sarasota Opera the chance to bring its audience a different yet equally poignant style of opera while remaining consistent with its mission of presenting opera true to the vision of the composer. All of works presented in the American Classics Series are recognized classics but because American operas tend not to be performed as often as the standard European repertoire, most of our audience has probably not yet had the chance to see them. Our hope is you will find these works musically and dramatically powerful, but in a way that is uniquely American.
Sarasota Opera inaugurated the American Classics Series in 2011 with The Crucible by Robert Ward, based on Arthur Miller's Tony Award winning play of the same name and followed the next season with Samual Barber's intensely beautiful opera Vanessa in 2012. 2013 will bring Carlisle Floyd's opera Of Mice and Men based off the novella by John Steinbeck.
In partnership with other local arts organizations, Sarasota Opera has created a series of educational events unique to each opera. Previous events have included lectures and musical samplings with the artists, production staff and even the composer of the opera. Keep checking back for information on events for the 2013 production of Of Mice and Men.