Youth Opera Information

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Since 1984, Sarasota Youth Opera has given thousands of young people an opportunity to experience opera first hand through participation in after-school choruses, Sarasota Opera mainstage productions, summer workshops, and fully staged Youth Opera productions. As the only program in the United States committed to presenting annual full-scale opera productions for young voices, accepting all who wish to participate regardless of skill level or ability to pay, Sarasota Youth Opera is a national model for opera education.


Beginning at age 8, singers are placed in one of two chorus levels. Each chorus provides a setting for everyone to participate and progress at  their own level as they gain greater skills and experience. selections performed are made up of classical music, which includes opera and choral pieces in different languages. The choruses perform throughout the community in formal concerts and outreach events.



Members of the Youth Opera are selected to join Sarasota Opera’s Winter Festival season, appearing in the mainstage childrens chorus, as supernumeraries (extras who perform non-singing roles) and for special roles written by the composer for children's voices. In recent seasons these have included roles in The Magic Flute, la BohèmeTosca, and Carmen. Singers are involved in the complete production process – from early music and dramatic rehearsals to performing alongside opera professionals. 



Part of Sarasota Opera’s commitment to young people includes the commissioning of new operatic works written for children and young adults. Six new works have been presented as part of this mission: Deadline (1989), Polly Pen’s Her Lightness (1993), Tom Suta’s Eye of Ra (1998), John Kennedy’s The Language of Birds (2004), and Daron Hagen’s Little Nemo in Slumberland (2012). In November 2017, SYO will present its sixth commission, Rootabaga Country by Rachel J. Peters, based on the writings of Carl Sandburg. Members take part in the making of each opera complete with professional staging, costumes, lighting, sound, and orchestral accompaniment.


Past productions and commissions include:

1986   Space Opera/Rooster Rag/Jack and the Beanstalk
1986   Chanticleer
1987   The Frog Prince
1988   Cinderella
1989   Deadline (Commission/World Premiere)
1990   Cornelius Coyote (World Premiere)
1991   Karlsson on the Roof (American Premiere)
1992   Yanomano
1993   Her Lightness (Commission/World Premiere)
1994   Ocean World
1995   African Jigsaw
1996   Pinocchio
1997   Arabica
1998   Brundibár
1998   Eye of Ra (Commission/World Premiere)
1999   The Black Spider
2001   The Second Hurricane
2002   Down in the Valley
2002   The Happy Prince
2003   The Piper of Hamelin
2004   The Language of Birds (Commission/World Premiere)
2005   The Little Sweep
2006   The Second Hurricane
2008   The Hobbit (U.S. Premiere)
2010   The Black Spider
2012   Little Nemo in Slumberland (Commission/World Premiere)
2013   The Little Sweep
2014   The Hobbit
2015   Brundibár (with newly-commissioned Prologue)
2016   The Secret World of Og (U.S. Premiere)
2017   Rootabaga Country (Commission/World Premiere)
2018   The Little Sweep


Since 1992, Sarasota Youth Opera has also offered summer workshops for young people every June. With an original enrollment of 24, the number of campers has grown to over 70. Under the direction of Sarasota Opera’s professional staff, campers experience the magic on the stage and behind the scenes as they study the many facets of opera, from music and acting to opera appreciation and production.