Youth Opera Information

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Since 1984, Sarasota Youth Opera has given countless young people age 8 and above an opportunity to experience the magic of opera through participation in choruses, Sarasota Opera's main stage productions, and the Youth Opera's own productions.

Accepting everyone who applies, regardless of skill level or ability to pay, this program is unique in the opera world. 
Read more.

For more information:
call (941)366-8450 ext. 249

Interested in supporting Youth Opera programs? Learn more 

Come Perform With Us!
This fall, Sarasota Youth Opera will present world premiere of Rachel J. Peter’s Rootabaga Country. Adapted from Carl Sandburg’s 1922 book Rootabaga Stories, the opera introduces Gimme the Ax and his two children, Please Gimme and Ax Me No Questions, who have sold their possessions as they prepare to travel to Rootabaga Country, a land in the sky.
Throughout the journey the family is provided with opportunities to connect with the mother they never knew and, at the conclusion, the knowledge that families come in all shapes and sizes. All singers enrolled for the Fall 2017 Semester will appear in the world premiere of Rootabaga Country
Families are invited to see what Sarasota Youth Opera is all about at our upcoming enrollment sessions.

Young people ages 8 to 18 and their parents/guardians

There will be multiple enrollment sessions based on age:

Tuesday, August 8 from 5:30-7:00 pm (for ages 11-18)
Thursday, August 10 from 5:30-6:30 pm (for ages 11-18)
Saturday, August 12 from 10:00 - 10:45am (girls ages 8 - 10)
Saturday, August 12 from 10:45 - 11:30am (boys ages 8 - 10)

To Reserve Your Space
Click here for online registration

No prior experience necessary | Families need only attend one session
All singers enrolled for the Fall 2017 Semester will appear in the world premiere of Rootabaga Country

Please contact us at or 941-328-1307



YO Team

Youth Opera Staff

Originally from Brazil, Jesse Martins (Youth Opera Music Director) holds a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (2007) in South Brazil and a Master of Arts in Collaborative Piano from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania (2011) where he was the Assistant Coach for Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. This summer Mr. Martins was the official accompanist for the Mansfield University’s Concert Choir UK Tour performing in London, Stratford, Kilkenney, Killarney, Dublin and at the Eisteddfod International Competition in Wales.

From 2008-2010, Mr. Martins served as the Assistant Music Director and Program Manager at the Opera Factory Theater in Auckland (New Zealand) – a training center for young singers – where he fulfilled the roles of Repetiteur, Assistant Music Director, and Music Director. In addition to his work on the main stage productions, Mr. Martins served as principal pianist for master classes lead by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Dame Malvina Major, and accompanied singers in coaching sessions with British Maestros Sir Andrew Davis, and Wyn Davis; Brian Castles-Onion (Australia), Joel-Hornak (France), Linda Kitchen, and Aidan Lang.  During his time in New Zealand, he collaborated with other Auckland based groups such as NBR NZ Opera (Janacek’s Jenufa, and Recitals with the Emerging and Resident Artists). He also had the opportunity to receive guidance from vocal coaches Rosemary Barnes, Terrence Dennis and David Harper.

Ben Jewell-Plocher (Director of Education) holds a BM with honors from Butler University in Indianapolis and an MM in vocal performance from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. At Butler, he appeared in numerous productions and oratorio works including Trouble in Tahiti (Trio), Handel’s Messiah (Soloist), and Company (Paul). Credits include Carmen and La fille du regiment (Indianapolis Opera), Dido and Aeneas (Sorcerer) and The Tender Land (Top) with Meadows Opera Theatre, Of Mice and Men and La Cenerentola with Fort Worth Opera Festival, and The Tender Land (Top) at the Georgetown Festival of the Arts in Georgetown, TX.

Administratively, Ben served as Operations Manager for the Indianapolis Children’s Choir from 2006-2007 and as a member of the residence life faculty at Interlochen Arts Academy from 2009-2011. Ben also worked behind-the-scenes for three seasons at the St. Louis MUNY, with production credits including The Little Mermaid, Footloose, Damn Yankees, and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.