Sarasota Youth Opera members are in the final weeks of rehearsal for the upcoming U.S. premiere of Dean Burry's The Hobbit to be performed Friday, May 9 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, May 10 at 1:30 p.m. on the stage of Sarasota Opera House, 61 N. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota. The prequel to The Lord of the Rings, the opera recounts how the comfort-loving Bilbo Baggins, unwillingly dragged into a heroic quest, accidentally acquires the golden ring of power.
Tickets are still available for this landmark event and are $20 for adults; $15 for students; and $50 for a family pack that includes up to 2 adults and 4 students. A reception where audience members can meet the cast and composer will follow the May 9 performance. The event will feature champagne, desserts and a silent auction. Tickets to the reception, which is a fund-raiser for the program, are $25 per adult; $10 per student; and $60 for a family of up to 2 adults and 2 students.
Burry's opera, adapted from J.R.R. Tolkien's original novel, was commissioned by the Canadian Children's Opera Chorus and had its premiere in Toronto in May 2004. This was followed by an East Coast tour to Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Mr. Burry (www.deanburry.com) revised the work specifically for Sarasota Youth Opera. Lance Inouye, Sarasota Youth Opera Music Director, will conduct. Stage director for the production is Martha Collins, who most recently directed Verdi's I due Foscari for Sarasota Opera and in 2006 directed Aaron Copland's The Second Hurricane for Sarasota Youth Opera. Jeffrey W. Dean designed the sets and BG FitzGerald the costumes.The work has been received with great acclaim. Wayne Gooding of Opera Now enthused, "composer and librettist Dean Burry has followed the Tolkien original closely, fashioning a picturesque piece with a strong narrative line driven by rhythmically vital and melodic music," he wrote. "One of the recurring choruses, 'Far Over the Misty Mountains' surely promises to become a modern classic for children's choirs."
Composer Burry was born in St. John's, Newfoundland, in 1972. In 1998, he was commissioned by the Canadian Opera Company to write The Brothers Grimm, a new opera, for an annual school tour. Since 2001, it has been seen by more than 30,000 school children. Other major works include Under the Night, Rainbow Valley, and Home and Away. He also wrote the commissioned work, Isis and the Seven Scorpions.
About Sarasota Youth Opera
A vital part of the mission of Sarasota Opera, Sarasota Youth Opera provides a unique experience for young people in southwestern Florida. Established in 1984, it was one of the first programs of its kind in America. Members of the program participate in all aspects of opera production.
During the fall term, members form the Youth Opera Choruses, which perform throughout the community in formal concerts, as well as in hospitals, nursing homes and retirement centers. During the Winter Opera Festival many of them are selected to perform as the children's chorus and as supernumeraries in the main stage operas. After the festival ends, the focus shifts to the fully staged Youth Opera production, featuring a work expressly written for young people to perform. In 2004 the Sarasota Opera commissioned the world premiere of The Languages of Birds and this season produces Aaron Copland's The Second Hurricane, demonstrating Sarasota Opera's commitment to the best available musical and theatrical experiences for the Youth Opera and its audiences.
Because of the renovation of the Sarasota Opera House there was no 2007 spring production. Instead the Sarasota Youth Opera participated in an international choral festival in Tuscany, Italy.
The Sarasota Youth Opera Program is generously underwritten by the National Endowment for the Arts, Florida Arts Council, Woman's Exchange, the Appleby Foundation, HRH, the Franklin G. Berlin Foundation, Designing Women Boutique, and Publix Super Markets Charities.
About the Sarasota Opera
Based in Florida's beautiful Gulf Coast, Sarasota Opera is in now in its 49th season. In 1960 the company began presenting chamber-sized repertoire in the historic 320 seat Asolo Theater on the grounds of Sarasota's Ringling Museum of Art. 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 1,033 seat theater, now on the National Register of Historic Places, opened in 1984 as the Sarasota Opera House. 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 its OPERA-tion performances for local schools and the unique Sarasota Youth Opera program.
The Sarasota Opera House has just completed a multi-million dollar renovation and restoration. The project is 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 enlarged to allow for an expansion of the repertoire. Backstage systems have been updated and public areas and amenities expanded and enhanced. The 2008 Opera Festival opened March 1 with Verdi's Rigoletto. The season, which concluded on April 13 included Puccini's La rondine, Verdi's rarely-heard I due Foscari (The Two Foscari) and Mozart's Così fan tutte.
Subscriptions for Sarasota Opera's 50th Season will go on sale at the box office at (941) 366-8450, ext. 1, 1-888-OPERA-12, or in person at 61 N. Pineapple Avenue, Sarasota, FL 34236 on April 14, 2009. The season will open on November 7, 2009 with Rossini's The Barber of Seville for five performances through November 16. The 2009 Winter Opera Festival will open February 7 and run through March 29. The festival will include Puccini's Tosca, Donizetti's The Elixir of Love, Mascagni's L'amico Fritz, and Verdi's Don Carlos. On May 8 and 9 the Sarasota Youth Opera will present the world premiere of Little Nemo in Slumberland, written by Ned Rorem to a libretto by J.D. McClatchy. This new work has been commissioned by Sarasota Opera for Sarasota Youth Opera.
Sarasota Opera is sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Programs are supported in part by an award the Tourist Development Tax through the Board of County Commissioners, the Tourist Development Council and the Sarasota County Arts Council. Additional funding is provided by the City of Sarasota and the County of Sarasota.