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Celebrate Sarasota Opera’s 50th Season with Opening Gala

Sarasota Opera will celebrate its 50th Season with the most anticipated event of the year, the Opening Gala!

January 8, 2009

Patricia Horwell - Communications Officer - (941) 366-8450, ext. 332

Sarasota Opera will celebrate its 50th Season with the most anticipated event of the year, the Opening Gala!
The festivities will begin at 4 p.m. as Giacomo Puccini’s passionate opera, Tosca, is performed in the 1926 historic William A. Schmidt Opera Theatre in the Sarasota Opera House. This is a return of the company’s most acclaimed production, last performed here in 2004. It will be directed by Stephanie Sundine, featuring sets designed for Sarasota Opera by David P. Gordon. Artistic Director Victor DeRenzi will conduct the orchestra.  Kara Shay Thomson, is making her Sarasota Opera debut as Floria Tosca, a role she has performed with Central City Opera and Opera North. Also in his first season with Sarasota Opera, Grant Youngblood appears as Scarpia, which he performed with New York City Opera, Orlando Opera, Connecticut Opera and Dayton Opera. Rafael Dávila, who played the Duke of Mantua in last season’s production of Rigoletto, returns to Sarasota to portray Tosca’s lover, Cavaradossi.
Following the final applause, those holding reservations to the Gala Dinner will adjourn to an elegant tent behind the Opera House for the sumptuous opening night dinner and dancing. The event chairs are Betsy Bagby and Patricia Silver. Additional sponsors include John Elliott, Les and Carol Brualdi, and Arlene and Henry Jacobs. Williams Parker is the corporate sponsor and SRQ Media Group, the media sponsor. Catered by Michael’s On East, the evening will begin with hors d’oeuvres and cocktails and continue with a three-course gourmet meal. Music for dancing will be provided by the Abe Guard Orchestra.
Tickets for the Opening performance of Tosca are still available and start at $30.  There will an additional eleven performances through March 29. Reservations for the Opening Gala Dinner, which do not include the performance, are $200 per person. Call the Box Office at (941) 366-8450, ext. 1, or order online at
About Sarasota Opera
Based in Florida’s beautiful Gulf Coast, Sarasota Opera is celebrating its 50th Season in 2008-09. In 1958 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 and first performing in it in 1984 as the Sarasota Opera House. The theater has just undergone a $20-million renovation and rehabilitation enhancing audience amenities, while updating the technical facilities including increasing the size of the orchestra pit. The theater, which reopened in March 2008, has been called “one of America’s finest venues for opera” by Musical America.
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 2009 Sarasota Opera Winter Opera Festival will return beginning on 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.
Subscriptions and single tickets for Sarasota Opera's 50th Season are on sale at the box office at (941) 366-8450, ext. 1, 1-888-OPERA-12, in person at 61 N. Pineapple Avenue, Sarasota, FL 34236, or online at