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Sarasota Opera’s Winter Festival to feature Verdi's Giovanna d'Arco

December 10, 2009

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

As Sarasota Opera enters its 51st season it continues its acclaimed Verdi Cycle and Masterworks Revival Series with the production of Verdi’s Giovanna d’Arco. First performed in Milan in 1845, Verdi’s version of the story of Joan of Arc wasn’t brought to the U.S. until 1966, when a concert version was performed at New York City’s Carnegie Hall. The first fully staged performance of the opera was given by the New York Grand Opera at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1976. In Sarasota, this rarely performed opera will be led by renowned Verdi conductor Victor DeRenzi, artistic director of Sarasota Opera. There will be six performances of the work through between March 6 and 20. This is the 26th work in the Verdi Cycle series given by Sarasota Opera.
Sarasota Opera’s production will feature Cristina Castaldi, who is making her debut at Sarasota Opera, as Giovanna d’Arco . Ms. Castaldi most recently sang the role of Donna Elvira in Connecticut Grand Opera’s production of Don Giovanni as well as a number of roles with other companies.  Rafael Dávila, was lauded for his role as Cavaradossi in Sarasota Opera’s production of Tosca last season and is a Sarasota Opera favorite, returns to sing the role of Carlo VII. And Marco Nisticò, another Sarasota favorite, who most recently received praise for his portrayal of Giorgio Germont in Sarasota’s fall production of La traviata, returns to sing the role of Giacomo.

The production will be directed by Martha Collins, who has directed La traviata, The Elixir of Love, I due Foscari and Attila for Sarasota Opera, with sets designed by Jeffrey W. Dean. Sarasota Opera artistic director Victor DeRenzi will conduct.
Three additional operas will be presented in Sarasota Opera’s repertory this season. The double bill of Cavalleria rusticana/ by Pietro Mascagni and Pagliacci by Mascagni and Ruggero Leoncavallo will open February 6. The other operas in the repertoire include Mozart’s the The Magic Flute and Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel (sung in English). In 1989 Sarasota embarked on the Verdi Cycle, which will see the production of all of the composer’s music. The non-operatic works have been performed in concert settings, while each one of Verdi’s operas will be produced in a full production and will include separate performance of significant revisions.
Tickets for Giovanna d’Arco, as well as for the other operas in the Sarasota Opera 2010 Winter Opera Festival start at $19 and are available from the Sarasota Opera box office at (941) 366-8450 or online at, where opera patrons can now choose their own seats as they order.

2010 Winter Opera Festival
Cavalleria rusticana by Pietro Mascagni and Pagliacci by Ruggero Leoncavallo
Sung in Italian with English supertitles
February 6 at 5 p.m.
February 9, 17, 25, March 12, 19, and 21 at 8 p.m.
February 14 and 28 at 1:30 p.m.
Sarasota Opera's Winter Opera Festival opens with this perennial double bill. The warm sun of Sicily on an Easter Sunday ignites heated passions in Cavalleria rusticana while the betrayed clown of Pagliacci must go on with the show leading to a tragic end. The dramatic power and music of both operas made them instant successes and favorites of opera-lovers for over a century.
The Magic Flute by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Sung in German with English supertitles
February 13, 16, 18, 26, March 3, 7, 13, and 18 at 8 p.m.
February 21 and March 21 at 1:30 p.m.
Mozart's final opera mixes light-hearted comedy with high-minded morals. Prince Tamino must face numerous challenges to find and win his beloved Pamina, aided by the bird catcher Papageno. The Magic Flute is one of the most enduringly popular of Mozart's works.
Hansel and Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck
Sung in English with supertitles
February 27 at 8 p.m.
March 2, 4, and 10 at 7 p.m.
March 7 and 13 at 1:30 p.m.
Who can fail to be captivated by the spell of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale? Hansel and Gretel is an opera with something for everyone. Humperdinck's rich orchestration and melodic score is a favorite of sophisticated opera-goers while children and families love the magical story of the brother and sister who outwit the wicked witch.
Giovanna d’Arco (Joan of Arc) by Giuseppe Verdi
Verdi Cycle and Masterworks Revival Series
Sung in Italian with English supertitles
March 6, 9, 11 and 17 at 8 p.m.
March 14 and 20 at 1:30 p.m.
Verdi achieved an early success with this retelling of the story of the French warrior-saint. This rarely heard opera is rich with stirring choruses, imaginative orchestral writing and an abundance of arching melodies. Giovanna d'Arco will be the 26th work in Sarasota Opera’s internationally-acclaimed Verdi Cycle.