Special Alert: Sarasota residents will have the opportunity to meet Robert Ward, composer of The Crucible, on Saturday, March 5, 1 p.m. at a special free presentation in the Opera House. No tickets are required for this special event.
Sarasota Opera is proud to present the first work in its newest initiative, the American Classics Series, which will bring some of America’s best-known operas to Sarasota. Robert Ward’s The Crucible, based on Arthur Miller’s Tony Award winning play, opens March 5. The opening also celebrates the 50th anniversary of the writing of the work.
The Crucible weaves a tale of lust, pride, revenge, and power against a backdrop of the 1692 Salem witch trials. The work was originally commissioned by New York City Opera in 1961 and was immediately a success with audiences and critics.
Sean Anderson, who became a favorite with Sarasota audiences after his appearances as Papageno in the 2010 production of The Magic Flute and last fall as Dandini, the prince’s valet in disguise, in La Cenerentola, returns to perform the role of John Proctor. Sean's performance in La Cenerentola was critically acclaimed in both Sarasota and Naples where Sarasota Opera's production was presented at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts in mid-November.
Also returning to Sarasota is Heather Johnson, who played the lead role in La Centerentola last fall as well as Hansel in last season’s production of Hansel and Gretel. Following her engagement here, Ms. Johnson will perform at Carnegie Hall and with the New Hampshire Music Festival and National Arts Center Orchestra in Ottawa, Canada. She also will perform Hermia in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream with Boston Lyric Opera and Rosina in Rossini's The Barber of Seville with Opera New Jersey and Opera Southwest.
Bass Jeffrey Tucker will sing the role of the witch hunter Reverend John Hale. Mr. Tucker last appeared with Sarasota Opera in the 2009 season, singing the roles of the Sacristan in Tosca and the Grand Inquisitor in Don Carlos. His recent engagements include a wide range of characters including Trulove in The Rake's Progress with Toledo Opera, Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor with Opera Roanoke, Death and the Loudspeaker in Ullmann's dramatic The Emperor of Atlantis, and Popoff in the Oscar Straus's operetta The Chocolate Soldier with Bard Summerscape in upstate New York. Directly before arriving in Sarasota for rehearsals of The Crucible, Jeff sang the bass part in Stavinsky's Pulcinella with Utah Symphony.
Tenor Mathew Edwardsen sings the role of Judge Danforth. he made his Sarasota Opera debut in 2010 as a member of the Studio Artist Program, performing the roles of First Armored Man and Second Priest in The Magic Flute. In 2009 Mr. Edwardsen made role debuts as Frederick in The Pirates of Penzance with Opera Santa Barbara, as Turiddu in Cavalleria Rusticana with Livermore Valley Opera and as Cavaradossi in Opera Fairbanks’ production of Tosca with Met artist Cynthia Lawrence in the title role. Mr. Edwardsen is also singing the role of Arvino in the current production of I Lombardi.
David Neely returns to conduct the Sarasota Opera Orchestra for this production. Other operas he has conducted here are: L'amico Fritz in 2009, La rondine in 2008, Halka in 2007, and Die Fledermaus in 2006. Michael Schweikardt designed the set and Howard Tsvi Kaplan, the costumes. Ken Yunker is lighting designer and hair and make-up designer is Georgianna Eberhard.
Tickets for the opening performance of The Crucible are still available and start at $19. There will be an additional five performances through March 19.
Other operas being performed in repertory during the Festival are Puccini’s La bohème, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and Giuseppe Verdi’s I Lombardi. Tickets are available now at the Box Office in the Pavilion Building of the Sarasota Opera House, by phone at (941) 328-1300, or online at www.sarasotaopera.org.