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2011 Press Releases

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Sarasota Opera Sets Madama Butterly Free

April 13, 2011

 Denise Kowal                                                   Samuel Lowry
Chalk Festival Event Chair                                Communications Officer                     
) 374-4790                                               (941) 328-1322


Sarasota Opera Sets Madama Butterly Free

Sarasota, Florida – Sarasota Opera, as part of their fall 2011 production of Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, is honored to partner with the Avenida de Colores for the 4th Annual Sarasota Chalk Festival November 6, 2011.   Avenida de Colores and Sarasota Opera will present excerpts from Madama Butterfly on an outdoor stage with sets created in chalk by Baltimore designer and artist Michael Kirby.

Michael Kirby, who was described by the Los Angeles Times as “one of the best street painters in the world”, creates dynamic 3D chalk art around the world.  His technique of using sharp angles and adjusting the image to the viewer’s point of view was adapted from Kirby's time while creating sets and props for Opera companies and Movie/TV sets.  Mr. Kirby will work with local artisan Kumpa Tawornprom and contractor Richard Hoffman to create this unique performance venue.  Of the project, Mr. Kirby says, “Unlike traditional opera sets where the best seats are center and level to the stage, this set will focus on the floor paintings and the seating will be stadium style”. 

Michael Kirby approached Chalk Festival founder Denise Kowal with his idea and she brought it to the opera.  “I felt this was an excellent promotional opportunity for everyone to get in front of people who have never or may never have an operatic experience.”   

Sarasota Opera has full confidence this innovative project will be a true success for all parties involved.  “Based off the success and praise of the Sarasota Chalk Festival, we knew that when Denise Kowal approached us, partnered with the idea would be the highest quality artists, craftsmen and designers”, says Susan Danis, Executive Director.  “We have full confidence this partnership will again illustrate the high level of artistry that exists here in Sarasota.” 

The Sarasota Chalk Festival will run from November 1 – 7, 2011 and is accessible and free to all.  Over 250 artists participated in the 2010 event and over 2000 children created impromptu works of art when it became the first international street painting festival in the United States.  This year, The Sarasota Chalk Festival will be expecting 80,000 – 100,000 people in attendance, both national and international visitors.     

About Sarasota Chalk Festival

All proceeds from the Sarasota Chalk Festival benefit the Avenida de Colores, Inc. 501(c)(3) volunteer non-profit arts organization that produces the festival.  The Sarasota Chalk Festival is an international cultural performing arts festival that focuses on the ephemeral art form of street painting where artists use the street surface as their canvas and chalk as their medium.  The goal of the event is to build community using Asset Based Community Development models and focus on tourism that brings economic growth and cultural benefits to Sarasota County.  To learn more about the 2011 Sarasota Chalk Festival, please visit their website at