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2011 Press Releases

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High Praise for Sarasota Opera’s 2011 Winter Season

April 8, 2011

Samuel Lowry
Communications Officer
(941) 328-1322

High Praise for Sarasota Opera’s 2011 Winter Season
“Sarasota Opera has performed a miracle: It has presented Giacomo Puccini’s enormously
popular ‘La Boheme’ in a production that brings this evergreen work to life almost completely
fresh and new”
- Richard Storm, Sarasota Herald Tribune
“…in the production by Sarasota Opera, Mozart’s masterpiece was probably as close to its
original concept as you could get. The result was an evening of truly satisfying music-making
and theater.”
- June LeBell, The Longboat Observer, in reference to Sarasota Opera’s Don Giovanni
“DeRenzi conducted a musically impressive performance of I Lombardi, cast with vocal
standouts like Metropolitan Opera veteran bass Kevin Short as the redemptive villain Pagano
and tenor Rafael Davilà as the Muslim lover Oronte. The booming ensemble voices showed off
Verdi’s score with plenty of thrilling bombast.”
- Scott C. Morgan, Windy City Times
“Now Sarasota Opera has revived the work in an excellent, often stirring production to launch
its American Classics Series.”
- John Fleming, St. Petersburg Times, in reference to Sarasota Opera’s The Crucible
April 8, 2011 – Sarasota Opera’s Spring Verdi Concert on March 22nd marked the close
of Sarasota Opera’s 53rd Winter Festival Season to critical acclaim across the board.
Ticket sales remained strong from last season and all four productions received
consistently high praise for the duration of the season. The 2011 season featured the
return of classics such as Puccini’s La bohème and Mozart’s Don Giovanni; the
continuation of the Verdi Cycle with the riveting but rarely staged I Lombardi alla prima
crociata; and the introduction of our new American Classics series with the Sarasota
Opera premiere of Robert Ward’s The Crucible.
Stars familiar to Sarasota audiences returned again this year and delivered top shelf
performances. Soprano Maria D’Amato melted the hearts of the audience with her
portrayal of Mimi in La bohème; Heather Johnson brought nobleness and strength to the
character of Elizabeth Proctor in The Crucible; Kevin Short brought his powerful bassbaritone
voice to the role of Pagano and Rafael Davilà displayed his lyrical and strong
tenor voice in his portrayal of Oronte both in the rarely seen Verdi opera I Lombardi alla
prima crociata;
This season also marked important Sarasota Opera debuts for several new stars on the
opera stage. Gayle Williams of the Herald Tribune stated, “The rich voice of Christina
Piers’ Donna Anna was a delight to hear”; “Lee Poulis makes a lithe, young, virile Don
Giovanni” commented June LeBell of the Longboat Key Observer; and former Studio
Artist, now Principal Artist, Abla Lynn Hamza, brought vocal virtuosity to the
demanding role of Giselda in I Lombardi alla prima crociata. John Fleming, St.
Petersburg Times, noted, “Abla Lynn Hamza gave a strong performance in a wide range
of styles, from the prayerful Salve Maria to her fiery denunciation of the crusader’s
Adding to Sarasota Opera’s extensive list of artistic milestones, 2011 brought the
introduction of Sarasota Opera’s latest initiative; the American Classics series which
was inaugurated with our production of Robert Ward’s Pulitzer Prize winning opera The
Crucible based on the Arthur Miller play of the same name. Recognizing the great
artistic merit of these homegrown American works, Sarasota Opera has dedicated to
present one American Opera each winter season.
The Sarasota Opera Artistic and Production staff literally built the entire production from
the ground up. Jeff Ellis, Director of Production, oversaw the creation and construction
of set designer Michael Schweikardt’s vision and the incredible talent of the Costume
Department breathed life into Costume Designer Howard Tsvi Kaplan’s sketches. The
93 years young Robert Ward himself was in attendance opening night of the opera and
stated, “I think this is the best production of my opera that has ever been done.”
The 2011-2012 Season has been announced! This fall, Sarasota Opera will feature
Puccini’s beloved Madama Butterfly running October 28 through November 15. The
2012 Winter Festival Season will run February 11 through March 25, 2012 and include
Bizet’s fiery Carmen, Donizetti’s heartbreaking Lucia di Lammermoor, the Sarasota
Opera debut of Verdi’s Otello continuing the Verdi Cycle, and Samuel Barber’s beautiful
Vanessa will serve as the second installment of the American Classics series.
Subscriptions are on sale by calling (941) 328-1300 or visiting the Sarasota Opera Box
Office. Single tickets will go on sale August 1 online ( and
September 1 at the Box Office.