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January 11, 2013

Sam Lowry, Communications Officer
(941) 328-1322

Sarasota Opera Prepares for 2013 Winter Festival Opening February 9

Highlights include:

Sarasota Opera premiere of Turandot starring soprano Brenda Harris in the title role

February 12th performance of Turandot will mark
Maestro DeRenzi’s 600th performance with Sarasota Opera

Remount of The Pearl Fishers (Les Pêcheurs de perles) by popular demand

World premiere of the new critical edition of Verdi’s
A King for a Day (Un giorno di regno)

Sarasota Opera premiere of Carlisle Floyd’s Of Mice and Men

Sarasota Opera to host “A Conversation with Composer Carlisle Floyd”
On Saturday, March 9, 2013


The 2013 Sarasota Opera Winter Festival will open with the Sarasota Opera premiere of Giacomo Puccini’s vocally extravagant final opera Turandot on Saturday, February 9, 2013, which features some of the composers most glorious music including the famous tenor aria “Nessun Dorma” (None shall sleep).  Set in Ancient China, Turandot is based on an ancient Persian fairy tale which tells the story of a beautiful princess for whom men travel the world over to win the heart of by solving three riddles.  Answer correctly and win her eternal love.  Answer incorrectly and lose your head.

Soprano Brenda Harris and tenor Jonathan Burton will both make their Sarasota Opera and role debuts as the icy Turandot and the determined prince Calaf.  Possessing a voice that has been described as “drop dead gorgeous” and “soaring on high”, Ms. Harris has established herself as one of America’s finest sopranos tackling leading roles on some of the world’s most prominent opera stages including the Metropolitan Opera, Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Washington National Opera, and the Canadian Opera Company among others.  Mr. Burton is quickly establishing himself as a leading tenor to watch winning acclaim for his recent appearances at Central City Opera, Palm Beach Opera, and Opera Omaha.  Opera News praised Mr. Burton as “an engaging all-around singer with a powerful, full-bodied sound.”   

Rounding out the cast will be soprano Maria Natale as the slave girl Liù, bass Young Bok Kim as Calaf’s father, Timur, and baritone Matthew Hanscom as Ping.  This brand new production will be directed by Stephanie Sundine and conducted by Maestro Victor DeRenzi who will be celebrating his 600th performance as Artistic Director of Sarasota Opera on February 12th.               

The Pearl Fishers
Following Turandot will be the much in demand remount of Georges Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers ( Les Pêcheurs de perles ), a proven favorite of Sarasota Opera audiences.  Last seen in 2003, The Pearl Fishers begins with the famously infectious Act I duet for tenor and baritone “Au fond du temple saint”, in which our two heroes, Nadir and Zurga, reaffirm their pact of eternal friendship.  But when the object of their mutual desires, the priestess Léïla, suddenly returns their friendship is threatened igniting a dangerous triangle of forbidden love.

Baritone Lee Poulis, who made his debut in 2011 as the sinister Don Giovanni and was last seen as the conniving Lord Enrico Ashton in Lucia di Lammermoor, will sing the role of Zurga.  Tenor Heath Huberg, last seasons Remendado in Carmen and Cassio in Otello, will sing Nadir.  Soprano Asako Tamura, who sang Cio-Cio San in the 2011 production of Madama Butterfly as “beautifully as her superb acting”, returns to make her role debut as the priestess Léïla. 

Maestro Robert Tweten will conduct and, making her Sarasota Opera debut, Keturah Stickann will serve as director and choreographer.  Maestro Tweten currently serves as Head of Music Staff at Santa Fe Opera in addition to serving as guest conductor for productions at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Vancouver Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, and the Canadian Opera Company.   Ms. Stickann’s directing and choreographic credits include San Francisco Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Florida Grand Opera, and New York City Opera.                

Un giorno di regno
Sarasota Opera will present Giuseppe Verdi’s charming comedy A King for a Day ( Un giorno di regno ), the composer’s second opera and first comedy.  This production will serve as the world premiere of the new critical edition which uses as its principal source Verdi’s own manuscript.   In this opera, the King
of Poland hides from his enemies by asking an unknown knight, Belfiore, to impersonate him.  Recognizing the unique advantages associated with impersonating a king, Belfiore ends up not only enabling his own happy ending by weaving a web of amorous intrigues, but the happy ending of others as well.  A true Verdi rarity, A King for a Day will be the 29th installment in the company’s continuing Verdi Cycle.

Of this production, Artistic Director Maestro Victor DeRenzi says, “It is part of our artistic vision to present all of Verdi’s rarely performed works along with the more mainstream pieces.  Our audience has come to recognize and appreciate the artistic value of these early works, and we are proud to be one of the only opera companies in the United States to present them.”  2013 also marks the 200th anniversary of Verdi’s birth.

Baritone Corey Crider will make his role and Sarasota Opera debut leading the cast as the Cavaliere of Belfiore.  Mr. Crider was recently praised by the Chicago Tribune for his appearance as Malatesta in the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of Don Pasquale saying, “The American lyric baritone sang and acted with confident swagger.”  Another notable debut will be mezzo-soprano Jennifer Feinstein as Marchesa of Poggio.  Ms. Feinstein won praise for her recent performance with Opera Orchestra of New York at Lincoln Center in Andrea Chénier alongside famed tenor Roberto Alagna.  

Returning favorites include bass-baritone Stefano de Peppo as Baron of Kelbar, tenor Hak Soo Kim, just seen this past fall as The Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto, as Edoardo of Sanval, and bass-baritone Kevin Short, as Lord La Rocca.  Mr. Short, a regular at the Metropolitan Opera, will return to Sarasota Opera after recent performances in Bern, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and the Bregenz Festival in Austria.  Maestro Victor DeRenzi will conduct and Martha Collins, who recently directed the recent Saraosta Youth Opera world premiere of Little Nemo in Slumberland, will return to direct.     

Of Mice and Men
A continuation of the American Classics Series, Sarasota Opera will present Carlisle Floyd’s Of Mice and Men .   Premiered in 1970 at Seattle Opera, Mr. Floyd adapted the opera from the novella and play by John Steinbeck and wrote both the music and libretto himself.  The opera stays faithful to Steinbeck’s story of two depression era workers, George Milton and Lennie Small, struggling for work as they pursue their American dream of owning their own farm one day.  However, when a hard and cruel world forces them down a different path, George and Lennie are forced to say goodbye to the bright horizon they had envisioned for themselves.

Baritone Sean Anderson, who gave what was referred to by Opera News as a “richly diabolical performance” as Iago in last season’s Otello, returns to his American roots to make his role debut as George.  He will be joined by tenor Corey Bix as Lennie whose recent portrayal of the same role at Utah Opera
was called a “tour-de-force performance” by the Salt Lake Tribune.  Mr. Bix, who just last season made his Carnegie Hall debut, has been recently seen at Washington National Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and the Vienna Volksoper. 

Michael Unger will return to direct and Maestro David Neely, the recently appointed Music Director and Principal Conductor for Des Moines Metro Opera, will conduct.  

The four productions will run in rotation from February 9 through March 24, 2013.


A Conversation with Composer Carlisle Floyd
Composer Carlisle Floyd, one of opera’s foremost composers and librettists, will be interviewed by Artistic Director Victor DeRenzi on the creation of his opera Of Mice and Men on Saturday, March 9, at 1pm.  Admission is $5 and tickets can be purchased either online at or by calling (941) 328-1300.     

American Classics Series Education Events
As was done in previous seasons, Sarasota Opera will again partner with the Sarasota Film Festival and the FSU/Asolo Conservatory to present its series of popular education events specifically designed to help familiarize and educate the Sarasota Opera audience about this important work.  More information on these events can be found online at or by calling the box office at (941) 328-1300.


Sarasota Opera’s 2012-2013 Season

Sarasota Opera Premiere
Lyric drama in three acts and five scenes (two intermissions) by Giacomo Puccini
Libretto by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni
Based on the play of the same name by Carlo Gozzi
Final duet and finale of the opera completed by Franco Alfano
Sung in Italian with English supertitles

Sarasota Opera House
Performances (11):  February 9 – March 23

Turandot:  Brenda Harris †
Calaf:  Jonathan Burton †
Liù:  Maria Natale †
Timur:  Young Bok Kim
Ping:  Matthew Hanscom

Conductor:  Victor DeRenzi
Stage Director:  Stephanie Sundine
Scenic Designer:  Michael Schweikardt
Costume Coordinator:  Howard Tsvi Kaplan
Lighting Designer:  Ken Yunker

†  Sarasota Opera Debut

The Pearl Fishers (Les Pěcheurs de perles)
Opera in three acts and four scenes (two intermissions) by Georges Bizet
Libretto by Michel Carré and Eugène Cormon
Sung in French with English supertitles

Sarasota Opera House
Performances (9):  February 16 – March 22

Nadir:  Heath Huberg
Zurga:  Lee Poulis
Leila:  Asako Tamura
Nourabad:  Andrew Gangestad

Conductor:  Robert Tweten
Stage Director:  Keturah Stickann †
Scenic Designer:  J. Michael Wingfield
Costume Designer:  Howard Tsvi Kaplan
Lighting Designer:  Ken Yunker

†  Sarasota Opera Debut


A King for a Day ( Un giorno di regno )
World Premiere of the New Critical Edition
Melodramma giocoso in two acts (one intermission) by Giuseppe Verdi
Poetry by Felice Romani
Sung in Italian with English supertitles

Sarasota Opera House
Performances (7):  March 2 – 24

The Cavaliere of Belfiore:  Corey Crider †
The Baron of Kelbar:  Stefano de Peppo
The Marchesa of Poggio:  Jennifer Feinstein †
Giulietta of Kelbar:  Danielle Walker
Edoardo of Sanval:  Hak Soo Kim
La Rocca:  Kevin Short

Conductor:  Victor DeRenzi
Stage Director:  Martha Collins
Scenic Designer:  Jeffrey Dean
Costume Designer:  Howard Tsvi Kaplan
Lighting Designer:  Ken Yunker

†  Sarasota Opera Debut

Of Mice and Men  
Sarasota Opera Premiere
A musical drama in three acts, five scenes (two intermissions)
Music and libretto by Carlisle Floyd after the novel and play of the same name by John Steinbeck
Sung in English with English supertitles
Performances (6):  March 9- 23

Lennie Small:  Corey Bix †
George Milton:  Sean Anderson
Slim:  Matthew Hanscom
Candy:  Andrew Gangestad

Conductor:  David Neely
Stage Director:  Michael Unger
Scenic Designer:  John Conklin
Costume Designer:  Howard Tsvi Kaplan
Lighting Designer:  Ken Yunker

†  Sarasota Opera Debut