Sarasota Opera Announces Its 50th Season

Sarasota Opera celebrates its 50th Season in 2008-2009 with four new productions, a return of its most critically acclaimed production, and an expansion of its season.

April 14, 2008

Richard Russell, Director of Marketing
(941) 366-8450, ext. 245

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

Sarasota, FL – Sarasota Opera celebrates its 50th Season in 2008-2009 with four new productions, a return of its most critically acclaimed production, and an expansion of its season. The company will mount its first fall opera season with five performances of a new production Rossini's perennial The Barber of Seville in November. The company's traditional Winter Opera Festival will return with four more operas in February and March 2009. The season will conclude in May with the world premiere of a new opera by Ned Rorem and J.D. McClatchy based on Winsor McCay's comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland. This work has been commissioned by Sarasota Opera and will be performed by the Sarasota Youth Opera.

2008-2009 will mark the fiftieth season for the company which formed in 1960 to present a touring company in the Historic Asolo Theatre on the grounds of the Ringling Museum in Sarasota. In 1972 they began mounting their own productions and in 1984 the company moved to the former A.B. Edwards Theatre, which was renamed the Sarasota Opera House. The Opera House underwent a $20 million restoration and renovation during 2007-08 and reopened in March 1, 2008.

The November 2008 production of the Rossini favorite will mark the first time that the company has mounted a fully-staged opera in the fall. The Barber of Seville will open on November 7, 2008, with additional performances on Nov. 9 (mat.), 12, 14 and 16 (mat.). The opera will be presented in a new production built especially for Sarasota Opera and conducted by its Artistic Director Victor DeRenzi.

The 2009 Winter Opera Festival returns to its normal two-month schedule opening on February 7 with Sarasota Opera's acclaimed production of Puccini's Tosca. The festival will run through March 29, 2009. The company last presented this opera in the 2004 season which will again be directed by Stephanie Sundine, with sets by David P. Gordon, costumes by Howard Tsvi Kaplan and conducted by Victor DeRenzi. Additional performances will take place on February 10, 15 (mat.), 18, 22, March 6, 12, 14 (mat.), 18, 20, 26, and 29 (mat.).

The season will continue with a new production of Donizetti's The Elixir of Love. This popular opera has been absent from the Sarasota Opera stage since 1986. The performances of The Elixir of Love will take place on February 14, 17, 19, 22 (mat.), 25, March 8, 13, 21 (mat.), 24, and 27.

The Sarasota Opera Masterworks Revival series returns on February 21, 2009, when the company mounts a new production of Mascagni's L'amico Fritz. After his initial success with the torrid Cavalleria rusticana, the pastoral beauty of this, his second work, provided a dramatic change of pace. The opera received frequent performances in Italy during the composer's lifetime, but has been rarely heard in the United States. Additional performances of L'amico Fritz will take place on February 24, 26, March 1 (mat.), 8 (mat.), 11, 14, and 21.

Sarasota Opera continues its critically acclaimed Verdi Cycle with a new production of the composer's epic Don Carlos. Don Carlos will be presented in the four act revised version and sung in French as Verdi composed it. The original five-act Paris version will be performed in a later season. Acclaimed Verdi specialist Victor DeRenzi will conduct, as he has all of the other Verdi operas in the cycle. Performances of Don Carlos will take place on March 7, 10, 15 (mat.), 19, 22 (mat.), 25, and 28.

On May 8 and 9, 2009, the Sarasota Youth Opera will present the world premiere of a new opera that has been commissioned by Sarasota Opera for the program. Little Nemo in Slumberland is being composed by Pulitzer Prize winning composer Ned Rorem to a libretto by poet and librettist J.D. McClatchy. The opera is based on Winsor McCay's comic strip of the same name, which ran in New York newspapers 1905 through 1913. The new opera is part of a continuing series of commission by Sarasota Opera to expand the repertoire of operas appropriate for young voices. The Sarasota Youth Opera is a unique year-round program which involves young people from 8 to 18 in the production and performance of operatic works.

Artists from the 2008 season who will return in 2008-09 include baritone Marco Nisticò, bass Young-Bok Kim, tenor Rafael Dávila, bass Stephen Eisenhard, tenor Benjamin Warschawski, baritone Michael Corvino, bass Jeffrey Tucker, and stage director Stephanie Sundine. Also returning from earlier seasons will be soprano Julianna DiGiacomo and bass Kevin Short. Complete casting will be announced at a later date.

Subscriptions for Sarasota Opera's Fiftieth Season go on sale on April 14th. Single tickets will go on sale on September 1, 2008. Subscribers will be able to select a four opera Winter Opera Festival series, with the option to add the November production of The Barber of Seville and/or the May Youth Opera performance of Little Nemo in Slumberland to their subscriptions. Subscription information is available from the Sarasota Opera Box Office at 61 N. Pineapple Avenue, Sarasota, FL 34236 or by calling (941) 366-8450, ext. 1.

About the Sarasota Opera

Based in Florida's beautiful Gulf Coast, Sarasota Opera is in now in its 49th season. In 1960 the company began presenting chamber-sized repertoire in the historic 320 seat Asolo Theater on the grounds of Sarasota's Ringling Museum of Art. Recognizing the need for a theater more conducive to opera, the company purchased the former A.B. Edwards Theater in downtown Sarasota in 1979. Renovations began in 1982 and the 1,033 seat theater, now on the National Register of Historic Places, opened in 1984 as the Sarasota Opera House. Since 1983 the company has been under the artistic leadership of Victor DeRenzi. Since then the company has garnered international attention with its Masterwork Revivals Series, which presents neglected works of artistic merit, as well as the Verdi Cycle producing the complete works of Giuseppe Verdi. Recognizing the importance of training, Maestro DeRenzi founded the Apprentice Artist and Studio Artist programs. Sarasota Opera also maintains a commitment to education through its OPERA-tion performances for local schools and the unique Sarasota Youth Opera program.

The Sarasota Opera House has just completed a multi-million dollar renovation and restoration. The project is designed to restore the historic 1926 theater to its original glory, while creating a venue for opera for the 21st century. Decorative details have been restored, seating has been replaced, and the orchestra pit enlarged to allow for an expansion of the repertoire. Backstage systems have been updated and public areas and amenities expanded and enhanced. The 2008 Opera Festival opened March 1 with Verdi's Rigoletto. The season, which concluded on April 13 included Puccini's La rondine, Verdi's rarely-heard I due Foscari (The Two Foscari) and Mozart's Così fan tutte.

Subscriptions for Sarasota Opera's 50th Season will go on sale at the box office at (941) 366-8450, ext. 1, 1-888-OPERA-12, or in person at 61 N. Pineapple Avenue, Sarasota, FL 34236 on April 14, 2009. The season will open on November 7, 2009 with Rossini's The Barber of Seville for five performances through November 16. The 2009 Winter Opera Festival will open February 7 and run through March 29. The festival will include Puccini's Tosca, Donizetti's The Elixir of Love, Mascagni's L'amico Fritz, and Verdi's Don Carlos. On May 8 and 9 the Sarasota Youth Opera will present the world premiere of Little Nemo in Slumberland, written by Ned Rorem to a libretto by J.D. McClatchy. This new work has been commissioned by Sarasota Opera for Sarasota Youth Opera.

Sarasota Opera is sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Programs are supported in part by an award the Tourist Development Tax through the Board of County Commissioners, the Tourist Development Council and the Sarasota County Arts Council. Additional funding is provided by the City of Sarasota and the County of Sarasota.