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Sarasota Opera to close Verdi Cycle with Verdi Festival

February 16, 2016

Samuel Lowry, Director of Audience Development
(941) 328-1322

 “Whether you’ve seen it once or a hundred times, this is a production worth attending. In every way, it’s worthy of the world-wide attention the Verdi Cycle is getting for the Sarasota Opera.”
 ̶ June LeBell, The Observer on Aida

“Definitely worth the wait… The opening night performance achieved a very high level of excellence, clearly spotlighting Sarasota Opera’s position as an important regional company.”
  -- Richard Storm, Herald Tribune on Aida

“One of the most significant achievements in the opera world.”
 ̶ John Fleming, Tampa Bay Times on the Verdi Cycle


Sarasota, FL – Sarasota Opera’s 2016 Winter Opera Festival season, a landmark in the company’s 57 year history, will mark the final year of the Verdi Cycle, a 28-season initiative to perform the complete works of Giuseppe Verdi. The season will culminate in a Verdi Festival Week March 15 – 20 which will include performances of Verdi’s Aida and The Battle of Legnano, two concerts of Verdi’s music, a retrospective exhibit on the Verdi Cycle, an International Verdi Conference, and many more commemorative events. 

“I am certain the Verdi Cycle could not have happened in any other community than Sarasota,” says Maestro Victor DeRenzi. “We invite anyone who has been touched by Verdi’s music to be part of our Verdi Festival. Join Sarasota Opera in celebrating this historic achievement of being the first opera company in the world to have performed all of his works.”

“This is a milestone year for Sarasota Opera,” says Richard Russell, Executive Director. “The Verdi Cycle has been the defining initiative for Sarasota Opera for more than a quarter of a century. We are proud that the support of our audience and patrons has made this possible.”

The Verdi Exhibit: Verdi in Sarasota – A Retrospective
March 4 – 20, 2016 10am daily
Jonas Kamlet Library
Sarasota Opera House
FREE admission, no ticket required

An exhibit exploring 28 years of Verdi performances at Sarasota Opera including costumes, set designs, scenic models, and video.

The Young Verdi
March 17, 2016, 7:30pm
The William E. Schmidt Opera Theatre
Sarasota Opera House

He is known as the preeminent opera composer of the 19th century, and regarded by many as the reigning master of opera of all time. But before all the fame, the young composer was a talented man with his own dreams and aspirations. Meet the young Verdi in this concert of music composed before his first opera, Oberto.

Verdi Conference: The Score and Beyond: Performing, Staging, and Experiencing Verdi
March 18 – 19, 2016
Sarasota Opera House
Free admission, no ticket required

With the collaboration of the American Institute for Verdi Studies, Sarasota Opera will host a two day international conference on the music and life of Giuseppe Verdi March 18 – 19, 2016. The conference is being organized and led by Dr. Francesco Izzo, co-director of the American Institute for Verdi Studies and Head of Music at the University of Southampton. In addition to Dr. Izzo, 14 scholars and opera professionals from the United States and Europe will present papers and participate in panel discussions focused on the music and life of Giuseppe Verdi. See below for full conference details and a list of participants. 

The Verdi Cycle Grand Finale Celebration
March 20, 2016,
7:00pm Verdi Concert
William E. Schmidt Opera Theatre
Sarasota Opera House

Experience opera history being made as Sarasota Opera performs one of Verdi’s final works – the Te Deum, and a duet from Oberto, conte di San Bonifacio, last heard in the 1840’s. Relive some of the highlights of our 28-year journey through the works of Verdi with favorite arias, ensembles and choruses from his great operas. The Sarasota Opera Orchestra and Chorus will be joined by principal artists from the 2016 Winter Festival Season.

Sarasota Opera opened the 2016 Winter Opera Festival, the largest and one of the most important in the company’s 57-year history, on January 30th with the company premiere of Verdi’s Aida. The season also features Verdi’s rarely seen The Battle of Legnano, opening February 27th, which will mark the final operatic installment of the Verdi Cycle.  In addition, Sarasota Opera re-mounted its critically acclaimed production of Mozart’s comedy Cosi fan tutte and will premiere a new production of Beethoven’s only opera Fidelio.

Sarasota Opera launched a new website, , dedicated to the company’s 28-year Verdi Cycle. Features of the website include listings of all of Verdi’s operatic and non-operatic music performed by Sarasota Opera, including production information and photos; testimonial pages from, artists who performed in Verdi Cycle productions, as well as audience members who saw Verdi Cycle operas, scholarly resources for Verdi enthusiasts; and even a countdown clock tracking the time left to the completion of the Verdi Cycle.

Sarasota Opera was honored by the City of Sarasota on January 30th by renaming the block of Pineapple Avenue stretching from 1st street to Main Street “Verdi Place” in honor of the company’s completion of the Verdi Cycle. The ceremony began with a brass fanfare from the balcony of the opera house which was followed by the unveiling of the new street sign by Maestro DeRenzi and City of Sarasota officials.

For more information and to purchase tickets for the current season, visit or call the Sarasota Opera Box Office at (941) 328-1300.  


The Score and Beyond: Performing, Staging, and Experiencing Verdi
Sarasota Opera, March 18-19, 2016


Friday, March 18, 10:00-12:30
Opening and Greetings
Session 1: Verdi On Stage

Evan Baker - “Elephants, Trumpets, and the parola scenica: Thoughts on the Production History of Aida”
Helen M. Greenwald - “Verdi’s Attila Sunrise, Musical Pictures, and the Life of a 170-Year-Old Canard”
Stefano Castelvecchi - “Staging La traviata as a Bourgeois Drama”
Andreas Giger - “The Staging Manual of Verdi's Otello and Its Significance Today”

Friday, March 18, 2:30-4:30
Session 2: Verdi in the World

Roberta Montemorra Marvin - “Getting to Know Verdi in Victorian Britain”
Mark Everist - “Opening the Cairo Opera House”
Emily Richmond Pollock  - “Verdi’s American Home”

Saturday, March 19, 10:00-12:30
Session 3: Verdi’s Music, Verdi’s Theater

Linda B. Fairtile – “‘Se quel guerrier io fossi’: War and Warriors in Verdi’s Operas”
David Lawton - “Ornamenting Verdi Arias: Recitatives and Cabaletta Repeats”
Hilary Poriss - “Verdi and His Singers: Pauline Viardot”
Francesco Izzo - “The Verdi Critical Edition in Sarasota: The Case for Un giorno di regno”

Saturday, March 19, 2:30-4:30
Panel Discussion: Performing Verdi Today

Presenter and Moderator: Richard Russell
Participants: Martha Collins, Victor DeRenzi, Francesco Izzo, David Lawton, Marco Nisticò.


Participating Scholars in the Verdi Conference:

Evan Baker (Author of “From the Score to the Stage: An Illustrated History of Continental Opera Production and Staging” University of Chicago Press, 2013)

Stefano Castelvecchi (Faculty of Music, University of Cambridge, UK)

Mark Everist (Professor of Music at the University of Southampton)

Linda B. Fairtile (University of Richmond, co-director of the American Institute for Verdi Studies, editor of critical edition of Otello)

Andreas Giger (Louisiana State University, author of Verdi and the French Aesthetics and editor of critical editions of I due Foscari and Un ballo in maschera)

Helen M. Greenwald (New England Conservatory, editor of Oxford Handbook of Opera and of the critical edition of Verdi’s Attila)

David Lawton (Stony Brook University, Co-director of the Opera Workshop)

Roberta Montemorra Marvin (University of Iowa, editor of Cambridge Verdi Encyclopedia and critical edition of Verdi’s I masnadieri)

Emily Richmond Pollock (Assistant Professor of Music, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Hilary Poriss (Associate Professor, Music History, Northeastern Conservatory)

Panel Participants:

Victor DeRenzi (Artistic Director and Principal Conductor at Sarasota Opera)
Martha Collins (Stage Director)
David Lawton (Conductor; Professor; Opera studies, Music History and Theory at Stony Brook University)
Marco Nisticò  (Baritone; Metropolitan Opera, Teatro dell’Opera in Rome, Sarasota Opera, Opera Colorado, New York City Opera)

Based on Florida’s beautiful Gulf Coast, Sarasota Opera is in the midst of its 57th consecutive 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 and first performing in it in 1984 as the Sarasota Opera House. The theater has just undergone a $20 million renovation and rehabilitation enhancing audience amenities, while updating the technical facilities including increasing the size of the orchestra pit. The theater, which reopened in March 2008, has been called “one of America’s finest venues for opera” by Musical America.

Since 1983, the company has been under the artistic leadership of Victor DeRenzi. 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 Invitation to Opera performances for local schools and the unique Sarasota Youth Opera program.

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.

Sarasota Opera 61 N. Pineapple Avenue Sarasota, FL 34236 (941) 366-8450