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Sarasota Opera Receives $20,000 Art Works Award from National Endowment of the Arts

May 12, 2016

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

Grant to support upcoming winter production of The Dialogues of the Carmelites

Sarasota, FL – National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu has approved an Art Works award of $20,000 to support the winter 2017 production of The Dialogues of the Carmelites by Francis Poulenc. More than $82 million has been designated to fund local arts projects and partnerships around the country in the NEA’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2016. This production will be a part of the newly launched “Sarasota Firsts” initiative in which the company will produce operas never before seen on the Sarasota Opera House stage.

“The arts are all around us, enhancing our lives in ways both subtle and obvious, expected and unexpected,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Supporting projects like the one from Sarasota Opera offers more opportunities to engage in the arts every day.”

“We are extremely grateful to the NEA for their continued support of the Sarasota Opera,” says Executive Director Richard Russell.  “This support will enable Sarasota Opera to bring one of the great masterworks of the twentieth century to our audience for the first time.” 

Based on real events and set during the French Revolution’s infamous “Reign of Terror,” Poulenc’s opera tells the story of Blanche de la Force as she goes against the wishes of her aristocratic family and dedicates her life to God’s service by joining a Carmelite order. The revolution threatens to destroy all that is most sacred to the nuns putting Blanche’s faith to the ultimate test; to choose between life or to follow her sacred calling through to the end. 

The 2017 Winter Opera Festival will be the first season following the culmination of Sarasota Opera’s 28-year Verdi Cycle which made Sarasota Opera the only company in the world to have performed every work of Giuseppe Verdi.

Based on Florida’s beautiful Gulf Coast, Sarasota Opera has just completed its 57th consecutive season and the final season of the company’s internationally acclaimed Verdi Cycle making it the only company in the world to have performed every work of Giuseppe Verdi. 

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 and administrative leadership of Executive Director Richard Russell since 2012. 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.


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