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Victor DeRenzi Knighted by the Italian Government

June 14, 2016

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


Victor DeRenzi Knighted by the Italian Government

Sarasota, FL - The Italian government has bestowed the title of Cavaliere dell’ordine della Stella d’Italia (Knight of the order of the Star of Italy) on Maestro Victor DeRenzi, artistic director and principal conductor of Sarasota Opera. The distinction represents a particular honor extended to those who have helped spread Italian culture throughout the world. The honor was awarded in recognition of Maestro DeRenzi’s extraordinary vision and leadership in Sarasota Opera’s 28-year Verdi Cycle which came to a close on March 20, 2016.

Cavaliere Photos

“As a musician, and a citizen of Italy and the United States, it means a great deal to me to have been invested as a ‘Cavaliere dell’ordine della Stella d'Italia’ which acknowledges my devotion to Italian music and the completion of Sarasota Opera’s Verdi Cycle,” says Maestro DeRenzi. “I have loved Italy since I was a child, and its arts have been at the center of my life and have given me constant enjoyment. I want to thank my family and friends, as well as everyone who has worked with me over the years and shared my passion for Italy and Italian art. It is especially meaningful to me to receive this honor that recognizes the promotion of culture beyond Italy’s national boundaries.”

Maestro DeRenzi was awarded the distinction from the Italian Consul General in Miami, Dr. Gloria Marina Bellelli at the Italian National Day Celebration on June 1, 2016 which commemorated the 70th Anniversary of the establishment of the Italian Republic.

Begun in 1989, The Verdi Cycle was the company’s commitment to perform all the works of Giuseppe Verdi, both operatic and non-operatic, intended for performance. The Verdi Cycle was completed on March 20, 2016, the final day of the 2016 festival season, which earned Sarasota Opera the distinction of being the only opera company in the world to have performed all Verdi’s music and Maestro DeRenzi the only person to have conducted all his works.

The season, the grandest in the company’s 57-year history, culminated with a “Verdi Festival Week” March 15 – 20. Joined by distinguished guests from the around the world, The Festival included continued performances of the two Verdi operas performed as part of the season, Aida and The Battle of Legnano, two concerts dedicated to the music of Verdi, an international Verdi Conference, a 28-year retrospective exhibit on the Verdi Cycle, and many more commemorative events.

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 this season. The ceremony began with a trumpet fanfare from the balcony of the opera house which was followed by Maestro DeRenzi, Richard Russell, and City of Sarasota officials unveiling the new sign to company and community members in attendance

Based on Florida’s beautiful Gulf Coast, Sarasota Opera recently 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.

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