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Sarasota Opera Announces New Appointments to Artistic and Administrative Staff

August 22, 2016

Samuel Lowry  
(941) 328-1322


Sarasota, FL – Maestro Victor DeRenzi and Executive Director Richard Russell are glad to announce new additions to the artistic and administrative staff at Sarasota Opera effective immediately. Steven Grair has been appointed Sarasota Opera’s new Director of Production and Stephen Fancher has joined Sarasota Opera’s Development staff as its newest Development Officer.

Steven Grair                               Stephen Fancher 
Steven Grair                                                      Stephen Fancher

“I am happy to welcome Steven Grair to Sarasota Opera”, says Maestro Victor DeRenzi.  “This is a challenging role. I feel Steve not only has the relevant capabilities, but also the skills required to lead a staff and communicate to a range of people in varied technical and artistic positions.”  

“I am very excited to be assuming the role of Director of Production at Sarasota Opera,” says Mr. Grair.  “I have spent more than 20 years working in the Arts around the United States and I am thrilled to be joining an organization that has an established reputation for consistent artistic excellence. I am thankful to Richard Russell and Maestro DeRenzi for offering me this opportunity.”

Steven Grair most recently served as the Director of Production for San Antonio Opera and Opera Saratoga in New York. Previously, he has served as the Production Manager or Technical Director for numerous professional opera and theatre companies including Texas State University, Opera Omaha, Nebraska Repertory Theatre, Alpine Theater Project, and Pensacola Opera. His recent projects include Madama Butterfly with Opera San Antonio, The Long Walk with Opera Saratoga and Cosi Fan Tutte with Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.  Steve received his Bachelor of Fine Art in Technical Production form University of Wisconsin - Whitewater and has been working professionally in theater for 20 years.

On joining the Development Department at Sarasota Opera, Mr. Fancher says, “I am very excited to join Sarasota Opera’s development staff.  I love living and working in this spectacular town and hope to bring my experience in business as well as in music to this position and look forward to this exciting chapter in my life.”

“I’m delighted that Stephen has joined us at Sarasota Opera,” says Mr. Russell. “I’ve known him since he arrived in Sarasota and have been very impressed at how he has engaged in the community. Couple that with his passion and knowledge of the arts, I know that he is going to be a great asset to the organization.”

Stephen Fancher has been in Sarasota since 2012, relocating from the New York area where he was active as a musician and teacher. Having been awarded Stamford Connecticut’s Teacher of the Year in 2012 he decided to transfer his skill set as teacher to the field of finance working as a financial advisor with the Mariash Lowther Group at Merrill Lynch.  Stephen is very excited to work in development for the Sarasota Opera bringing his love of Opera and the arts into his professional life.  

Originally from central Connecticut, Stephen earned his bachelors and master’s degrees in music, studying piano at the University of Connecticut, Trinity College of Music in London, England, and at the conservatory at SUNY Purchase in New York.  He has been very active in the arts community in Sarasota; sitting on the board of the Artist Series Concerts, the Sarasota Music Conservatory, as well as performing the role of assistant conductor for Key Chorale.  Stephen, his wife Michelle, and daughters, Piper and Sofie enjoy Sarasota’s beaches, arts, and vibrant cultural community.

Subscriptions and Single Tickets (online only) are now available for the 2016-2017 Festival Season. Information on the upcoming season is available at or by calling the Sarasota Opera Box Office at (941) 328-1300.

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