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Sarasota Opera Joins Opera Companies Nationwide in Consortium to Create New Works

June 23, 2017

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


Sarasota, FL – Sarasota Opera has joined forces with six opera companies nationwide to create a new commissioning initiative entitled Opera for All Voices: Stories of our Time. This new venture is committed to telling wide-ranging stories that resonate with audiences regardless of age or prior experience with opera. Selected works will be co-commissioned and co-produced with other participating companies including Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Minnesota Opera, San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, and Seattle Opera.

Opera for All Voices recognizes the need in opera for the creation of works with outstanding artistic quality and relevant subject matters but are also flexible in scope and scale allowing for more manageable budgets. The project hopes to address the serious need of bringing new audiences to opera through commissioning new works that are sensitive to the changing viewing habits amongst audiences today while also addressing pre-conceived notions about the art form.

“As Sarasota Opera continues our mission to expand the body of repertoire for young voices, we are proud to join with opera companies across the country to inspire the next generation of opera enthusiasts, performers, and patrons through the creation of new works that speak to audiences young and old,” says Ben Jewell-Plocher, Director of Education at Sarasota Opera

Sarasota Opera, through its youth opera program, has established itself as a leader in the commissioning of works for young voices. To date, the Sarasota Youth Opera program has commissioned and presented five world premieres with its 6th world premiere, Rootabaga Country by Rachel J. Peters, scheduled for November 11 and 12, 2017. These works have since gone on to be performed by youth opera and university programs nationwide.

Past commissions include:
2012 – Little Nemo in Slumberland  (music by Daron Hagen, libretto by J.D. McClatchy)
2004 – The Language of Birds (music by John Kennedy, libretto by Peter Krask)
1998 – Eye of Ra (music by Tom Suta, libretto by Diana Colson)
1993 – Her Lightness (music and libretto by Polly Pen)
1989 – Deadline

Opera for All Voices is now accepting submissions by composers to be considered for acceptance. Projects selected will receive a workshop, the opportunity to premiere their opera at one of the partner companies listed above, as well as, the opportunity for subsequent performances at other partner companies. Additionally, each composer and librettist team selected for the invitational will have the opportunity to be mentored by established composer and librettist teams. The fees associated with this project are commensurate with commissioning fees from other opera companies. Established, emerging and non-classical composers and librettists are encouraged to submit a proposal.  For more information or to submit a proposal, visit 

Since 1984, Sarasota Youth Opera (SYO) has given young people age 8 to 18 an opportunity to experience the magic of opera through participation in after-school choruses, Sarasota Opera mainstage productions, summer workshops, and the Youth Opera's own full-scale productions. Regarded as a leader in the commissioning and producing of works for young voices, SYO is the only program in the United States committed to presenting annual, full-scale opera productions for young voices with professional musicians, direction, and costume and scenic design.

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