Sarasota Opera Acquires Costume Stock from Malabar Ltd.

July 23, 2019

Lana Mullen, Communications Coordinator
(941) 328-132  

Sarasota, FL and Toronto, ON – Sarasota Opera Association, Inc. and Malabar Ltd. in Toronto announce the acquisition by Sarasota Opera of Malabar’s historic collection of opera costumes. Since the late 1950s, Malabar has been a leading independent provider of costumes to opera companies in North America. The collection consists of over 130 separate opera productions including tens of thousands of individual costumes.

“We are extremely proud and honored that Malabar’s owner Luigi Speca has entrusted his extraordinary legacy of costumes to Sarasota Opera,” according to Sarasota Opera’s Executive Director Richard Russell. “The acquisition of this collection will ensure the high quality of Sarasota Opera’s costumes for years to come, under the guidance of our Resident Costume Designer Howard Tsvi Kaplan. We are also thrilled to be able to continue to provide these costumes to our colleagues throughout North America.”

Malabar’s owner Luigi Speca added, “I know that my collection will be in good hands with Sarasota Opera and in particular with our long-time colleague Howard Tsvi Kaplan. I’m happy that these costumes will continue to be available to be used by opera companies in Canada and the U.S.”

This transaction will not impact the other parts of Malabar, Ltd.’s business lines. Malabar will continue to operate retail stores in Toronto and Ottawa and a costume rental business except for the Opera Department.

The transaction closed on July 22, 2019. The costume collection is in the process of being moved to Sarasota, FL from where Sarasota Opera will continue servicing Malabar’s former and new opera rental customers.

Opera companies who are interested in inquiring about costume rentals should contact Steve Grair, Sarasota Opera’s Director of Production at (941) 366-8450, ext. 525 or


Sarasota Opera is entering its 61st Season of bringing world-class opera to Florida’s Gulf Coast. The company was launched in 1960, when a touring chamber opera company came to the historic 320-seat Asolo Theater on the grounds of Sarasota’s Ringling Museum of Art and the Asolo Opera Guild was formed to present the season. By 1974 the Asolo Opera was mounting its own productions at the theater. Recognizing the need for a theater more conducive to full-scale opera, the company purchased the former A.B. Edwards Theater which in 1984 (as the Sarasota Opera House) became home to the newly renamed Sarasota Opera. The building underwent a $20 million renovation and rehabilitation in 2007 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. Sarasota Opera has garnered international attention with its Masterwork Revivals Series, which presents neglected works of artistic merit, as well as the Verdi Cycle, completed in 2016, that made Sarasota Opera the only opera company in the world to present all of Verdi’s works. Recognizing the importance of training, Maestro DeRenzi founded the Apprentice and Studio Artist’s programs. Sarasota Opera also maintains a commitment to education through its “Explorations in Opera” performances for local schools and the industry-leading 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 from 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