Sarasota Opera Connects with the Community Online and On the Air

May 12, 2020
Contact: Lana Mullen, Communications Coordinator
(941) 328-1322
[email protected]

Sarasota, FL – Sarasota Opera fans know that nothing equals the thrill of a live performance. But since the company’s 2020 Winter Opera Festival ended early due to the COVID-19 health crisis, the art of opera has continued online, and on the air, with a variety of creative efforts.

In the days immediately following the sudden end of the season, the artists of Sarasota Opera gifted downtown pedestrians with 5pm performances of arias and ensembles sung to anyone passing by. As the “stay home” orders ensued and the singers made their way home, they have continued their 5pm performances across the country from their front yards, porches, and balconies. These continuing performances can be found on social media under the hashtag #SuddenlyOpera.

Sarasota Opera Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Victor DeRenzi, knighted by the Italian government following the completion of the 28 year Verdi Cycle, has helped create a series of remembrances of the great composer Giuseppe Verdi’s life. The series, found on social media as #TodaywithVerdi, has often been well-timed with the unfolding events of the current pandemic. On April 8, Maestro DeRenzi described Verdi’s brush with the great cholera pandemic of 1849, surmising that “it is possible that because of (his) quarantine, Verdi lived to write his greatest works. We think he would advise you to stay home.” The post was shared over 50 times to an online audience of over 7000. “Today with Verdi” continues weekly on social media.

Visitors to Sarasota Opera’s website, social media, and YouTube channel can relive some of the most thrilling moments of past seasons, with a wide variety of scenes from the company’s performances, including Puccini’s La bohème, Verdi’s Nabucco, Bizet’s Carmen, and many more. The video clips can be found at

“Send Me the Songs” is another creative initiative, featuring Sarasota Opera artists singing Verdi’s shortest work, comprised of only eight notes. The singers recorded themselves in their homes and gardens around the country. These performances can be found on social media at #SendMeTheSongs. “Opera Talk” is found on the opera’s Facebook page on Saturdays, when opera lovers are asked questions like “What was your most memorable operatic experience?” With over 2000 engagements and dozens of responses, readers are sharing reminiscences with opera lovers all over the world.

Listeners to WSLR 96.5 or can hear “At Home with Sarasota Opera” with Artistic Director Victor DeRenzi and Executive Director Richard Russell talking about opera and playing some operatic highlights. The show airs on alternate Wednesdays at 6:30pm.

Sarasota’s Opera’s latest social media initiative — “Art for Opera” — features artwork created by members of the Youth Opera to show how they feel about their Opera House. Friends of Sarasota Opera — of all ages — are invited to sketch, color, paint, or draw in any medium, and post on social media with the hashtag #ArtForOpera. Submissions will be added to the works currently displayed in the windows of the Opera House and in an online gallery.

For more information, visit,,, and

About Sarasota Opera

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. The following year 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 Artists 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 #End