Sarasota Opera opens 2020 Winter Opera Festival with fanfare and ceremony

Commemorative plaque unveiled and Friendship Pact announced on opening night

February 10, 2020
Contact: Lana Mullen, Communications Coordinator
(941) 328-1322
[email protected]

Sarasota, FL – On Saturday, February 8, Sarasota Opera opened the 2020 Winter Opera Festival with a festive brass fanfare played from the outside balcony of the Opera House, followed by the unveiling of a plaque commemorating the completion of the Verdi Cycle.

Upon conclusion of the cycle in 2016, Sarasota Opera became the only opera company in the world to present all of Verdi’s works. Executive Director Richard Russell and Artistic Director Victor DeRenzi officiated over the unveiling of the plaque, which was followed by the announcement of a “Friendship Pact” between the City of Sarasota and Busseto, Italy—Giuseppe Verdi’s hometown, by Toni Duval, president of the Sister Cities Association of Sarasota.

In addition, Giancarlo Contini, Mayor of Busseto, sent a congratulatory statement celebrating the Friendship Pact: “I am extremely pleased to sign this ‘Pact of Friendship’ between our cities - Busseto, a small community of 7000 people, and the most beautiful Sarasota, a vast and bright metropolis. I am struck by the beauty of your Opera House building: the windows and arches have a scent of the Italianate, like the splendid opera productions of your theatres! A city that produces as many works a year as four Italian theaters in similar major cities. Please accept my personal warmest greetings, from all in my Administration, and on the part of all citizens of Busseto.”

Following the ceremony, Giacomo Puccini’s timeless and beloved La bohème was performed to a sold-out audience. The Winter Opera Festival continues with performances of Gounod’s Romeo & Juliet (opening February 15), Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love (opening February 22), and Catalani’s La Wally, (opening March 7) with performances through March 22. For more information, visit, call (941) 328-1300, or visit the box office at 61 N. Pineapple Avenue, Sarasota, FL 34236.

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