Sarasota Opera welcomes back Nabucco
for the first time since 1995

With stirring music and dramatic special effects, this epic tale chronicles the exile of the Hebrews in
Babylon amidst a love triangle, revenge, and - ultimately - redemption

February 12, 2019

Lana Mullen, Communications Coordinator
(941) 328-1322
[email protected]


Sarasota, FL—Amidst a setting of ancient times, Nabucco—king of Babylon—conquers the Hebrews, destroys their holy temple of Solomon and takes them into captivity. Meanwhile, his daughters Fenena and Abigaille both yearn for the forbidden affection of the Israelite Ismael. Her love unrequited, Abigaille is obsessed with vengeance. In the ultimate act of hubris, Nabucco declares that he is God and is struck mad by a thunderbolt. Will he regain his reason, repent, and return the Jews to their homeland? Amidst compelling drama and dynamic music, Sarasota Opera presents the third in their Winter 2019 Festival. Victor DeRenzi—the only conductor in the world to have led all of Verdi’s operas, choral and orchestral works—leads a stellar cast of debut artists and returning favorites, when Nabucco opens on Saturday, March 2, 2019 at 7:30pm.

“From the noble and majestic overture to the final notes of the exultant finale, DeRenzi’s conducting and spirit meld the varying elements of this towering and dramatic score into an evening of inspiring instrumentality, coruscating vocal brilliance and uplifting and transcendent emotion,” stated a review from the 1995 production. Almost twenty-five years later, under the stage direction of Martha Collins (Carmen, Dialogues of the Carmelites), Nabucco promises to dazzle and inspire once again. The cast includes Rochelle Bard, making her Sarasota Opera debut as Abigaille, Lisa Chavez as Fenena, returning from her sensational turn as last winter’s Carmen, “outstanding tenor!” (Opera News) Ben Gulley as Ismaele, and Stephen Gaertner, a “strong, cultured baritone” (New York Times) as Nabucco.

Patrons can look forward to hearing one of the most famous choruses in all of opera—“Va pensiero”— in the third act. This “great aria, sung by the chorus” has been performed countless times in Sarasota, and is a beloved favorite. The words of the Hebrews in captivity are deep and touching: “Oh my country so beautiful and lost! Oh remembrance so dear and fateful!” It’s a choral lament of history and memory and community, and over the years it has become an iconic anthem.

Join in this triumphal return of Nabucco. Individual tickets start at only $19 and are available at and from the Sarasota Opera Box Office. Nabucco performances will take place on March 2, 5, 7, 13, 16, and 19 at 7:30pm, and March 10 and 24 at 1:30pm. There will be free pre-performance introductions to the opera 45 minutes before the start of each performance in Felding Hall. Before the opening night performance on March 2, there will be a fanfare from the outside balcony of the Opera House. Nabucco is sung in Italian with English translations above the stage.

For more information on Nabucco as well as the rest of the 2019 season—Puccini’s Turandot and Mozart’s The Magic Flute (now playing), and a comic double bill: Donizetti’s Rita and Wolf-Ferrari’s Susanna’s Secret, (opening March 9), visit, contact the Sarasota Opera Box Office at (941) 328-1300, or visit in person at 61 N. Pineapple Avenue, Sarasota, FL 34236.

About Sarasota Opera

Sarasota Opera is celebrating its 60th 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.


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