The Sarasota Opera’s winter 2017 season may just be commencing this Saturday, Feb. 11, with Madama Butterfly, but artistic director Victor DeRenzi and executive director Richard Russell have wasted no time in announcing its 2018 season.
The two held a press conference on the opera house stage last Friday afternoon to reveal, in addition to the four-opera winter season, the fall opera that will bow in November, and the world premiere of a piece for the Sarasota Youth Opera. For Verdi fans who are missing the great composer’s work this current season, the opera introduces the “Beyond Verdi: Italian Masters Series,” a new series dedicated to presenting operas by composers directly influenced by Verdi.
First up is, in fact, Verdi’s ever popular La traviata, running Nov. 3, 5, 8, 14, 16, 19 and 21. Last seen here in 2009, La traviata tells the tragic story of courtesan Violetta, whose true love for Alfredo must be forfeited in order to save his honor.
Next on the opera stage will be the world premiere of Rootabaga Country, by Rachel J. Peters, the sixth commission of a new work by the Sarasota Youth Opera. The work is an adaptation of Carl Sandburg’s Rootabaga Stories, introducing three characters: Gimme the Ax and his two children, Please Gimme and Ax Me No Questions. It will be performed Nov. 11 and 12.
The winter season launches in February with a Sarasota Opera premiere of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, based on a 1731 novel relating the story of love at first sight between Chevalier Des Grieux and the lovely Manon, who’s enroute to enter a convent when they meet. The couple’s Parisian idyll comes to an end when Des Grieux’s money runs out—but their love burns strong. Onstage Feb. 10, 14, 18, 20, 24 and March 1, 4, 17 and 23.
Next up is Bizet’s torrid Carmen, which had a sold-out run at the opera house back in 2012. The tumultuous love of a gypsy and a corporal is a doomed one, but not before presenting such familiar music as Carmen’s “Habanera” and the “Toreador Song.” Onstage Feb. 17, 22, 25 and 27 and March 2, 7, 9, 13, 16, 22 and 24.
Another Sarasota Opera premiere, Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma, is next in the season, and it’s also the first Bellini production the opera here has ever performed. A tour-de-force for famous sopranos for decades since its premiere in 1831, Norma is set in Roman-occupied ancient Gaul, where the heroine, a Druid priestess, and a Roman official have fallen in love. Trouble enters in the form of a temple virgin named Adalgisa. Onstage March 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20 and 24.
And the final opera of the season is another Sarasota Opera premiere, this one of the work Tiefland by Eugen d’Albert. It’s described as a passionate example of early 20th-century verismo opera, but one rarely seen in this country, with only two productions here since 1908. The unwilling mistress of a wealthy landowner is married off to a shepherd who falls in love with her, not knowing her past. The secret does, of course, come to light. This will be onstage March 10, 15, 18, 21 and 25.
For more information on next year’s operas, and for tickets to this year’s, visit sarasotaopera.org or call (941) 328-1300.