Sarasota Opera's 60th Anniversary Season Welcomes Returning Favorites

The opera is also launching a new concert series starting in October.

By Kay Kipling June 22, 2018

Filippo Fontana is Figaro in the Sarasota Opera's The Barber of Seville.

It’s a big anniversary season coming up for the Sarasota Opera—its 60th—and the company celebrates with the return of some favorite operas and opera singers under the leadership of artistic director Victor DeRenzi and executive director Richard Russell.

Offering operas by Rossini, Puccini, Mozart, Verdi and other composers, the Sarasota Opera will also launch a new concert series in the fall that features artists in four themed evenings with piano at the Sarasota Opera House. And, of course, the Sarasota Youth Opera presents a production as well.

The fall season begins with Rossini’s The Barber of Seville (Oct. 26, 28, 31 and Nov. 6, 8 and 11), starring returning baritone Filippo Fontana as the barber Figaro and mezzo-soprano Lisa Chavez in the role of Rosina. DeRenzi conducts and Stephanie Sundine directs.

The Youth Opera production, Benjamin Britten’s returning The Little Sweep, takes to the stage Nov. 3 and 4. It will be preceded by a prologue created especially for the youth ensemble by music director Jesse Martins and stage director Martha Collins.

The traditional winter season begins in earnest with Puccini’s final opera, Turandot, featuring returning soprano Kara Shay Thomson as the Princess Turandot and tenor Jonathan Burton as Prince Calaf. (This is the one with the famous aria “Nessun dorma!”). Turandot made its Sarasota Opera premiere in 2013; it will be performed this season Feb. 9, 12, 14, 17, 20, 23 and 28 and March 3, 8, 15, 17 and 22.

Soprano Kara Shay Thomson sings the title role in Turandot.

Mozart’s The Magic Flute, bringing us such characters as Prince Tamino, the Queen of the Night and the bird catcher Papageno, has not been seen here since 2010; tenor Andrew Surrena will sing Tamino this time around. The role of Pamina will be sung by soprano Hanna Brammer at all performances except March 1, when Sarasota native Adelaide Boedecker, a former youth opera member, will perform in the role. Dates include Feb. 16, 19, 21, 24, 27 and March 16, 21 and 23 as well as that March 1 performance.

Soprano Hanna Brammer sings Pamina in The Magic Flute.

Verdi’s Nabucco, relating the tale of the blasphemous king of Babylon, was last seen in Sarasota as part of the acclaimed Verdi Cycle, back in 1995. This year’s production welcomes the Sarasota Opera debuts of baritone Stephen Gaertner in the title role and soprano Rochelle Bard as his daughter Abigaille. Performances are March 2, 5, 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 21 and 24.

Finally, a double bill of two one-act comedies closes out the season, March 9, 12, 14, 17, 20 and 23. These Sarasota Opera premieres are Rita (Two Men and a Woman) by Donizetti and Susanna’s Secret, by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari. A trio of artists serves as the cast for both works: soprano Elizabeth Tredent, baritone Marco Nistico and tenor William Davenport, making his Sarasota Opera debut.

The new concert series begins Oct. 12 with “An Evening of Latin Music” and continues with “An Evening of Operetta,” Dec. 14; “Operatic Favorites” in celebration of the 60th anniversary, April 5; and “Opera Composers in Song,” May 10. For tickets to all performances, call 328-1300 or visit


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