The Sarasota Opera has much to celebrate these days, despite a harrowing 2020-21 season for the arts in general. Among the causes for rejoicing: The company’s longtime executive director, Richard Russell, recently signed a five-year contract extension and received the new title of general director to better reflect his position; artistic director and principal conductor Victor DeRenzi will mark his 40th season this coming year; and the Sarasota Opera was the only opera company in the United States to present a fully staged season in its theater this past year during the pandemic—along with its first ever livestreamed productions from the stage.
Now there’s more to note, as the company has announced its upcoming 2021-22 season. With one exception, it will feature the operas originally planned for 2020-21. Those productions were postponed due to Covid, but the opera nevertheless presented four operas, safely and successfully, with smaller casts, one-act works, limited-capacity audiences and a careful attention to Covid protocols.
Now opera lovers can look forward to the productions they were denied, as the 2022 Winter Opera Festival will include Puccini’s Tosca, Donizetti’s The Daughter of the Regiment, Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers and Verdi’s Attila. Only the company’s fall production, slated for performances Oct. 29 and 31 and Nov. 3, 9, 11 and 13, has changed, from the previously planned Don Giovanni. Rossini’s The Silken Ladder (La scala di seta), a one-act comedy about a secret husband and would-be lovers, will replace Don Giovanni, as the opera continues to make its way gradually into larger-scale productions. And the Sarasota Youth Opera will not mount a production in November as it usually does; the youth opera will return to in-person rehearsals this fall, but will give a concert jointly with the Sarasota Opera Apprentice Artists and the Sarasota Opera Orchestra on March 20, 2022.
In the press release announcing the coming season, both Russell and DeRenzi emphasized how generous the community has been with support through the past year, and how much they—and audiences—are looking forward to enjoying a “normal” live opera season.
The ever-popular tragic opera Tosca opens the season Feb. 12 and will receive eight performances in all, continuing Feb. 16, 20, 24, 27 and March 11 and 19. The Sarasota Opera last staged a production of this classic in 2015.
The colorful comedy The Daughter of the Regiment will receive seven performances next, Feb. 19, 23, 26 and March 1, 3, 6 and 18. This Donizetti piece was last performed here in 1987.
The Pearl Fishers, focusing on longtime friends in Ceylon with the same forbidden love for a priestess, will be onstage for six performances, March 5, 8, 10, 13, 16 and 19. It was last seen here in 2013.
And finally, Verdi’s Attila, last produced here in 2007, will be presented for five performances, March 12, 15, 17, 20 and 22.
In addition, there will be a variety of special events, concerts and talks, with some of those being announced later in August.
Subscriptions for the 2021-22 season will be available for renewal June 14 online at sarasotaopera.org or by calling (941) 328-1300 or emailing [email protected]. Single tickets will go on later, on Sept. 1.