Over the past two years, Sarasota Opera has had to make some changes with how it conducts rehearsals and performances by putting on smaller, one-act operas, hosting outdoor events, and using technology to reach its audiences.
Conductor and Sarasota Youth Opera director Jesse Martins touched upon his experiences while participating in rehearsals during this time. "Sarasota Opera was able to put lots and lots of protocols in place," he says. "We do a lot of testing, we wear a lot of masks and we found a way of doing it."
Due to these safety precautions, the Sarasota Opera will be featuring its originally planned 2020-21 season operas—including Puccini's Tosca, Donizetti's The Daughter of the Regiment, Bizet's The Pear Fishers and Verdi's Attila—this winter.
On Feb. 12, Tosca will kick off the season. Set in Rome, this dramatic Italian opera will be led by conductor and artistic director Victor DeRenzi. The story follows a famous opera singer named Tosca and asks how far jealousy can take someone. This opera, last performed in 2015, will have eight shows in total: Feb. 12, 16, 20, 22, 24 and 27, and March 11 and 19.
Beginning on Feb. 19, The Daughter of the Regiment will have its first performance. The French comedic opera will be led by Martins. It features a girl named Marie, who is raised in a French regiment and meets a peasant named Tonio. They are brought on a journey of love, laughs and betrayal. This opera, last shown in 1987, will have seven performances: Feb. 19, 23, 26 and March 1, 3, 6 and 18.
On March 5, The Pearl Fishers takes the stage with conductor Marcello Cormino running the show. This French opera follows the story of two friends, Nadir and Zurga, who experience conflict because of loving the same priestess, Leila. There will be six performances: March 5, 8, 10, 13, 16 and 19.
Wrapping up the winter season is Attila. This longer opera tells the story of the Hun Attila, who wants to conquer all of Western Europe but is stopped in his tracks when he finds himself in love with a warrior named Odabella. Performances are on five dates: March 12, 15, 17, 20 and 22.
"This year is all about a return to normal and audiences getting back to seeing performances," Sarasota Opera executive director Richard Russell says. He adds that the company is looking forward to "being able to see people be in the opera theater and hearing some of the greatest music ever written."