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The classic and historic Sarasota Opera House

by Roger Pettingell

Opera House: More than just live opera

Film festivals, classic movies, concerts and more in downtown Sarasota

Opera and more in downtown Sarasota
Opera House - A venue for a variety of performances located at 61 N. Pineapple Ave., downtown Sarasota

The live opera season begins November 1 with six performances of Rigoletto and continues through March 22 with 41 days of opera, a five-opera season for the organization. This downtown venue is home to the Sarasota Opera, now in its 59th season. Opera was first performed in the Historic Asolo Theater on the Ringling grounds, but it wasn’t until 1982 that a permanent home was established when the former A.B. Edwards Theater was purchased and opened as the Sarasota Opera House.

The Opera House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, continues as host to a variety of events and live performances. In 2008 the Opera House underwent a $20 million restoration project to bring it up to its original glory of ornate fixtures, luxury carpeting and interior that brings out the classic opera look but presents itself as a 21st century structure. Under the artistic direction of Victor DeRenzi and Executive Director, Richard Russell, the cultural arts of Sarasota will be preserved for many years.

It has been the home of many different performances and movies, each year with a schedule of classic movies, concerts and lectures. Upcoming events this month include the 1948 classic movie, Key Largo, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, on August 23. On August 25 at 1:30 PM, the opera film Die Walkure is on the big screen.

Throughout the year there are more shows including the last classic movie of the summer season, Young Frankenstein, September 6 followed by the Nutcracker ballet on film that Sunday. Two weeks later, La Traviata, an opera film will be shown. There are other events too, the sixth annual Taste of Downtown is becoming a tradition in Sarasota. The September 21 event ends the summer in Sarasota with entrees prepared by downtown restaurants and craft beers from local breweries.

The concert East Marries West on October 4 brings together Pandit Shubhendra Rao on sitar, Vidushi Saskia Rao-de Haas on the Indian cello, and accompaniment of Aditya Kalyanpur on the tabla, an Indian percussion instrument with a set of drums played like bongos. This world-class performance at 7 PM has tickets available now through their box office.

In October there is a series of discussions with opera themes to help understand opera at the Kamlet Library, including a discussion on how things change have changed, ensembles in opera and Walt Whitman with his passion for the opera. The series of four sessions concludes with a discussion long-time opera fans Richard and Greg.

Opera and more in downtown Sarasota
2008 restoration - A return to the classic opera house

The Jonas Kamlet Library is one of six event spaces that includes the main William E. Schmidt Opera Theatre with its capacity of 1,174. The Kamlet Library is popular for business meetings with seats for 150 guests and a large-screen TV for presentations. The library and Felding Hall & Donna Wolf Steigerwaldt Courtyard with a 125-person capacity are both available rental venues in a stunning setting.

Three other rooms in the Opera House are lesser known. The Worthington Board Room has 24 seats for a reception or 40 seats set up in banquet style. The Joy Culverhouse Room has a capacity of 95 set up as a theater of 50 when arranged as a classroom. It makes a classic board meeting or retreat room. The large 339-seat Lee and Bob Peterson Great Room has a wide variety of uses for business or personal use such as wedding receptions.

Tours of the Opera House are scheduled on select days in November, February and March. Concerts at noon by apprentice and studio artists are scheduled in the Peterson Great Room, November and March. Visit the Sarasota Opera House website or call (941) 328-1300 for dates and times and to reserve a rental of these facilities, the theater or to rent a set and costumes.

The Sarasota Opera House has played a pivotal role in the annual Sarasota Film Festival, which will be in its 22nd year when it opens March 27, 2020. In past years, the Opera House has been the venue for the opening night film when the red carpet is rolled out for actors, directors and other dignitaries. The Opera House is host to other events during the 10-day festival. This year the Sarasota Film Festival starts out with three screenings this month at SFF Cinematheque, 500 Tallevast Rd, #105. Two classics, The Godfather movie appears August 24 and 2001: A space odyssey will be shown August 31. A special screening of Surviving Lunch is the fictional story of a girl who is moved to Florida by her mother following the death of her father in a mass school shooting. She takes on school bullies in this movie showing on August 24. Each of these SFF screenings is preceded by a film historian discussion and followed with a Q&A session.

Mezzanine level
Mezzanine level view - Total theater seating is 1,174

The Opera House is the place where The Greatest Show on Earth, directed by Cecil B. DeMille and starring Charlton Heston made its Florida premiere when the movie house was named the Florida Theatre. It was mostly filmed in Sarasota during six months of local production in 1950 and made its award winning debut in 1952. The premiere was reenacted in 2017 to kick off its classic movie series. Members of the Circus Arts Conservatory were on hand to perform before the movie. You could feel the excitement from the local audience guests, particularly when the circus made its way through Sarasota and evoked memories from some of the classic businesses shown in the scene.

As for live opera, there is no disappointment there. The Opera House has become world renown for its rejuvenation of classic opera and the Verdi Cycle, his complete works performed. It begins this year with Rigoletto, one of the greatest musical works by Giuseppe Verdi. Love is Dangerous starts a run of Love operas, the second La boheme with Love is Fragile, 13 shows February 8 through March 21. Romeo and Juliet, Love is Forever, February 15 with nine performances ending March 20. The Elixir of Love, Love is Intoxicating, runs February 22 through March 21, with the finale Love Hurts a new production that begins February 7 and ends March 22. Each opera is sung in Italian or French with subtitles flashed along the top of the stage. The complete set of performance dates are on our upcoming schedule of events.

If your passion is the love of the arts, Sarasota is at the center. Named by American Style Magazine as the top arts destination in the country for populations under 100,000, Sarasota produces theatrical arts in opera, orchestra, ballet, concerts and top-quality plays. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 if you have a property to sell or buy.

 

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Sarasota Film Festival

by Roger Pettingell

19th annual event kicks off Friday

Filmmakers and cinema stars in town for 10 days

Sarasota Opera House
Many of the events for the 2017 Sarasota Film Festival will be held at the Sarasota Opera House.

An annual event in Sarasota that attracts film stars and helps reflect the cultural arts spirit is the Sarasota Film Festival, which starts this Friday with an opening celebration. Each year they feature stars that are invited to the festival so fans can get up close and personal. There is so much going on that it will be hard not to see the gatherings at events, especially if you are in the areas around the Sarasota Opera House or the Regal Cinemas Hollywood 20. It will have the appearance of Cannes or Sundance, but you don’t have to leave Florida to enjoy.

A tribute luncheon at the Sarasota Yacht Club on opening day will feature film icon Rory Kennedy. The youngest child to Senator Bobby Kennedy and Ethel Kennedy, one of her documentary productions, Last Days in Vietnam, was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 2015 Academy Awards.

The red carpet rolls out on Friday at 5:30 p.m. at the opera house before the opening night film, Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton. This is a 2017 documentary of his charismatic life during the winter surf season on Kauai Island of Hawaii. Rory Kennedy is the film director and is expected to be in attendance for the film showing. If you don't see her at the luncheon you may likely catch up with her at the opening night party following the film. Cocktail attire is the dress of choice for both. Grab a SFF signature cocktail as North Pineapple Avenue turns into a block party with the music of Jah Movement, one of Florida’s best reggae bands.

One of the film stars in SFF attendance will be actress Diane Lane, who had her screen debut in 1979. She will be attending the closing night film, Paris Can Wait, a 2016 comedy romance film with actors Alec Baldwin and Arnaud Viard. On April 8 she will have a 90-minute conversation with the audience at 2:30 p.m. in the Keating Theatre of the Florida Studio Theatre on Palm Avenue.

Aisha Tylor, possibly best known for her show, The Talk, will also be in conversation with the audience at Florida Studio Theatre, noon on April 8. The Talk has been Nominated for five Emmy Awards. She made her directorial debut with the film Axis, which will be shown during the film festival, April 7 and 8.

Another Oscar nominee, Stanley Tucci, will be in attendance and is on the advisory board of directors for the film festival. The film festival movie Paint it Black was produced by his production company, but you may remember him most for his role as Caesar Flickerman, the outrageous show host in the Hunger Games. He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in The Lovely Bones.

Rosanna Arquette has also announced she will be attending the film festival. She is an actress, film director and producer, nominated for an Emmy Award in 1982 for her role in The Executioner's Song. She has appeared in several movies starting with her debut in 1978 alongside Bette Davis in The Dark Secret of Harvest Home.

Kenny Anderson, a point guard from Georgia Tech who played for several NBA teams from 1991 to 2006, will be on a panel discussion on the topic, athletics and youth empowerment in the Florida Studio Theater on April 8. His movie Mr. Chibbs is part of the Sports in Cinema Features of full-length films and shorts that will be shown during the festival.

Look for signs downtown advertising the SFF with the theme this year, See and be Seen. The series of posters were created by local artist Ringling College of Art student Tyler Mathis, whose artwork was selected from nearly 20 other submissions. He used homophone words of the theme for his posters, interchanging appropriately Sea for See and Scene for Seen. So you should dress to be seen at the Sea and Scene Block party in J.D. Hamel Park, the night of April 7.

There is plenty to do during the week. Hollywood Nights with a red carpet for student film creators kicks off Sunday, April 2, with screenings in the Regal Cinemas Hollywood 20 theater. Veterans are featured Tuesday night at the Sarasota Opera House with the world premiere showing of Returning, which shows returning veterans of war and their reintegration into society. The Booker Film Academy shows off their student achievement, Redirection on Thursday at the Regal Cinemas Hollywood 20 theater. Into the Who Knows! is a sensory-friendly screening in Theatre 9 of the Regal Cinemas Hollywood 20 on Sunday, April 9.

There are also panel discussions, topical films, short films. The theme, Through Women’s Eyes, will feature 15 shorts and six full-length movies written, directed and produced by women on April 1 and 2. It kicks off with a reception at Sarasota City Center on Saturday at 5 p.m. The theme, Florida on Film, features 21 short films and four full-length films created by Florida filmmakers. Each day there are centerpiece and spotlight films in the theaters of the Regal Cinemas Hollywood 20.

Then it’s time to wrap up the 19th Annual Sarasota Film Festival with a…Wrap Party, Saturday at the Sarasota Sky Bar & Club. Hank & Cupcakes from Atlanta will be spinning pop songs that evening for your friends, filmmakers and industry guests. Enjoy the films.

Sarasota Music Festival month

by Roger Pettingell

Music Festival celebrates 51 years

Month of June devoted to chamber music in Sarasota

Sarasota Opera House
Many of the events for the 2016 Sarasota Music Festival will be held at the Sarasota Opera House.

We love our festivals here in Sarasota. And when it involves an orchestra we support it generously. So when the Sarasota Music Festival begins this week you can be certain there will be an enthusiastic fan base in attendance. For the next three weeks you can expect performances of artist showcases, Friday Festivals, Saturday Symphonies and student recitals. These are internationally renowned artists who visit Sarasota to learn, teach and perform some of the best chamber music on the planet.

The festival is a program of the Sarasota Orchestra, now in its 51st year, begins today with Master classes that are open to the public. For the remainder of the Festival, 60 students are selected from hundreds who audition during the year attend and work with 40 masters, including some of the best alumni members attending previous festivals as students.

Three Thursdays of Artist Showcases

Thursdays the performances begin with an Artist Showcase, the first is this Thursday honoring a Festival faculty member, Joseph Silverstein, who passed away in November of last year. A violinist, he went on to become the Boston Symphony Concertmaster, a position he held for 22 years. Festival faculty will perform chamber works from Bach, Schubert, Dvorak and Brahm. This sold out performance begins at 4:30 in Holley Hall with a reception one hour before the music begins.

Tickets are still available for the following Thursday Artist Showcase, Magnus Opus. The Julliard School faculty member Timothy Eddy starts the program with a Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major composed by Johann Sebastian Bach. He is followed by pianists Michael Adcock and Jonathan Spivey for a composition by Satie. Mozart’s Piano Quintet in E-Flat Major and Blanc’s Scherzo Tarentelle from Septet conclude the evening of music.

The third Artist Showcase celebrates the 90th birthday of Paul Wolfe, who founded the festival in 1965. The Artistic Director Laureate of the Festival is honored with an evening of six pieces beginning with Charles Neidich on clarinet and Nancy Goeres on bassoon performing Duo No. 1 in C Major from Beethoven. Some students will filter in for the evening that concludes with a Hommage a Paul Wolfe performed by violinist James Buswell and Robert Levin on piano. Levin has been the Festival artistic director for the past 10 years.

Friday Festivals with students and faculty together

Friday nights are reserved for three Friday Festivals, each that begins at 8 p.m. in the Opera House. This series features student and faculty performing together, the first of which is A Potpourri of Passions and includes two student ensembles. Other performances include Mozart’s String Quartet No. 5 in D Major, Les Citations by Duttilleux and the Piano Trio in G Minor by Smetana.

Seven pieces comprise the second Friday Festival on June 17, Contrast and Parallels. Throw in a Beatle tune Penny Lane and contrast that with Schuman’s difficult Piano Trio No. 2 in F Major, Levin plays the piano in both compositions to draw a parallel between the two. Performances by student ensembles, a Finale from Wind Quartet and Dvorak’s String Quintet in G Major round out the evening.

On the final Friday it is Back to the Future and includes two more Beatle selections, In My Life and She’s Leaving Home with Levin once again on piano with six other faculty members. Students filter in with Charles Wetherbee, violin for Beethoven’s String Quartet in F Major. The talents of Thomas Robertello on flute and James Buswell on violin will combine with one student on viola to perform Reger’s Serenade in G Major. Levin returns on piano for the finale, an energetic performance of Piano Quartet No. 2 in G Minor composed by Faure and includes violinist Buswell, Robert Vernon on viola and Brinton Smith on cello.

The best in chamber music, the Saturday Symphony

Concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic and former Festival student Noah Bendix-Balgley combines with Larry Rachleff, conductor, Alexander Kerr, concertmaster and Australian soprano Susan Lorette Dunn for the first Saturday Symphony, Tour de Force. The program begins with a Brahms’s composition, with variations on a Haydn theme. Dunn takes the stage for Canteloube’s Chants d’Auvergne and concludes with Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major. Saturday Symphonies begin at 8 p.m. in the Opera House.

Europe Meets America is the theme for the second Saturday Symphony with former Festival student and world renowned Moran Katz on clarinet as a featured artist for the evening. Katz performs Coplands’s Clarinet Concerto, which instills memories of a lost love. Hugh Wolff is the featured conductor and David Coucheron is the featured concertmaster June 18 that includes Haydn’s Symphony No. 86 in D Major and Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 in A Major.

The Festival concludes on Saturday, June 25, with a salute to Mozart and Levin. Featured artists are Levin, Nicholas McGegan, conductor and Charles Wetherbee, concertmaster performing Concerto in F Major by Vilvadi, Symphony No. 6 in C Major by Schubert and Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor by Mozart performed by Levin.

Lectures and Sunday student recitals

The first two Sundays are reserved for Student Recitals starting at 3 p.m. in Holley Hall. These recitals are chamber music works selected by the students. Festival lectures by Levin the first two Festival Saturdays begin at 1 p.m. in Holley Hall.

The fine culture and arts draw many people who want to vacation and live in Sarasota. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 if you have a property to sell or buy.

Dancing the Weekend Away

by Roger C. Pettingell

Dance lovers will find a reason to celebrate this weekend at the Sarasota Opera House. It's the Festival of the Stars - Carreño Dance Festival. The show Friday is at 7pm, and Saturday at 2:30pm. In addition to seeing some of the world's most talented dancers, young students will have a chance to learn from and dance with the performers. The video below will give you just a taste of what you'll experience:

You can get tickets online at the Sarasota Opera House website.

 

This blog is maintained by Michael of Kim Hughes & Company.

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