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.

 

Call us at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing