The 2013 Sarasota Opera Winter Festival will open with the Sarasota Opera premiere of Giacomo Puccini's vocally extravagant final opera Turandot on
Saturday, February 9, 2013, which features some of the composers most glorious music including the famous tenor aria "Nessun Dorma" (None shall sleep).
Set in Ancient China, Turandot is based on an ancient Persian fairy tale which tells the story of a beautiful princess for whom men travel the world over to win the heart of by solving three riddles. Answer correctly and win her eternal love. Answer incorrectly and lose your head.
Soprano Brenda Harris and tenor JoNathan Burton will both make their Sarasota Opera and role debuts as the icy Turandot and the determined prince Calaf. Possessing a voice that has been described as "drop dead gorgeous" and "soaring on high", Ms. Harris has established herself as one of America's finest sopranos tackling leading roles on some of the world's most prominent opera stages including the Metropolitan Opera, Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Washington National Opera, and the Canadian Opera Company among others. Mr. Burton is quickly establishing himself as a leading tenor to watch winning acclaim for his recent appearances at Central City Opera, Palm Beach Opera, and Opera Omaha. Opera News praised Mr. Burton as "an engaging all-around singer with a powerful, full-bodied sound."
Rounding out the cast will be soprano Maria Natale as the slave girl Liù, bass Young Bok Kim as Calaf's father, Timur, and baritone Matthew Hanscom as Ping. This brand new production will be directed by Stephanie Sundine and conducted by Maestro Victor DeRenzi who will be celebrating his 600th performance as Artistic Director of Sarasota Opera on February 12th.
The Pearl Fishers
Following Turandot will be the much in demand remount of Georges Bizet's The Pearl Fishers (Les Pêcheurs de perles), a proven favorite of Sarasota Opera audiences. Last seen in 2003, The Pearl Fishers begins with the famously infectious Act I duet for tenor and baritone "Au fond du temple saint", in which our two heroes, Nadir and Zurga, reaffirm their pact of eternal friendship. But when the object of their mutual desires, the priestess Léïla, suddenly returns their
friendship is threatened igniting a dangerous triangle of forbidden love.
Baritone Lee Poulis, who made his debut in 2011 as the sinister Don Giovanni and was last seen as the conniving Lord Enrico Ashton in Lucia di Lammermoor, will sing the role of Zurga. Tenor Heath Huberg, last seasons Remendado in Carmen and Cassio in Otello, will sing Nadir. Soprano Asako Tamura, who sang Cio-Cio San in the 2011 production of Madama Butterfly as "beautifully as her superb acting", returns to make her role debut as the priestess Léïla.
Robert Tweten will conduct and, making her Sarasota Opera debut, Keturah Stickann will serve as director and choreographer. Maestro Tweten currently serves as Head of Music Staff at Santa Fe Opera in addition to serving as guest conductor for productions at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Vancouver Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, and the Canadian Opera Company. Ms. Stickann's directing and choreographic credits include San Francisco Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Florida Grand Opera, and New York City Opera.
A King for a Day
Sarasota Opera will present Giuseppe Verdi's charming comedy A King for a Day (Un giorno di regno), the composers second opera and first comedy. This production will serve as the world premiere of the new critical edition which uses as its principal source Verdi's own manuscript. In this opera, the King of Poland hides from his enemies by asking an unknown knight, Belfiore, to impersonate him. Recognizing the unique advantages associated with impersonating a king, Belfiore ends up not only enabling his own happy ending by weaving a web of amorous intrigues, but the happy ending of others as well. A true Verdi rarity, A King for a Day will be the 29th installment in the company's continuing Verdi Cycle.
Of this production, Artistic Director Maestro Victor DeRenzi says, "It is part of our artistic vision to present all of Verdi's rarely performed works along with the more mainstream pieces. Our audience has come to recognize and appreciate the artistic value of these early works, and we are proud to be one of the only opera companies in the United States to present them." 2013 also marks the 200th anniversary of Verdi's birth.