Sarasota Opera 2014 Annual Meeting: Future is Extremely Bright by Building on the Success of Last Season

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Sarasota Opera 2014 Annual Meeting: Future is Extremely Bright by Building on the Success of Last Season
By: Sherry Janes
Appropriately held in the grand Opera House itself, board members and patrons gathered for the Annual Meeting of the Sarasota Opera.  The meeting provided opportunity for a re-cap of the 2013-2014 season both from an artistic as well as a business perspective.  New initiatives in Opera programming and plans for future seasons were discussed.
Maestro Victor DeRenzi, artistic director of the company since 1983, shared a video with highlights from the operas performed this past season.  An exciting agenda was presented for the upcoming season, which includes featuring Pagliacci.  Sensitive to studies which show that new lovers of opera cite that it is too long an evening, Pagliacci has been selected as it is only a two hour long performance.
Enticing new and younger lovers of opera is one of the initiatives of the Sarasota Opera.  HD at the Opera House will include Driving Miss Daisy and La Traviata as a part of their summer initiative.
The State of the Sarasota Opera shows that 53% of ticket buyers are from the Sarasota/Bradenton area, 15% are from elsewhere in Florida, 29% are from the US outside of Florida, with 3% being foreigners.  That is quite a statement as to the Sarasota Opera’s wide appeal.
A very positive Finance Report with the Finance Highlights indicated that the season exceeded many of the income budgets, retired some debt, while securing funding to eliminate other debt.  The Endowment Fund was substantially increased, however, more growth in that area is necessary.
In looking to the future, the Sarasota Opera most desires to maintain quality.  It is one of the few opera companies that still does operas as the composer envisioned them.  Reaching more people, as well as youth, is constantly strived for.  Investing in the physical plant by strengthening the infrastructure is on the agenda for the future, also.
Audience Development is focusing on how to attract the 21 – 40 year old audience and has formed the Sarasota Development Collective, partnering with other area art associations.  The Sarasota Opera Youth Education Program invests more than almost any other existing opera company on youth.  Director of Youth Education, Benjamin Plocher, stated that while perhaps not profitable today, it is done so that “Opera will continue through seeds planted today.  Some times you just do something because it is the right thing to do.”

May 20, 2014

Contact: Samuel Lowry, Communications Officer

(941) 328-1322

[email protected]

Sarasota Opera Announces Good News at 2014 Annual Meeting

Sarasota, FL – Maestro Victor DeRenzi and Executive Director Richard Russell met with Sarasota Opera patrons and supporters Monday, May 19th, for Sarasota Opera’s 2014 Annual Meeting with an update on the state of Sarasota Opera. Along with members of the administrative staff, Maestro DeRenzi and Mr. Russell recapped highlights from the 2013-2014 season as well as shared news on what Sarasota Opera supporters can expect in upcoming seasons.


Highlights from the meeting included:


Ticket sales for the 2013/14 season were 97% of this year’s goal.


Sarasota Opera will finish the 2013/14 fiscal year with a surplus of nearly $200,000.  This will mark the second consecutive year of the company finishing with an excess of income over expense.


Thanks to a matching grant of $257,000 from The Patterson Foundation, Sarasota Opera successfully raised $514,000, the funds necessary to satisfy the debt due as a result of the Nadel clawback.


Under the direction of Sarasota Opera’s Director of Development Stacy Ridenour, Sarasota Opera exceeded its projected Development income by $680,000.


In addition, former board chair Donald Worthington announced that the Sarasota Opera Board of Trustees have approved new contracts for both Maestro DeRenzi and Mr. Russell.  Effective June 1st, 2014, Maestro DeRenzi will begin a new 10 year contract continuing his role as artistic director and principal conductor and Richard Russell will begin a new 7 year contract continuing his role as executive director.


“I am pleased that we have negotiated new contracts with our Executive Director and our Artistic Director which will provide our patrons with the assurance of long term stability,” says Mr. Worthington. “With these contracts we have removed time-consuming contract negotiations from a period during which we expect to be very busy carrying out big plans, and they assure potential supporters and contributors that our management team is in place for the long haul. These longer term contracts signify our confidence in the leadership of Richard Russell and Maestro Victor DeRenzi.”


The meeting closed with Mr. Worthington passing the gavel to the newly elected chairman of the board, Mr. David Chaifetz.




Based in Florida’s beautiful Gulf Coast, Sarasota Opera just completed its 55th consecutive season of bringing grand opera to the southwest Florida coast.  In 1960, the company began presenting chamber-sized repertoire in the historic 320-seat Asolo Theater on the grounds of Sarasota’s Ringling Museum of Art. Recognizing the need for a theater more conducive to opera, the company purchased the former A.B. Edwards Theater in downtown Sarasota in 1979 and first performing in it in 1984 as the Sarasota Opera House. In 2008, the theater underwent a $20-million renovation and rehabilitation enhancing audience amenities, while updating the technical facilities including increasing the size of the orchestra pit. The Sarasota Opera House has been called “one of America’s finest venues for opera” by Musical America.


Since 1983 the company has been under the artistic leadership of Victor DeRenzi. Since then the company has garnered international attention with its Masterwork Revivals Series, which presents neglected works of artistic merit, as well as the Verdi Cycle producing the complete works of Giuseppe Verdi. Recognizing the importance of training, Maestro DeRenzi founded the Apprentice Artist and Studio Artist programs. Sarasota Opera also maintains a commitment to education through its Invitation to Opera performances for local schools and the unique Sarasota Youth Opera program.


The 2014 Fall Season will feature Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci followed by the return of the Sarasota Youth Opera production of Dean Burry’s The Hobbit.  The 2015 Winter Festival includes Puccini’s Tosca, Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Golden Cockerel, and Verdi’s Don Carlos.  Subscriptions are now on sale at the Sarasota Opera Box Office.  Single Tickets for the 2014-2015 season will go on sale August 1st online and September 2nd in the box office. For more information, please call (941) 328-1300, go online at, or visit the Sarasota Opera Box Office at 61 N. Pineapple Avenue, Sarasota, FL 34236.


Sarasota Opera is sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Programs are supported in part by an award the Tourist Development Tax through the Board of County Commissioners, the Tourist Development Council and the Sarasota County Arts Council. Additional funding is provided by the City of Sarasota and the County of Sarasota.


Sarasota Opera

61 N. Pineapple Avenue

Sarasota, FL 34236

(941) 366-8450

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