Sarasota Opera shakes things up this month with the introduction of a new series—the Artists Roundtables. Similar to the Opera’s Meet the Artists series, the roundtables offer theatergoers a behind-the-scenes look at the opera world and the many artists who unite to make each production possible, but with a little twist to turn the whole thing a bit on its head. Whereas Meet the Artist events center around a single production, bringing the director, conductor, performers and designers to the stage simultaneously to largely discuss the current show, Artists Roundtables each instead center around a particular discipline. The first Artists Roundtable, scheduled for Feb. 17, convenes the directors from all four of Sarasota Opera’s Winter Festival operas—Manon Lescaut, Carmen, Norma and Tiefland—in the Opera’s Jonas Kamlet Library. Future installments feature designers (set and costume), principal artists and conductors on Mar. 3, 10 and 17, respectively. Not only does the change open up the conversation to be more about the artists’ craft in general, as opposed to a lone opera, but it also avoids a common trap in such panel discussions, where the majority of the questions pertain to only a handful of participants. With each discipline getting its own dedicated time, none outshines the others. With each moderated by either Sarasota Opera Executive Director Richard Russell or Maestro Victor DeRenzi, the hope is for a largely hands-off event, fueled more by interaction within the panel and between the panel and the audience than the moderator. “My hope is that the audience might pose a question and you’ll get four different answers,” says Russell. “Audience engagement is an important part of the future of the art form, and giving the audience the opportunity to experience something like this only connects them closer to the art form and the company.”