Verdi Cycle Nears Completion with 'Legnano'

Todays News

Photo by Rod Millington. Courtesy of Sarasota Opera.

The journey has taken 28 years, but as the Verdi Cycle approaches its close, one final opera remains. Verdi’s ever-popular Aida thrilled through February and runs until Mar. 19, but it’s the rarely performed epic The Battle of Legnano that brings the operatic side of the Cycle to its conclusion. A romance of love and friendship tested against the backdrop of a country at war, veteran Verdi stage director Martha Collins helms the production alongside Maestro Victor DeRenzi.

“It’s been a privilege to be part of this whole thing,” said Collins, who previously directed eight of Verdi’s early operas for Sarasota Opera, including Attila, I due Foscari and Giovanna d’Arco. “They’re all like opening a great present,” she said. Each opera offers challenge and reward, for artist and audience, but with all of Verdi’s work, too many of the early and smaller works get ignored. Fortunately that’s exactly what the Verdi Cycle is designed to combat. “It’s always a wonderful revelation for all of us to find the beauty.”

The Battle of Legnano therefore makes a fitting final entry to the project, in Collins’ opinion, because despite being generally underperformed, “it’s a combination of two of Verdi’s greatest traits – the rousing chorus that makes everyone want to stand up and this great humanism that he’s known for,” she said. Many of the operas were previously relatively unfamiliar to her, she says, before the cycle brought them together. She’s since learned to “have faith in Verdi,” she says. “It’s been a wonderful experience. I’ve learned so much; I’ve grown so much.”

Playing tonight and starring Jennifer Black, Martin Nusspaumer and Todd Thomas, The Battle of Legnano will have five more performances before closing Mar. 18.

Photo by Rod Millington. Courtesy of Sarasota Opera.

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