Verdi Conference Promises Scholarly Complement

Arts & Culture

With only a handful of performances left in Sarasota Opera’s history-making endeavor, The Verdi Cycle, some would say the time has arrived for a bit of reflection. Sarasota Opera offers just that—and a bit more—with this Saturday’s “Performing, Staging, and Experiencing Verdi,” an international conference bringing performers and scholars from around the world to discuss Verdi and Sarasota Opera’s great accomplishment. Organized by Dr. Francesco Izzo, co-director of the American Institute for Verdi Studies, 11 papers will be presented in three themed sessions, concluding with a panel discussion moderated by Sarasota Opera Executive Director Richard Russell. “It’s an enormous achievement,” said Izzo, “and we should reflect upon the significance.”

Entitled “Verdi on the Stage,” the first session will focus on the production side of Verdi’s operas. “Not only what they sound like, but what they look like,” said Izzo. Topics include the production history of Aida, as well as looking at the design and production of operas such as La traviata and Otello.

The second session examines Verdi’s international impact and presence around the globe, with special emphasis on Sarasota – “providing context” to the Cycle, said Izzo. One presentation explores Verdi’s presence in Britain, while another looks at the opening of the Cairo Opera House, where Aida enjoyed its world premiere in 1871. A researcher from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will present a paper specifically regarding the work done by Sarasota Opera, entitled “Verdi’s American Home.”

The final session before the panel discussion looks at the relationship between music and drama in Verdi’s work, with papers discussing warrior figures through his operas, ornamentation and Verdi’s own relationship with his singers. Izzo will present a paper on Sarasota Opera’s use of the Verdi Critical Edition.

Each presentation is estimated to last around 20 minutes, with 10 minutes of Q&A after.

The conference will conclude with a panel discussion moderated by Russell, who will be joined on stage by Sarasota Opera veterans, including Maestro Victor DeRenzi, Stage Director Martha Collins, Izzo and more. The scholars come from around the world, but Sarasota and the audience here are now tailor-made for it, according to Izzo. “These are people who actually know the operas because they’ve seen them, including the lesser-known ones,” said Izzo of the Sarasota Opera audience. “My hope and expectation is that each of the presentations sheds a further light on what Sarasota Opera has done.”

Free and open to the public, the conference begins at 10am Saturday at the Sarasota Opera House.

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