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SRQ DAILY Oct 21, 2016

Friday Weekend Edition

Friday Weekend Edition

"We can't keep doing 'La traviata,' as much as we all love it, and expect people to identify."

- Mark Campbell, Librettist

[Opera]  "Opera Talks" Opens with Pulitzer-winning Librettist
Philip Lederer, Phil.Lederer@srqme.com

Thanks to a collaboration between Sarasota Opera and Hermitage Artist Retreat, the second season of Opera Talks begins next Wednesday with a presentation from Pulitzer Prize-winning librettist Mark Campbell, entitled Adventures in Opera. Held within the Sarasota Opera House, attendees will get a chance to hear Campbell speak on the resurgence of contemporary American opera, engage in a question and answer session and preview scenes from some of his five upcoming operas premiering in 2017. “I’m already exhausted,” jokes Campbell. “I’ll probably have to retire to the Hermitage next year if they let me.”

A serial fellow at the Hermitage, this trip will mark Campbell’s fourth visit to the grounds, where he plans to write the libretto for an opera adaptation of Pierre Corneille’s The Comic Illusion. “It allows me focused and concentrated time for my projects,” the writer explains from his home in New York City. “It can be very difficult to put one word behind another in this town.” But as excited as he is to get to work on this latest project, it’s the opportunity to speak to the audience at large that he enthuses about.

It’s a chance to break down barriers for an art form still plagued by perceptions of inaccessibility and distance, to expand the potential audience and let them know that opera can still be new, relevant, American and exciting. “Not all composers and librettists are dead, and they’re American too,” Campbell says with wry humor. “We are among you and we want to be telling your stories.”

And right now American opera is dominating, says Campbell, making it an exciting time for both audiences and artists. Last May, a Minnesota production of Campbell’s adaptation of The Shining broke box office records, and an upcoming Seattle premiere of his opera about a transgender individual he hopes will engage a previously unrepresented demographic who can finally see a story they identify with onstage. “I’m really glad to see the opera audience is not made of just people like me—old white men,” he says. “It’s radically changing. We can’t keep doing La traviata, as much as we all love it, and expect people to identify.”

A necessary change, perhaps, for a storied art form Campbell hopes will continue for another 400 years. “I love the power of words with music behind it because it can appeal to both the brain and the heart at the same time,” says Campbell. “We don’t want this art form to die.”

See Adventures in Opera Wednesday, October 26, at the Sarasota Opera House at 10:30am. No ticket or reservation required. 

Pictured: Mark Campbell. Photo courtesy of Sarasota Opera.

[Good Bite]  Jet Pilot Takeover

In case you missed the Totally Tiki Takeover last weekend, don’t fret—State Street is still carrying the drink that made rum lovers’ jaws drop in awe. Bar manager Topher Nalefski crafts a Jet Pilot cocktail served in glassware from his own collection of tiki mugs. Nalefski starts off by blending Hamilton 86, Jamaican Smith & Cross, absinthe and an ounce of lime juice. Velvet falernum is added to give a sweet kick to this tropical cocktail and a few dashes of angostura bitters are included before he shakes and strains the drink into the glass. Served over crushed ice, this rum cocktail is garnished with a funnel-shaped lime soaked in 151 that's literally ignited, bursting into flames with the help of sprinkles of cinnamon. With brisk sweetness, an herbal undertow and slight zing of spice, the Jet Pilot will surely sneak up on you.  

State Street, 1533 State St., Sarasota, 941-951-1533.

[Recipe]  Pumpkin Chili

The Breakfast House adds a twist to chili by adding pumpkin to the mix, making it extra hearty and nutritious. Ground chicken or turkey, onions, tomatoes, garlic and peppers get blended, with kidney beans creating a thick texture. Ideal for a cold fall day, this pumpkin chili dish makes for an enjoyable weeknight meal.

Ingredients: 2 lbs. ground chicken or turkey; 2 medium onions (chopped); 2 green peppers (chopped); 3 cups fresh tomatoes (diced); 2 cloves fresh garlic (diced); 2 large cans of kidney beans; 2 cans of pumpkin; 1 Tbsp. veggie base; ½ gallon V-8 juice.

Saute meat in sauce pan and drain saving the liquid. Saute veggies in butter, the meat drippings and veggie base until soft. Pour V-8 juice in a large soup kettle and warm. Add all ingredients to V-8 juice and add chili powder, pumpkin pie spice, sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer for 30 minutes. Optional to serve with sour cream and chopped red onion.  

The Breakfast House, 1817 Fruitville Rd., Sarasota, 941-366-6860.

[Recognition]  Matheu Wins Children's Book Award

Sarasota author Sheba Matheu recently won a silver Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, in the self-esteem category for her book 10 Secrets of Being a Lady. The Moonbeam awards are dedicated to supporting childhood literacy and life-long reading. This is the 10th annual Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards with entries from authors, illustrators and publishers form all over North America.  

Moonbeam Awards

[Recognition]  Microsoft Features DutchCrafters

Microsoft has featured the largest Internet retailer of Amish furniture, DutchCrafters, for its use of smart product recommendations. The Microsoft case study states that the company has succeeded in joining old and new. One of the newest technologies is the Recommendations API from Microsoft Cognitive Services which the retailer company has used to offer customers product recommendations that meet the customers’ preferences out of the thousands of products available on its website.  


[Exec Moves]  EdExploreSRQ Launches New Website

EdExploreSRQ has announced the launch of its newly updated website. EdExploreSRQ is Sarasota County Schools’ web-based platform that links teachers and schools with active learning experiences provided by local arts, science and culture organizations as well as teaching artists. Designed by Sarasota-based KSC, Inc., in collaboration with Brand Underground Marketing & Communications, the new site was made possible by funding from the Patterson Foundation.  


SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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