Victor DeRenzi, Arts and Culture Newsmaker of the Year



Great accomplishments require great resolve.

When Sarasota Opera began the Verdi Cycle 28 years ago with a production of Verdi’s Rigoletto, few could have guessed it would spiral into near three decades exploring the Italian composer and dramatist’s musical catalogue from top to bottom, unearthing rare and underperformed works along the way and attracting the attention from top scholars around the world. And when four years later the company formally announced its intention to perform every note Verdi ever wrote, doubtless more than a few wondered if it would be possible. But for 28 years, through the Great Recession and more, Sarasota Opera held the course and at the close of the 2015–16 season completed the Verdi Cycle in grand style with productions of Aida and The Battle of Legnano alongside a pair of Verdi-themed concerts and an international conference.

Through the Verdi Cycle, the company performed not only the standard versions of Verdi’s 27 operas, but treated the audience to alternative versions rarely heard. All of Verdi’s non-operatic work made the stage as well and Sarasota Opera made history as the only opera company in the world to perform Verdi’s available catalogue in such completeness.

Holding the baton through every performance was Sarasota Opera Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Maestro Victor DeRenzi, earning his own place in history as the first—and currently only—person to conduct every note that Verdi wrote. Drawing international acclaim alongside the company itself, DeRenzi was knighted by the Italian government in June of this year and awarded the title Cavaliere dell’ordine della Stella d’Italia, or Knight of the Order of the Star of Italy.

For his artistry and resolve, and for his part in bringing international recognition to the hard work of Sarasota Opera and the local artistic community in general, SRQ recognizes Maestro Victor DeRenzi as the Arts and Culture Newsmaker of the Year.

“My love for Verdi is a lifelong obsession that has helped shape me into the person I am today,” says DeRenzi. “Over the course of the 28-year Verdi Cycle, I have had the opportunity to premiere some of his newly uncovered works and also to discover more beauty in the operas I already knew. I have been able to study Verdi’s growth as a musician and learn almost a hundred years of history that surrounded his life. In addition to his music I have come to know Verdi the man. His life as a friend, a farmer and a philanthropist can show us almost as much as his music about ourselves.”

“This Cycle could not have been done without the support of the people of Sarasota. The completion of the Verdi Cycle is not only the accomplishment of Sarasota Opera but an accomplishment shared by our whole community. I am happy to accept the title of Arts and Culture Newsmaker of the Year and I share it with all the artists and employees of Sarasota Opera, the Sarasota Opera Board of Trustees, and Sarasota and Manatee Counties.”

Honorable Mentions: Dr. Larry Thompson, president of Ringling College of Art and Design, has been instrumental in bringing several projects to fruition, including the upcoming Ringling College soundstage, Basch Visual Arts Center and the Sarasota Museum of Art, which look to greatly change the artistic landscape. Artist Richie Brasil has spearheaded the growth of mural-making and street art in Bradenton and Sarasota with a particularly prolific year including exhibitions exploring race in America and public art commissions highlighting Sarasota’s early black populations.

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