Sarasota Opera, Sarasota Cuban Ballet to Collaborate

Arts & Culture


Sarasota Opera injects a little Latin flair to the opera house stage this season, collaborating with the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School (SCBS) for three of the five productions in the Fall and Winter opera seasons. The Sarasota Cuban Ballet School has performed regularly on the Sarasota Opera House stage in the past few years, but this will mark the first time the institutions have collaborated on a production. “It’s huge for the school to be featured with such a renowned company,” says SCBS Administrative Director Francesca MacBeth, “to be on this stage and be seen by this audience.”

Beginning with the opera season opener, la Traviata (also marking the return of Verdi to the Sarasota Opera stage), SCBS will be making their presence known. Not only will four dancers from the school be featured as dancers (two at a time, alternating productions), but SCBS Choreographer and Master Teacher Tania Vergara will serve as choreographer for the production. Trained in Cuba and a veteran of the National Ballet School there, Vergara has won several awards for her work, including the Ibero-American Choreography Award and the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba Choreography Award.

In addition to serving as choreographer for la Traviata, Vergara will also serve as choreographer for Act II of Carmen, the only act containing considerable dancing. And just as portions of la Traviata revolve around the world of matadors and bullfighting, the entirety of Carmen takes place in Spain, creating an opportunity for Sarasota Opera to reach out to SCBS and bring a different approach to the stage. “The dancing in both of those shows is steeped in Latin roots,” explains Sarasota Opera Director of Audience Development Sam Lowry, “and Maestro DeRenzi recognizes the high quality of the school’s training.”

“There’s definitely going to be a Latin flavor,” says MacBeth, though, staying true to the opera, will definitely be more of the classical style than the modern. “But the classicism that our dancers are so strong in will come through,” she says. “It’s great exposure for the students and a wonderful opportunity to perform with a live orchestra and all that entails.”

Vergara will return for the final opera of the season, Tiefland, but more to help choreographing the complex movements of the principal characters, and less to choreograph dance.

Pictured: Sarasota Cuban Ballet School dancers. Image courtesy of Soho Images.

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