Historic Asolo Theater Grand Operatic Opening
Friday, Oct. 6, 2006
SARASOTA, Fla. – Aug. 4, 2006 – A new chapter in Sarasota history begins Friday, Oct. 6, 2006 as revelers gather at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art to celebrate Opening Night 2006 of the newly restored Historic Asolo Theater. The fundraising event honors the theater’s celebrated tradition of grand operatic openings with performances by three leading talents in the world of opera.
Gracing the stage with an eclectic program of arias is Metropolitan Opera star, Susan Graham. Hailed by Gramophone Magazine as “America’s favorite mezzo,” Graham has sung leading roles in the great opera houses of the world, including La Scala, Covent Garden, Paris, Chicago, Santa Fe and the Salzburg Festival, and has appeared with such orchestras including the Vienna Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic and the Boston Symphony.
Accompanying Graham at the piano is Jake Heggie, the renowned composer of whom the San Francisco Chronicle wrote, “today’s singers are lining up to sing his music.” The leading role in his internationally acclaimed opera Dead Man Walking (created in collaboration with Terrence McNally) was premiered by Graham, while much of Heggie's other music has been recorded and premiered by such legendary contemporary artists as Renee Fleming and Frederica Von Stade. Currently, Heggie is commissioned by both the Metropolitan and Houston Grand Opera for new works.
Heggie will also play the piano for a performance of his one-woman opera, At the Statue of Venus. Lyric soprano Kristin Clayton, who created a sensation when she sang the world premiere of the work for the opening of America’s newest opera house (Opera Colorado, 2005), now presents a special encore performance of the aria for the opening of America’s oldest European opera house (Historic Asolo, 2006). The program also includes duet performances by Clayton and Graham.
Created in Asolo, Italy in 1798, the Asolo Theater came to the Ringling Museum in the early 1950s and soon became treasured and revered as the nascent center of Sarasota’s flourishing culture of performing arts.
The 1952 Opening Night featured artists of the New York City Center Opera in works by Mozart and Pergolesi. When the theater reopened in a new building in 1958, City Center Opera once again performed the music of Mozart. While Mozart will appear yet again on the 2006 program, Ringling Museum Curator of Theater Programming Dwight Currie emphasizes, “this is an opening for the 21st century, and for it we have the artists and the music of our time. Jake Heggie is our Mozart; it promises to be an historic occasion to have his music performed in the splendor of America’s only18th-century Baroque theater.”
Impresario Scott George of New Century Artists produces and directs the benefit event.
Dinner and dancing follows the gala performance, with a four-course dinner inspired by the traditional cuisine of Asolo, Italy, served in the dining rooms and lakeside terraces of Treviso, the Ringling Museum’s elegant new restaurant. Invitations for the black-tie fundraiser have been issued to Museum supporters, but may also be requested by calling the Curator of Theater Programming office at 941.359.5700 ext. 7302. Tickets for the champagne reception, performance, dinner and dancing are $1,000 or $750 based on theater seating. Only 250 guests will be admitted.
The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Florida State University, is the state art museum of Florida. It preserves, develops, and enhances the legacy of John and Mable Ringling and engages and educates a large and diverse audience in a world-renowned collection of art, Cà d'Zan (the Ringlings’ mansion) and its historic contents, collections documenting the circus and its history, the historic Asolo Theater, and the architecture, courtyard, gardens, and grounds overlooking Sarasota Bay.