Sarasota Youth Opera Awarded NEA Art Works Grant

Sarasota Youth Opera Awarded NEA Art Works GrantNational Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $80 million in grants as part of the NEA's second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2018. Included in this announcement is an Art Works grant of $20,000 to the Sarasota Youth Opera program to support their 2018 re-mount of The Little Sweep by Benjamin Britten. The Art Works category is the NEA's largest funding category and supports projects that focus on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and/or the strengthening of communities through the arts.

"The variety and quality of these projects speaks to the wealth of creativity and diversity in our country," said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. "Through the work of organizations such as the Sarasota Youth Opera program in Sarasota, FL, NEA funding invests in local communities, helping people celebrate the arts wherever they are."

"The unique musical and educational opportunities offered to members of the Sarasota Youth Opera program are the direct result of the continued support of the NEA," says Executive Director Richard Russell. "We welcome this grant as an endorsement of our mission to continue making music education a priority in our community."

LITTLE SWEEP by Benjamin Britten

The acclaimed Sarasota Youth Opera will present a re-mount of their 2013 production of Benjamin Britten's opera The Little Sweep. Premiered at the Aldeburgh Festival in 1949, The Little Sweep tells the story of a group of children, with the help of a kind nursery maid, who work to free a young chimney sweep apprentice from his cruel master. In addition, this production will include a special prologue written by Martha Collins, stage director, and Jesse Martins, Youth Opera Music Director, which shows the audience how an opera comes together.

This enchanting work, sure to delight both children and adults alike, will be presented on November 3rd and 4th with a school matinee performance on November 5th. The children principal roles and chorus will be performed by members of the Sarasota Youth Opera program. The adult roles will be performed by members of the Sarasota Opera Apprentice Program.

Tickets for The Little Sweep are currently available for purchase by 2018/19 Sarasota Opera Subscribers. Single tickets will be available exclusively online August 1st and in the Sarasota Opera box office September 4th. For more information, please visit or call (941) 328-1300.

For 34 years Sarasota Youth Opera has given thousands of young people the opportunity to experience opera first hand through participation in after-school choruses, Sarasota Opera mainstage productions, summer workshops, and fully staged Youth Opera productions. As the only program in the United States committed to presenting annual full-scale opera productions for young voices, accepting all who wish to participate regardless of skill level or ability to pay, Sarasota Youth Opera is a national model for opera education.

Part of Sarasota Opera's commitment to young people includes the commissioning of new operatic works written for children and young adults. Six new works have been presented as part of this mission: Deadline (1989), Polly Pen's Her Lightness (1993), Tom Suta's Eye of Ra (1998), John Kennedy's The Language of Birds (2004), Daron Hagen's Little Nemo in Slumberland (2012), and Rachel J. Peters' Rootabaga Country (2017).

Based on Florida's beautiful Gulf Coast, Sarasota Opera recently completed its internationally acclaimed Verdi Cycle making it the only company in the world to have performed every work of Giuseppe Verdi.

In 1960, the company began presenting chamber-sized repertoire in the historic 320-seat Asolo Theater on the grounds of Sarasota's Ringling Museum of Art. Recognizing the need for a theater more conducive to opera, the company purchased the former A.B. Edwards Theater in downtown Sarasota in 1979 and first performing in it in 1984 as the Sarasota Opera House. The theater has just undergone a $20 million renovation and rehabilitation enhancing audience amenities, while updating the technical facilities including increasing the size of the orchestra pit. The theater, which reopened in March 2008, has been called "one of America's finest venues for opera" by Musical America.

Since 1983, the company has been under the artistic leadership of Victor DeRenzi and administrative leadership of Executive Director Richard Russell since 2012. The company has garnered international attention with its Masterwork Revivals Series, which presents neglected works of artistic merit, as well as the Verdi Cycle producing the complete works of Giuseppe Verdi. Recognizing the importance of training, Maestro DeRenzi founded the Apprentice Artist and Studio Artist programs. Sarasota Opera also maintains a commitment to education through its Invitation to Opera performances for local schools and the unique Sarasota Youth Opera program.

Sarasota Opera is sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Programs are supported in part by an award the Tourist Development Tax through the Board of County Commissioners, the Tourist Development Council and the Sarasota County Arts Council. Additional funding is provided by the City of Sarasota and the County of Sarasota.

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