Arts Notes

Refurbished opera house reopening

JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times
American Stage’s Gone with the Wind-inspired play Moonlight and Magnolias starred Matthew McGee as screenwriter Ben Hecht, Bryan Barter as producer David O. Selznick and Christopher Swan as director Victor Fleming.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times American Stage’s Gone with the Wind-inspired play Moonlight and Magnolias starred Matthew McGee as screenwriter Ben Hecht, Bryan Barter as producer David O. Selznick and Christopher Swan as director Victor Fleming.

The Sarasota Opera House reopens Saturday after an 11-month, $20-million renovation. Executive director Susan Danis predicts that longtime operagoers will be wowed by the changes.

"Except for the basic bones of the building, virtually everything's been transformed, from the floor to the carpet to the seats to the walls to the proscenium arch and grand drape,'' Danis said. "The theater has a totally different feel than it used to.''

Saturday's festivities will begin in the afternoon, leading up to a performance of Verdi's Rigoletto, then a gala under a huge tent outside the opera house.

The theater's capacity has been expanded from 1,033 to 1,198 seats. The orchestra pit has nearly doubled in size.

"The pit is deeper,'' Danis said. "The musicians don't have to duck. They actually have elbow room. We used to be able to get 40 to 45 musicians in there. It was a tight squeeze. We can do 75 to 80 now, depending on the orchestration.''

The size of the stage has stayed essentially the same, limited by the alley behind the theater. There are new stage rigging, surtitle technology and lighting.

The season's opening is a few weeks later than usual because of the renovation, but the company is presenting its customary complement of four productions, with Puccini's La Rondine, Verdi's I Due Foscari and Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte also on the agenda. Information: (941) 366-8450; toll-free 1-888-673-7212; www.sarasotaopera.org.

JOBSITE: "This is a make-or-break year for Jobsite,'' producing artistic director David Jenkins writes in a program note to Jobsite Theater's current production, Boston Marriage by David Mamet. The company, in residence at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center's Shimberg Playhouse, has announced its 10th anniversary season, which includes a Shakespeare-inspired rock musical by Joe Popp. Information: (813) 229-7827.

2008: Blackbird by David Harrower (Sept. 11-28); The History of the Devil by Clive Barker (Oct. 30-Nov. 16).

2009: Picasso at the Lapin Agile by Steve Martin (Jan. 8-25); The Lieutenant of Inishmore by Martin McDonagh (March 19-April 5); Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay Abaire (June 5-22); and Pericles by Joe Popp after Shakespeare (Aug. 7-24).

MOONLIGHT: Never underestimate the appeal of Tara. Moonlight and Magnolias, the supposed backstory of the writing of Gone With the Wind's screenplay, was the third-most-attended mainstage production in American Stage's nearly 30 years. The comedy sold 4,240 tickets in its five-week run, behind Anna in the Tropics (4,272) and Dinner with Friends (4,327), both of which ran six weeks.

SAX MAN: Indian alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa and his jazz quartet are presented in the latest Emit concert. "Mahanthappa displays a visceral tone and a grab-you-by-the-collar attack that dares the listener to turn away,'' the New Yorker said. The group plays at 8 p.m. Saturday at St. Petersburg College's Music Center, 6605 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $10.

John Fleming can be reached at fleming@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8716.

Refurbished opera house reopening 02/28/08 [Last modified: Thursday, February 28, 2008 7:48pm]

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