St. Petersburg Opera unveils new home

Times staff

It's a historic week for St. Petersburg Opera. After years of scrambling for rehearsal space in rented clubs or even board members' homes, the company finally has a home of its own.

On Friday, the company will throw open the doors of Opera Central, firmly planting roots as part of the flourishing bay area opera scene, which also includes Opera Tampa and Sarasota Opera.

"We've taken a big step in investing in the neighborhood to create a cultural hub, but our main focus is, of course, creating great opera productions," said Nancy Preis, chief financial officer of the company and a board member.

The 8-year-old company, steadily growing in stature, takes over a 10,000-square-foot space at 2145 First Ave. S in the Grand Central and Warehouse Arts District, which houses offices, costume and set shops, a music library, rehearsal halls, event space and small performance halls. A free ribbon-cutting and open house will include tours, exhibits, entertainment by SPO performers and refreshments, starting at 2 p.m. Friday. St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster will attend.

The company bought the building in August 2012 for $425,000 and spent months renovating it. Built in 1953, the concrete block structure was vacant for several years.

To celebrate, and in conjunction with National Opera Week, the opera has several events there (all-event pass is $60. (727) 823-2040):

Symphonic Chat

A new series patterned after Evenings with the Maestro, but focused on the upcoming Tampa Bay Symphony programs, with maestro Mark Sforzini. The first program is "Lyricism in Brahms' Third Symphony and Haydn's Cello Concerto" will feature Fred Gratta, cello, and Brent Douglas, piano. 6 p.m. today. $12 advance, $15 door. (Sforzini leads the opera and the symphony.)

Late Night Cabaret

Come late for a cocktail and a New York-style cabaret, featuring Ron Earl, Melissa Misener and Jacqueline Graham, with Brent Douglas on piano. 11 p.m. Saturday. $15.

Resident Artists Scenes Program

An evening of opera scenes with chamber orchestra featuring Todd Donovan, Vanessa Rodriguez, Michelle Rego, Aleks Ritums, and more in scenes from Gianni Schicchi, Rigoletto and The Barber of Seville. 7:30 p.m. Nov. 1. $25.

Chamber Concert

World renowned pianists Rebecca Penneys and Grigorios Zamparis, clarinetist Brian Moorhead, bassoonists Mark Sforzini and Anthony Carlson, and sopranos Johanna Fincher and Vanessa Rodriguez join forces in music of Mozart, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Sforzini and more. 4 p.m. Nov. 2. $20.

St. Petersburg Opera unveils new home 10/22/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 5:28pm]

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