Sarasota Winter Opera Festival

March 14 - 19, 2018

Tiefland, Carmen, Norma, Manon Lescaut and the Artists Choice Concert. With superb meals and deluxe rooms at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

Sarasota Opera House ExteriorWhat better way to escape the winter chill than with a sojourn in Sarasota for one of the most unique and enjoyable opera experiences in North America.

Our days will be spent enjoying the sun and sea air, taking in the views of Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, and touring the most significant cultural sites in the area. Our nights will be filled with superb performances and will see us retire to our deluxe rooms at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

Sarasota Opera will open the 2018 Winter Festival Season with the Sarasota Opera première of Manon Lescaut by Giacomo Puccini. Based on the 1731 novel L’histoire du Chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut by Abbé Prévost, this is a story of love at first sight between the Chevalier Des Grieux and the enchanting Manon Lescaut, who is enroute to join a convent at the will of her father.

All-consuming, ill-fated passion rules the tumultuous love of a gypsy and a corporal in Georges Bizet’s Carmen which returns to the Sarasota Opera House stage after its sold-out run in 2012.

Vincenzo Bellini brings passion, vengeance and defiance in his 8th opera, Norma, which premièred in 1831 and has become a tour-de-force role for famous sopranos throughout history. This production will mark the first opera by Vincenzo Bellini performed at the Sarasota Opera House.

The final installment of the 2018 Winter Festival Season brings the Sarasota Opera première of Tiefland (The Lowlands) by Eugen d’Albert. Based on the 1896 Catalan play Terra baixa by Àngel Guimerà, Tiefland was d’Albert’s 7th opera, and is the one which is now his best known. It continues to gain exposure and popularity.

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Itinerary

Wednesday, March 14

Upon arrival at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport, you are met and transferred to the luxurious Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Sarasota’s only 5-star hotel. In the early evening, we gather in the hotel lobby for a Welcome Reception before transferring to our Welcome Dinner at Maison Blanche—one of the top 100 restaurants in America.

Thursday, March 15

Following breakfast (included each day), we enjoy a sightseeing cruise around Lido and Bird Keys along with areas past the Ringling Bridge, into north Sarasota Bay. Afterward, we enjoy lunch at the revered Crab & Fin on St. Armand’s Circle. This evening, we attend our first performance of the festival, Eugen d’Albert’s rarely-seen, early 20th century verismo opera, Tiefland. It is performed regularly in Germany and Austria, but there has been only one other U.S. production within the last century.

Friday, March 16

This morning we will tour the Ringling Cà d’Zan Mansion and Museum of Art. The Ringlings’ dazzling palatial mansion is a tribute to the American Dream and reflects the splendour and romance of Italy. Described as “the last of the Gilded Age mansions” to be built in America, Cà d’Zan has 56 incredible rooms filled with art and original furnishings. With its Venetian Gothic architecture, the mansion is a combination of the grandeur of Venice’s Doge’s Palace, combined with the Gothic grace of Cà d’Oro, with Sarasota Bay serving as its Grand Canal. This evening we dine at the superb Selva Grill, where intricately prepared Nuevo Latino dishes have earned rave reviews from our previous tour members. Tonight, we take our seats for Georges Bizet’s Carmen. We hear some of the most recognizable music in opera, like the “Habanera” and the “Seguidilla” and feel the excitement of the famous “Toreador Song.”

Saturday, March 17

Today we enjoy a private tour of Selby Gardens, which maintains a collection of more than 20,000 greenhouse plants. Following lunch at leisure, we make our way to the opera house for Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma. In roman-occupied Gaul, a Druid Priestess and a Roman official have fallen in love. When her man’s sights are set on a new love, Norma contemplates murder, struggling between love and duty. This evening we enjoy dinner at Duval’s, the best fresh fish restaurant in Sarasota. Afterward, we return to the opera house for Puccini’s first great success, Manon Lescaut. The French tale of a beautiful young woman destroyed by her conflicting needs for love and luxury had already inspired Massenet’s Manon (1884), a relatively new and immensely popular work at the time of Manon Lescaut’s première. Puccini made the story his own and infused it with a new level of frank emotion and a flood of melody. This opera was his first great success, leading George Bernard Shaw to name him “the successor to Verdi.”

Sunday, March 18

Following a day at leisure, we meet for a Farewell Dinner at the perennial favourite—Bijou Café. With its outstanding wine list and award-winning chef Jean-Pierre Knaggs’ famous recipes, this is sure to be a memorable meal. Tonight we attend the Artists Choice Concert, a Festival favourite, where principal and studio artists perform their selections of the best of opera and song.

Monday, March 19

Transfers are included to Sarasota Bradenton International Airport, and will be arranged on-site.