Victor DeRenzi, Artistic Director
The 2015-16 Season will be Maestro Victor DeRenzi’s 34th year as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of Sarasota Opera. As the company’s Artistic Director, Maestro DeRenzi has produced over 100 different operas and conducted almost 650 performances for the
He has devoted much of his career to building Sarasota Opera while continuing to conduct
nationally and internationally. Maestro DeRenzi has appeared across the United States with
Lyric Opera of Chicago as well as at the St. Louis, Toledo, New Orleans, and New York City operas.
Internationally he has worked in Nice, Edmonton, Quebec City, Winnipeg, Hamilton, and at
L’Opéra du Montréal. He was also a frequent visitor to opera companies in Hong Kong and the
Maestro DeRenzi’s artistic vision has garnered the company international attention as a place to
experience rarely performed operatic works. He initiated Sarasota Opera’s Verdi Cycle, which
will see the performance of the complete works of Giuseppe Verdi, the Masterworks Revival
Series, which produces neglected operas of significant artistic merit, and the American Classics
Series, dedicated to producing 20th Century operas by American composers. This growth in
artistic reputation has been matched in many other areas as well.
Under Maestro DeRenzi’s leadership, Sarasota Opera has created important educational and
outreach activities. The year-round activities of the Sarasota Youth Opera Program are designed
to introduce young people, ages 8 to 18, to all aspects of opera. The program constitutes a
remarkable learning and performing opportunity with three Youth Opera choruses and a
tri-annual production of a commissioned and professionally staged opera with the Youth Opera
members performing. In November, 2012 the Sarasota Youth Opera presented the World
Premiere of the opera Little Nemo in Slumberland by composer Daron Hagen and librettist
J.D. McClatchy. In the fall of 2014, the Sarasota Youth Opera program presented a remount
of their production of Dean Burry’s The Hobbit based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic story.
Maestro DeRenzi’s interest in the training of professional singers led to the founding of Sarasota Opera’s Apprentice and Studio Artists programs. Chosen from national auditions, the participants in the Apprentice and Studio Artists Program form the chorus for the main stage productions, perform community outreach programs, understudy principal roles as well as perform secondary roles on the mainstage. Many former Sarasota Opera Apprentice and Studio Artists have gone on to perform leading roles with the company as well as with major opera houses around the world.
Maestro DeRenzi is a noted Verdi specialist. Sarasota Opera’s 2014 production of Jérusalem marked the 31st different Verdi opera he has conducted. Arts Critic Lawrence Johnson wrote, “Victor DeRenzi is simply the finest, most idiomatic Verdi conductor I’ve ever heard, and I’m not forgetting some much more celebrated names.” Maestro DeRenzi has also led almost all of the composer’s non-operatic output, as well as editing a two-volume edition of his songs with piano, many of which were not previously available. Through The Verdi Cycle, which he began in 1989, Maestro DeRenzi and Sarasota Opera are committed to performing the entire canon of Verdi’s works. Although Maestro DeRenzi is a noted Verdi and Puccini conductor, his repertoire also includes operas by Janáček, Mozart, Wagner, Tchaikovsky, Smetana, and Stravinsky, among others.
In 2007, Maestro DeRenzi was honored by OPERA America for 25 years of service and he sits on the advisory board of the American Institute of Verdi Studies at New York University. The City of Sarasota has recognized him on three separate occasions for service to the community and he was inducted into the Sarasota Community Video Archives Hall of Fame in 2007. He was also featured on the cover of the March 2007 issue of Sarasota magazine, which has twice recognized him as one of Sarasota’s 100 Most Powerful People.
During Sarasota Opera’s 2014-15 season, Maestro DeRenzi conducted a remount of Puccini’s Tosca as well as the company’s premiere production of the original Paris version of Don Carlos as part of The Verdi Cycle.