Friday, June 29, 2012

My Time with Sarasota Opera: An Intern's Retrospective

MY TIME WITH SARASOTA YOUTH OPERA:  An Intern's retrospective on his time with Sarasota Youth Opera. 

Tyler Leppek served as a teaching assistant and administrative intern for SYO during the months of May and June. He is currently entering his Sophomore year at FSU, double majoring in instrumental music education and creative writing.  We asked Tyler to sum up his experience working with the Youth Opera program and we thought you would enjoy reading what he had to say. 

Sarasota Youth Opera Intern Tyler Leppek
Coming away from interning with the Sarasota Youth Opera has left me not only with a numerous number of new skills as a College student, in school trying to garner as much from his experiences as possible, but also with an immeasurable amount of affection directed towards the staff, students, and direction of the Sarasota Opera as a whole. I know of no better example of an institution that caters more to the needs of its diverse students background while still harvesting such amazing product as an outcome.

It was during the rehearsals and over the span of Summer camp that I saw many students grow and blossom in the short time I spent with the company. Nestled in this organization is a passion for excellence and through the directors orchestration it was easy to see the impact that we were making on today’s youth in a place that mattered.

Tyler with two Youth Opera Summer Campers

The SYO fuels not only the arts, but academics as well as their curriculum incorporated elements of Linguistic Skills, Language Arts, History Lessons, paired with Social Techniques, all pieces that will later make for a more convincing and well rounded performer and student. I can say quite candidly as I worked in the rehearsals for the upcoming production of Little Nemo in Slumberland, I will be making the five hour drive from Florida State University to Sarasota to see this production, having witnessed so much of the stunning preparation already as they incorporate even local young performers from outside their organization, creating more ties and connections through the arts as they work with anyone who shares the common denominator of a love for music.

It was this shared similarity that made my experience so gratifying, and such a valuable facet of my education.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"Why I sent my kids to Youth Opera Camp" A Parent's Perspective by Nanette Almeter

With the 2012 Sarasota Youth Opera Camp well underway, we thought it would be fun to let you hear about it from the perspective of those involved.  Over the next couple of weeks, watch out for posts from teachers, administrators, parents and even the campers themselves. 

Today's post comes from Nanette Almeter, a Youth Opera parent whose kids are first time campers, talking about why she decided to send her kids to camp. 

My daughter, Natalie, appeared in the youth chorus of Carmen this past winter season at the Sarasota Opera. It was certainly one of the most special and memorable times in her life thus far. Her little brother, Grayson, came to one of her performances and enjoyed it so much - as I think most children would if given the opportunity. The opera is truly magical, whether you're in the production or in the audience. After such a great experience, we all thought that joining the Youth Opera and becoming part of that magic would be a wonderful idea. Since the Youth Opera season doesn't start up again until August, the Summer Camp sounded like a good way to fill in the gap, have some fun, and really delve into the world of opera, behind the scenes.

After only three days into this summer's Sarasota Youth Opera Camp, I can say that we're so glad to have signed up and joined in the fun! Already, the children are learning about the history of opera and it's composers and librettists, toured the Opera House, and taken part in acting and improvisation classes. Each day, they're continuing to learn the art of singing in a chorus and also rehearsing music from the upcoming children's opera production of Little Nemo in Slumberland, a world-premiere commissioned piece to be presented at the Sarasota Opera House this November. Add to that, a trip to the library to discuss writers, poets and the inspiration for operatic works and a trip to a nearby bookstore to peruse the latest offerings for ideas.

Each day holds new surprises and adventures: today included a trip to the wig and make-up department, where the children observed one of the "campers" being transformed into an elderly man before their eyes. They've also begun watching a recorded Met performance of Rigoletto, an opera which will also be featured at the Sarasota Opera House this Fall. With all of this and more in just the first few days of camp, I can't imagine how much more they will learn and grow in appreciation of great music, acting and singing in the remaining two and a half weeks! Each member of the staff is an exceptional artist, aside from being fun, kind and truly caring. The only thing that would improve this years Opera Camp for me is if my daughter had been able to attend, but she had a previous obligation out of state. She's still keeping up with the daily camp events, however, through her brother and other friends at camp, but she'd love to be there!

Thank you, Sarasota Youth Opera, for this fantastic opportunity. Sincerely, Nanette Almeter

Friday, June 8, 2012

Artists Corner: Baritone Marco Nisticò

Artists Corner:  Artistic Administrator, Greg Trupiano, interviews baritone Marco Nisticò and his thoughts on making his role debut as the jester Rigoletto this fall. 
Greg Trupiano, Artistic Administrator of Sarasota Opera, here.  I recently had the pleasure to chat with one of Sarasota audiences’ favorite singers, baritone Marco Nisticò. Marco returns for the fall production as the title character in Rigoletto, having last been heard with the company as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly. Since last year, he has appeared as Dulcamara in L’elisir d’amore at the Landestheater Bregenz in Austria, as well as singing Guglielmo in Così fan tutte at Italy’s Teatro Regio di Torino.

Baritone Marco Nisticò
I asked Marco about his thoughts as he prepared to sing the role of Rigoletto for the first time. Here are some of the things that Marco says about his next assignment at Sarasota Opera.
“For a baritone, the title role of Rigoletto is as good as it gets. Vocally it’s a very rewarding opera but also challenging because of its dramatic intensity and length. There are qualities in Rigoletto’s character that I can relate to. Rigoletto loves his daughter, and even though I don’t have children myself, I can identify with this feeling through my love of my own family. Also, Rigoletto sings lovingly about his deceased wife who felt such pity for him and loved him despite his deformity. Rigoletto is a complex character. I do not think he is evil at all. Whatever he does he does because he is trying to protect his daughter from a serious threat to her honor.”
Marco continues, “Performing Rigoletto is a personal achievement, a place I arrive at after having performed a number of Verdi roles. Maestro DeRenzi has taught me to sing Verdi by producing a strong vocal line. When I work with Maestro DeRenzi, I trust what is going on because artistic decisions come from a place of respect for the opera and respect for me. When you work on an opera by a great composer, a crazy staging doesn’t work. You must go with the music and not against it. With a great composer, 90% of the work is done for you. It’s your job to believe in it.”
Because it is such a challenging role, Marco has been working on the music for months, long before arriving in Sarasota. But even before then, he started to learn the role of Rigoletto; it’s a dream role for any baritone.

I concluded my conversation with Marco by asking him what other roles he would like to perform after Rigoletto. He said, “I would love the chance to sing the roles of Macbeth and Simon Boccanegra. Please note that these are major characters, sung by baritones—not tenors-- that have the operas named after them!”

Don't miss your chance to see Marco make this important debut this season.  Performances run October 26 through November 12, 2012.  More information can be found at