It’s party time for the Sarasota Opera, which is celebrating the 200th birthday of Giuseppe Verdi and the births of two other composers with talks and a free concert.
Sarasota Opera now bills itself as “Verdi’s American Home,” in part because it is nearing the end of its Verdi Cycle, which will culminate in 2016 when the company will have performed every note of music he wrote. The cycle began in 1989 and includes revised versions of operas as well as orchestral and choral works.
At 4 p.m. Thursday, the 200th anniversary of Verdi’s birth, Sarasota Opera will host a talk about the composer and a performance by opera artists at Selby Public Library, 1331 First St., Sarasota.
At about 5 p.m., the party moves across the street to the Opera House, 61 N. Pineapple Ave., where guests will be offered backstage tours, a performance by opera artists and the Sarasota Youth Opera, introductions to the company’s production team and kids-only activities.
Guests will then be invited into the theater for a community sing-along to Verdi’s chorus “Va, pensiero” from “Nabucco.” Birthday cake and door prizes will also be provided.
In New York this weekend, the Verdi Cycle will be the subject of a talk at an international conference put on by the American Institute for Verdi Studies focusing on “Verdi’s Third Century: Italian Opera Today.”
Emily Richmond Pollock, an assistant professor of music at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said what Sarasota Opera has done “is quite extraordinary. It’s not the usual project, and it speaks to the artistic priorities of the company.”
The fact that the entire Verdi Cycle is being performed under the same artistic leadership of Maestro Victor DeRenzi “helps to put things in a different perspective because there is a consistency and stability in the kinds of productions they stage,” she said.
Pollock, whose brother plays bassoon in the opera orchestra, attended last season’s production of “King for a Day” and a Verdi bicentennial concert. She said she discovered that the Verdi Cycle “evolved after they realized it was something that was possible. The company grew into its strength and the audience grew into this as well. That’s a lesson for arts administrators.”
Several other programs are planned at Selby Library to mark Verdi’s birthday, as well as the 200th birthday of Richard Wagner and the 100th birthday of Benjamin Britten.
-- At 10:30 a.m. today, DeRenzi will present a talk on the Verdi Cycle.
-- At 10:30 a.m. Oct. 16, DeRenzi will moderate a discussion and screening of the 1984 documentary “Tosca’s Kiss,” about residents of Casa Verdi, a home for retired Italian opera singers established by the composer in 1902.
-- At 10:30 a.m. Oct. 23, Executive Director Richard Russell will talk about Wagner’s operatic world and the company’s 2014 winter production of “The Flying Dutchman.”
-- At 10:30 a.m. Oct. 30, Samuel Lowry, director of audience development, will join Jesse Martins, music director of the Sarasota Youth Opera, to talk about Britten, whose children’s opera “The Little Sweep” will be presented by the Youth Opera in November.
For more information about the programs: 328-1300; sarasotaopera.org