seats and backdrop at the historic asolo theatre in Sarasota, Florida
Historic Asolo Theatre

Season of the Arts: Winter 2019 Arts and Cultural Offerings in Sarasota County

While temperatures never drop too low, we have a cool blend of classic and contemporary art happenings for novices and aficionados alike.

October 16, 2019

We’ve put together a quick highlight of some of the seasonal offerings in Sarasota County this Winter, ranging from recognizable and beloved works and themes to those waiting to be discovered. Check out the overview below and reserve your tickets where applicable; some of these events sell out several weeks ahead of their premiere!

Theater

Florida Studio Theatre (FST)
1241 N Palm Ave, Sarasota, FL 34236
This year’s Winter Cabaret Season from FST comes out swinging with some very eclectic moves from Pops, to Country, and the 1960’s musical landscape. Headlining this Cabaret is a musical revue called “That’s Amoré” which exhibits the songbook of Dean Martin, which runs now until February 2 in FST’s Court Cabaret. Sarasota does manage to find a few ways to “swing” into Winter when other destinations bundle up into it, and Dean Martin’s musical legacy has more than enough swing and style to kick that swinging season off in Sarasota. 

FST will also feature their seasonal Fall Improv lineup ending December 21, at nearly the same time as their Winter Cabaret season. One of the improv shows, “Out of Bounds,” features a competitive improv element that has proven a favorite with Sarasota audiences.

Asolo Repertory Theatre
5555 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34243
The Asolo Repertory Theatre goes wide this season, with varying themes and tones across their respective shows; a piece for every mood, perhaps? From classic musicals to murder mysteries and more. Rogers and Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music” runs from November 16 – December 28; Agatha Christie’s Murder on The Orient Express” from January 10 – March 8; the “Lifespan of A Fact” from January 24 – March 19; and “Into the Breeches” from February 14 – March 21. Learn More

Urbanite Theatre
1487 2nd St, Sarasota, FL 34236
This theatre continues to push the envelope with their often edgy works this season. Including “The Thanksgiving Play” from November 8 – December 15 is a satire about cultural sensitivity around the Thanksgiving Holiday; and “The Sender” from January 10-16 is a dark millennial comedy about an apparently false death and adulthood. Learn More.

Music

Sarasota Orchestra
709 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34236
The 2019-2020 season includes a Classical Romance Masterworks series from November 8 – 10 featuring works by Mozart and Dvorak, a Roman Festivals Masterworks series from December 6 – 8 featuring works by Respighhi, Elgar, and Brusch, and a Sounds of the Season “Great Escapes series featuring holiday classics from Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcraker,” Respighi’s “L’adorazione dei Magi,” Rose’s “Holiday for Strings,” and many more. Sarasota Orchestra has long been considered one of Sarasota’s prime examples of big city musicianship caliber in bite-sized-paradise surroundings, and the classics this year will continue to stay in style. Learn More.

Venice Symphony
1515 S Tamiami Trail #7, Venice, FL 34285
Further south, the Venice Symphony will present their “A Very Merry Holiday Pops” concert from December 20 – 21, featuring Hollywood-Holiday favorites from the scores of “Home Alone” and “Polar Express” alongside holiday classics like “Deck the Hall” and “Carol of the Bells.” From January 10 – 11, the “Cosmic Convergence” show will continue this Hollywood-plus-classics mashup with music from “Star Trek” alongside works by Gustav Holst and Dvorak. Later in February 7 – 8, the “Shaken Not Stirred: The Music of James Bond” bring more music from the silver screen to Venice symphony-goers. Learn More.

Opera

Opera in Sarasota is one of the other surprisingly strong and powerful art experiences to be found in a relatively modestly sized beach town. When you’re in the Opera House, between those walls, the “where” submits to the expansive excellence of the “what” and the “who,” which is a beautiful Opera venue hosting an unusually talented Opera cast; including youth performers. 

Sarasota Opera
61 N Pineapple Ave, Sarasota, FL 34236
The 2019 Fall Season opens with Verdi’s “Rigoletto,” the tragedy of the vengeful hunchbacked court jester and the lustful Duke of Mantua, featuring six performances through November 17. The great Czech work “Brundubar” will be performed by Sarasota Youth Opera, performed by musicians aged 8 through 18. The Winter 2020 Season will open with a favorite of their critically acclaimed cast’s, Puccini’s “La bohème.” Next will be Charles Gounod’s “Romeo & Juliet,” not performed at Sarasota Opera since 1993; followed by Gaetano Donizetti’s “The Elixer of Love” and finally “La Wally” by Alfredo Catalani, not seen in the U.S. (let alone Sarasota) for more than 30 years. 

Most interestingly, Sarasota Opera recently celebrated the acquisition of a historic collection of opera costumes from Toronto-based Malabar Ltd. The collection consists of costumes for over 130 opera productions, including over 30,000 individual costumes. The collection features costumes worn by such opera legends as Luciano Pavarotti, Beverly Sills, and Marilyn Horne. The acquisition of this collection will ensure the high quality of Sarasota Opera’s costumes for years to come, under the guidance of our Resident Costume Designer Howard Tsvi Kaplan.

Learn more about Sarasota Opera’s 2019 Fall Season.

Dance

Sarasota Ballet

Sarasota Ballet prides itself on delivering works not often performed in the United States, and that includes contemporary premieres by intriguing new artists. A few company premieres included in this 2019-2020 season: David Bintley's The Spider Feast, Sir Frederick Ashton's Dante Sonata and Romeo and Juliet, Jerome Robbins' In The Night, Paul Taylor's Brandenburgs, and George Balanchine's Western Symphony

Returning works include a program dedicated to the choreography of Sarasota Ballet Resident Choreographer Ricardo Graziano. Others include Matthe Hart's John Ringling's Circus Nutcracker, George Balanchine's Theme and Variations, Sir Frederick Ashton's Les Rendezvous and Sir Kenneth MacMillan's Las Hermanas. The John Ringling's Circus Nutcracker in particular offers special Sarasota-specific flavor, as John and Mable Ringling were icons of local history; their former mansion remains a landmark and testament to this fact in its current form as the Ringling Museum. Learn More

Sarasota Cuban Ballet

The Sarasota Cuban Ballet brings their prestigious traditional talents into a number of wonderful Sarasota venues, including an Orchid Evening show at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens on November 6, featuring choreography by award-winning resident Tania Vergara. Also be on the lookout for a performance of The Nutcracker at the Venice Performing Arts Center on December 14 and 15 featuring the first collaboration ever between the Venice Symphony under conductor Maestro Joseph Caulkins and the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School. Learn More.

Sarasota Contemporary Dance

The “Growing Larger” Main Stage Season (2019-2020) is Sarasota Contemporary Dance’s fourteenth season of innovative, cutting-edge modern dance programs in Sarasota. Part of this innovation includes exciting collaborations, including the December 5-8 performance with Sarasota local funk music favorites Reverand Barry & The Funk, which explores the musical and dance-languages of funk, groove, and boogie. The Dance Makers show from January 30 - February 2 is an assemblage of several nationally-recognized choreographers in one event, including Terrance Henderson, Bliss Kohlmyer, Maria Bauman-Morales, and Adele Myers. Learn More.

Visual Arts and Museums

Museums

The Ringling
5401 Bay Shore Rd, Sarasota, FL 34243
The Ringling will feature Zodiac-themed work by acclaimed artist Ai Weiwei, showcasing 12 sculptures of the Chinese Zodiac constructed entirely out of Lego bricks (yes, the childrens toy) from November 17 – February 2. These sculptures are a re-interpretation of the Chinese Zodiac, which harkens back to his 2010 internationally acclaimed sculpture series Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Bronze and Gold. To have the work of an artist of Ai Wei Wei’s international stature and substance speaks well of The Ringling’s own prestige, and Sarasota is proud to host such innovative and subtly provocative contemporary work alongside its collection of Baroque masterpieces and the like.

From November 21 – 24 the museum will offer an Artists and Climate Change Incubator with Chantal Bilodeau of The Arctic Cycle (NYC). The program will include interdisciplinary conversations and interaction with exhibits, film and workshops. The Incubator is an intensive workshop for artists, activists, scientists, citizens and educators interested in engaging, or furthering their engagement with, climate change through the arts.

Interactive Murals in Rosemary Square

Along Boulevard of the Arts in Downtown Sarasota is the newly developed the Rosemary District. In line with its swanky yet hip vibe, several interactive-arts-themed murals have been created, inviting visitors to engage with the art and even reproduce it in the form of selfies within the framing of the pieces. A 3-D ballet-themed mural by artist Truman Adams precedes another of his soon-to-be completed dance pieces with a more contemporary-dance theme. It’s an example of public art being stimulated by the Art Impact Initiative and Rosemary Square’s owner group, which will continue to foster murals monthly until at least December, potentially longer.

Garden Art

Orchids are one of the most entrancing kinds of garden-life, wherein nature seems to have set to work with its own subtle sculpture tools and its own fine-tipped paintbrushes, luring both captivated humans and insects to its ghostly design. Unbeknownst to most, Sarasota is home to a respected world leader in the study and conservation of plants, particularly epiphytes–plants adapted to live in the tree canopy, including orchids, bromeliads, gesneriads and ferns, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. This season, they have a particularly beautiful Asian Orchid exhibit open through December 1. In collaboration with The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, “Blossoms of Asia” orchid show hosts a showcases these plants in their Tropical Conservatory, featuring a traditional Japanese bonsai and ikebana garden design.