Night at the Sarasota Opera
I saw “La Cenerentola” (Cinderella) at the Sarasota Opera Wednesday night. There was no fairy godmother, no singing mice, no pumpkin-to-carriage-to-pumpkin vehicle, and no glass slipper. Yes, my cultural exposure of Cinderella prior to that evening has been the Disney version. Thankfully, the core of the animated version is much like the opera version: Cinderella has two not-so-nice step-sisters, is treated as a servant and wins the prince’s heart with her purity and honest heart.
Located above the stage was a teleprompter which translated essential plot lines from Italian to English, making it easy to follow along, too. You can kind of see it in the photo below. (Photography is not permitted during the performance, I snapped this before it started.)
Where to Dine Before the Sarasota Opera
My friend Zelda Mae was able to score tickets (meaning FREE) for the evening so we had a mid-week girls’ night out which began with dinner at the casual Italian eatery Cafe Americano. The restaurant is within a 5-minute walk of the Sarasota Opera and since the focus was on the opera and would be listening to Italian all evening, this was the perfect fit.
We each dined on pasta dishes, mine capellini con gamberi, spinaci e pomodoro fresco for $13.95 (angel hair pasta with shrimp, spinach and tomato)…
…while Zelda Mae enjoyed farfalle con salsiccia, melanzane e pomodoro, priced at $12.95 ( bow tie pasta with sausage, eggplant and tomato sauce. Of course, dinner included a bottle of a nice sweet, white wine.
Service was relatively quick as the server was aware of our 8 o’clock opera appointment.
Sarasota Opera Perspective from a First-Timer
The opera experience was interesting. Like most of Southwest Florida, Sarasota has an older population and many of them came out that night as well as a sprinkling of younger folks. Many women dressed glamorously with glittering and flowing gowns with their gentlemen dressed in sharp suits. It’s not the winter opera season so I didn’t see tuxedos.
The performance was fabulous. Costumes gorgeous, story entertaining, singing magnificent. The stage set reminded me of a vintage Victorian postcard, the kind with vibrant flowers and gold trim.
Oh, the Bathrooms
Most interesting was the restroom situation. The first act of “La Cenerentola” was one hour and 40 minutes long and if you got up to leave to use the restroom, you can’t be let back in until there’s a break, which were few. Since both of us consumed half a bottle of wine and at least three glasses of water, we waited until the last possible moment to use the restroom before the performance.
During intermission, we boogied to the restroom (again). Zelda Mae made it before I did as I was almost taken out by an elderly patron who tried to body block me in a race to the toilet. She realized the rudeness of her ways and said I could go ahead but I smiled and told her she must need it more than I did. There’s an attendant in the restroom who directed patrons to open stalls which made the line move quickly.
With the first act being more than 90-minutes long, I worried whether I’d be able to stay awake. I did, the story moved along quickly, but some around me dozed off. The second act, less than 40 minutes, moved along at a swift pace.
My Tips for Heading to the Opera
If heading to the Sarasota Opera, pack along something dressy, arrive early to find a place to park or valet. Parking is a challenge in downtown Sarasota (a parking garage is being built) and once the winter season arrives, you may be better off taking a cab downtown. Just depends on how close to downtown you are staying. There are plenty of restaurants in downtown Sarasota within walking distance of the opera, try to find one by 6:30 p.m. Check out the Sarasota Convention & Visitors Bureau website for a list of restaurants. Bring cash for the refreshment stand.
Sarasota Opera Box Office
61 N. Pineapple Avenue
Tel: (941) 366-8450
1409 Main St.
Tel: (941) 365-1026