This limited-engagement performance combines acclaimed international musicians and an aerialist for a diverse night of entertainment.
Sarasotans love their orchestra concerts almost as much as they love the circus.
But what if you could have elements of both in the same performance?
“Classical Music Celebration” aims to do just that. This limited-engagement performance features international music acts CARisMA, German violinist Sven Stucke, French soprano Ariadne Greif and Italian-American baritone Roberto Borgatti along with local aeralist Olga Coronas for what organizers are calling an evening of “music for the senses.”
Sarasota-based companies ESFM Entertainment and InterMedia Productions are co-producing the event, which was originally scheduled for September but was moved to May due to Hurricane Irma.
Both companies say their goal is simple: to create an exciting off-season show unlike anything else in Sarasota.
“We wanted to create something related to the arts that was a little different,” says event co-producer and ESFM Entertainment President Javier Merino.
It all began a little less than two years ago when Merino was producing an Andrea Bocelli concert in Guatemala that was part of a tour with husband-and-wife classical guitar duo CARisMA.
With influences ranging from Claude Debussy to Daft Punk, Magdalena Kaltcheva and her husband Carlos Corrieri have gained a reputation as a dynamic musical pair, and the success of their concerts with Bocelli made Merino think of what they could achieve as headliners of their first solo performance in the U.S.
Once the two signed on, Merino realized he needed a strong orchestra to drive the performance forward. Cue maestro Raffaele Ponti, an award-winning conductor of both the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra in Port Charlotte and the Paducah Orchestra in Kentucky.
Ponti assembled a 34-piece orchestra called the Royal Symphony Orchestra made up of local professionals from symphonies in Sarasota, Bradenton, North Port, Venice, Anna Maria, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Orlando and beyond.
“When you get a call from an international producer like Javier, you pick up the phone,” says Ponti, who was grateful to lead what he calls a highly talented group of musicians. “As a conductor, you aspire to work with great musicians, and when you inspire them, they inspire you.”
The maestro describes the concert lineup as walking the line of popular and classical music, including everything from Astor Piazzolla’s “Oblivion” to John Williams’ theme from “Schindler’s List.” He says this approach will attract a diverse audience, particularly those who want an energetic, theatrical experience that doesn’t hide the orchestra in the pit.
“Instead of the orchestra playing a supportive role, it’s an important part of the performance,” Ponti says. “They (the producers) felt the musicians should be seen.”
Aerialist Olga Coronas, who is from Kazakhstan but lives in Sarasota after performing with Circus Sarasota, will be suspended above the orchestra while performing her aerial silks and lyra routines.
Planning the logistics of how this will happen is uncharted territory for both producing organizations and the Sarasota Opera House staff, but it’s the risk of doing something no organization has done before that excites them.
“She’s got to be exact and interpret that music through motion,” Ponti says of Coronas. “It’ll be more than just looking at violin strings moving.”
This is the first time Merino’s Sarasota-based company, ESFM Entertainment, will put on an event in Sarasota. He travels to hundreds of cities around the world producing international sports, music and other large-scale events, but he’s excited to finally bring an event to the city he calls home.
“This is not only for opera or classical music people,” Merino says. “This is for anyone who enjoys music ... to enjoy something new.”
A portion of the proceeds from the event will benefit the Payton Wright Foundation, which supports families caring for a child with brain cancer.