Verdi comes to an end, the rain doesn't bother Sarasota Garden club and more...
| 6:00 a.m. March 23, 2016
Bienvenuti a Sarasota
It’s possible to make the argument that opera people are among the world’s most intense. The evidence ranges from little things, such as fans who routinely see a single production several times in a single season, to a one-of-a-kind, grand passion such as that of Sarasota Opera MaestroVictor DeRenzi. His 28-year Verdi Cycle wrapped up March 20, making Sarasota Opera, the only company in the world to have performed all of Giuseppe Verdi’s works and revisions that were intended for performance and that are available.
With respect to Maestro’s scholarly accuracy, it means our opera has performed virtually every note that Verdi wrote — and it has taken 28 years.
If it is difficult to fully comprehend the effort that went into that accomplishment, it is easy to celebrate. And that’s what the Verdi Cycle Grand Finale Week, was all about. Sarasota welcomed the Music Critics Association of North America for its 2016 Winter Institute. Two of Verdi’s heirs and their spouses came from Italy, as did Enzo Petrolini. He is the president of the “Club dei 27 – Gruppo Appassionati Verdiani,” the model for Sarasota Opera’s “Verdi 33” – a select group of Cycle supporters. (The Italian “fan club” counts the 27 original operas; the Sarasota count of 33 includes the revisions.) There were lectures, exhibits, performances and, of course, parties. This photo is from the “Verdi 33” dinner at the Francis March 17. See more of our coverage on page 9.
“She was a pistol”
Ursula Pearson died at her Sarasota Bay Club home March 17, half way to her 105th birthday, which would have been Nov. 12. The date is memorable because this column covered her 100th birthday. Ursula was renowned for her erudition, for her loyalty to her alma mater, Smith College, and for her volunteer work for local organizations. Well into her late 90s, she did a regular shift at Designing Women Boutique, whose founder Jean Weidner Goldstein is quoted above. Ursula attributed her longevity to keeping socially and intellectually active; we honor her and thank her for the great example she provided.
Rain, rain go away
The Sarasota Garden Club sold 450 tickets for its March 19 Third Annual “Gardens in Paradise” tour, which opened five private gardens and the club’s own Sarasota Botanical Garden to visitors. The FAQs advised attendees to bring umbrellas and “wellies.” They turned out to be much needed in one of Sarasota’s famous lightning and thunderstorms. But as one young visitor said, “Rain doesn’t bother gardeners.” And in many ways, an overcast sky flatters plant material.
When weather attacks …
Stormy weather couldn’t stop Black Tie (and 200-plus other guests) from enjoying the Florida Winefest & Auction’s Grand Tasting Brunch and Auction on Saturday. It was stormy, windy and got a little chilly that afternoon, but the food and wine kept flowing. The wind and rain tore through the sides of tents, forcing some vendors to pack up and leave, and forcing others to move in toward the center of the tent. The largest gust of wind and rain came in from the south side of the tent, blowing in Social Eatery + Bar’s table. Black Tie saw the whole thing happen, and we just had to talk to the girls manning the booth, because they were on top of it all and laughing the entire time. When we asked them what was going through their heads as the wind blew everything in, they said, quite simply, “Keep our dresses down and the food on the table!”
A sensible answer … Overheard at a recent gala, Joe Volpe explaining to a fellow guest, “When people ask me why I’m working with the Sarasota Ballet when I have declined so many other opportunities, I tell them ‘Because I’m here.’” … Hats off … to those brave enough to go bare-headed to Pique Nique, including Nora Patterson, Debra Clark Maradaiga, Gloria Good, Julia Leach, and Marian Moss… New hat and shoes for an old dress … that’s the story of attorney Deborah Blue at Pique Nique: a vintage dress from Rosie’s sandwiched between a custom-made hat by Kris Grooms and perfectly matched pink Manolos … Is marriage expensive? … One Sarasota grandma who has a long-term, live-in relationship reports that her 8-year-old grandson asked his mom about their marital status, and on learning they were not married, inquired, “Can’t they afford it?”