SARASOTA, FL – Sarasota Youth Opera has announced that it will present the U.S. Premiere of Canadian composer Dean Burry’s The Hobbit as its 2008 production. Performances will take place in the newly restored and renovated Sarasota Opera House on Friday, May 9 and Saturday, May 10, 2008.

Burry’s opera, adapted from J.R.R. Tolkien’s original novel, was commissioned by the Canadian Children’s Opera Chorus and had its premiere in Toronto in May 2004. This was followed by an East Coast tour to Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Mr. Burry has revised the work specifically for Sarasota Youth Opera. Lance Inouye, Sarasota Youth Opera Music Director, will conduct. Stage director for the production is Martha Collins, who most recently directed Verdi’s Attila for Sarasota Opera and in 2006 directed Aaron Copland’s The Second Hurricane for Sarasota Youth Opera. Jeffrey W. Dean will design the sets.

The work has been received with great acclaim. Wayne Gooding of Opera Now enthused, “composer and librettist Dean Burry has followed the Tolkien original closely, fashioning a picturesque piece with a strong narrative line driven by rhythmically vital and melodic music,” he wrote. “One of the recurring choruses, ‘Far Over the Misty Mountains’ surely promises to become a modern classic for children’s choirs.”

Composer Burry was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland, in 1972. In 1998, he was commissioned by the Canadian Opera Company to write The Brothers Grimm, a new opera for an annual school tour. Since 2001, it has been seen by more than 30,000 school children. Other major works include Under the Night, Rainbow Valley, and Home and Away. He also wrote the commissioned work, Isis and the Seven Scorpions.

About Sarasota Youth Opera

A vital part of the mission of Sarasota Opera, Sarasota Youth Opera provides a unique experience for young people in southwestern Florida. Established in 1984, it was one of the first programs of its kind in America. Members of the program participate in all aspects of opera production.

During the fall term, members form the Youth Opera Choruses, which perform throughout the community in formal concerts, as well as in hospitals, nursing homes and retirement centers. During the Winter Opera Festival many of them are selected to perform as the children’s chorus and as supernumeraries in the main stage operas. After the festival ends, the focus shifts to the fully staged Youth Opera production, featuring a work expressly written for young people to perform. In 2004 the Sarasota Opera commissioned the world premiere of The Languages of Birds and this season produces Aaron Copland’s The Second Hurricane, demonstrating Sarasota Opera’s commitment to the best available musical and theatrical experiences for the Youth Opera and its audiences.

Because of the renovation of the Sarasota Opera House there was no 2007 spring production. Instead the Sarasota Youth Opera will shortly be leaving to participate in an international choral festival in Tuscany, Italy.

The Sarasota Youth Opera Program is generously underwritten by the National Endowment for the Arts, Florida Arts Council, Woman’s Exchange, the Appleby Foundation, HRH, the Franklin G. Berlin Foundation, Designing Women Boutique, and Publix Super Markets Charities.