Sarasota/Bradenton for Theater Arts & Sports

Sarasota/ Bradenton

The Sarasota Opera House at 61 N. Pineapple St./ 941-328.1300 is
perhaps FL’s leading showcase for opera. It’s also the region’s oldest.
Recently restored it closed its Winter/Spring season with 4 major programs. These included Bizet’s
and Verdi’s A KING FOR A DAY. A Verdi cycle is under way here which is expected to run to 2017. It will be the only full run of Giuseppe Verdi’s entire opera library in the U.S. Note, 2013 also celebrates Verdi’s 200th birthday. Bravo Maestro Verdi!

The theater is a landmark with comfortable velour seating up to 1100 and with a pleasant garden annex. On the 23rd of this month I had the pleasure of seeing Puccini’s
TURANDOT with splashing costumes, solid stagging, and with an all-star cast. Victor DeRienzi was the Artistic Director for this performance directing an ensemble of some 50 musicians.
It was a spectacle to watch.


Sarasota/ Bradenton is also known for sports. Winter Ball is played here under the banner of the Grapefruit League. It is in fact the epicenter for baseball from January-thru-March. The recently restored JOE SMITH Stadium at 2700 12th St./ 877-222.2802 is an architectural gem. Home of the Baltimore Orioles baseball franchise sine 1974. the park is a neat, modern version of its home field, Campbell Yards in Baltimore, MD. It’s done up in sun orange and tan with excellent sight lines throughout. In 2012 more than 100,000 fans visited the park. Ticket prices per game start at only $16 here. Note, the Orioles finished the season near the top of their league. My day at the park on March 21 was picture bright and sunny. A perfect day for a ball game, though the Orioles lost this one to the Philadelphia Phillies, 11-4.

Less than one-hour away is McKECHNIE FIELD located at 1611 9th Bradenton/ 941-748.4610.
This 90 year old park has also been recently restored to its former glory. Sheeted in forest greenl it’s the closest in the league to Fenway Park in Boston. Its got legs! It’s also a fun place to watch the game where palm trees circular the backdrops on every corner of the park and where a designer-lit Tiki Bar located in the right-center field pavilion is in front of your nose. The colorful all-metal structure on two levels is the Winter home of the Pittsburg Pirates.It seats 8,500 with a 19,000 square’ boardwalk. There’s lots of old world feel here. On the day I visited, Sunday, March 22, the Pirates lost to the Orioles, making up for their loss on the previous day. But watch out for the Pirates’ slugger, Andrew McCutchen, their star center-fielder. In 2012 he batted .327, second only to Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants who batted .336. McCutchen, however, led the National League with 194 base hits.

Your choice of ball parks depends on you. Both have a lot to offer and with good baseball to boot in the Winter season. Opening day for MLB is Monday, April 1. See you at the ball park!

Michael Zufolo, reporting

The Sarasota Opera House is a joy to behold. Its season runs January thru March. Tickets start at $19. Rush tickets $10. It’s a best kept secret.

About The Author

Michael Zufolo, Producer/Co-Host of Let's Travel! Radio

Michael has been an active player in Media Relations and Marketing for the past 30 years with stints at The New York Times, Forbes, WOR Radio, TV Channel 11, Attenzione Magazine,, and with participation in the Caribbean Tourism Org.,/ CTO, the Pacific Travel Assn./ PATA, the Foreign Press Assn./ FPA, and the International Society of Travel Writers/ ISTR. Libra/ America, his latest signature, provides travel opportunities to VIP travelers and groups world-wide. Let’s Travel! Radio is an extension of his experiences.

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