Rarely performed ‘Tiefland’ takes the stage at the Sarasota Opera


SARASOTA- A rare and obscure opera is hitting the stage at the Sarasota Opera House for what will be only the third American production in the last century. Tiefland is a hidden gem of a show that producers say you won’t want to miss.

Tiefland may not have name recognition, but one of the stars Ben Gulley says it will draw audiences in.

“You’ll hear the music’s so,” Gulley said. “It gets you right in the chest it’s amazing.”

Gulley says the German opera has everything you could want in a show fights, love, and dancing.

“A young girl who meets a man who overpowers her emotionally,” Victor DeRenzi said. “And expects her to be his mistress, while he takes care of her and her father.”

The woman is then pawned off to a shepherd from the mountains, played by Gulley.

“He’s not around a lot of people, so he doesn’t have the best social grace, but he’s a very faithful man.”

A man excited for new opportunities in love and work.

“I say two prayers every night,” Gulley said. “A prayer for the parents I never knew, and the second for the wife that one day I’ll get, so when Sebastiano comes to me and tells me I’m going to get a new job and a wife, of course I take the opportunity to go down to the city.”

Doing rarely performed operas like Tiefland, makes Sarasota a destination for opera lovers.

“I realized no matter how well we did an opera like Boehme, or Manon Lascaux or Carmen, people were not going to come to see those because they could see them in their hometown,” DeRenzi said.

It also provides an interesting challenge for the performers.

“You get the privilege of doing something that’s not done a lot,” Gulley said. “So you can really make it your own, vs. a show like La Boehme there is a hundred different interpretations that you can choose from, so this one you really get to piece together your own storytelling, and that’s been the pride of this fir all of us.”

For those seeing this show for the first time, Gulley says look for the character development.

“Pay attention to the innocence and how that changes,” Gulley said. “The top of the show I’m wide eyed and smiling up in my mountains, and by the end of the show, I’ve earned what will be my forever happiness.”

Tiefland premiers this Saturday and runs through March 25th.

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Samantha Sonner
Multimedia Journalist Samantha Sonner comes to the Suncoast from Las Cruces, New Mexico, where she worked as a reporter and host for KRWG TV/FM reporting on local politics, immigration, and border issues. Samantha grew up on Long Island, New York. She received her Bachelor of Science in Broadcast and Digital Journalism from Syracuse University. At Syracuse, she worked at WAER, the campus NPR station and interned at television stations in Central New York. Samantha is excited for the Florida Sunshine, and to be living so close to fantastic beaches. Feel free to follow her on Facebook and Twitter for story updates and news, or to send her story tips and ideas. You can also email her at samantha.sonner@snntv.com.