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Your weekend arts forecast: Opera returns to the Palladium

Bill DeYoung



Mark Sforzini conducts "The Return of Grand Opera" Friday through Sunday. Photo: St. Petersburg Opera Company.

For the first time since January, 2020, St. Petersburg Opera Company will be onstage at the Palladium Theater this weekend. The program is called The Return of Grand Opera, and it’s essentially an expanded, indoor adaptation of the organization’s “pop-up” series that began in the fall.

Just 200 seats are available for each of the performances, Friday (8 p.m.) and Sunday (2 p.m.)

It’s not as grand as, say, the fully-staged and orchestrated production of Rigoletto they put up that fateful January (every show sold out, by the way), but by the standards set by those outdoor, Covid-clear “poperas,” it’s pretty grand indeed.

Artistic director Mark Sforzini will conduct a 13-piece orchestra, with 10 bay-area singers performing Samuel Barber’s complex (and slightly odd) “A Hand of Bridge” with strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion and piano. Also on the program: Highlights from operas by Puccini, Bizet, Mozart, Lehár and others.

In addition, SPO’s popular “Three Tenors” – Chris Romeo, Eric Ferring and John Kaneklides – will do that thing they do.

The Return of Grand Opera is also presented Saturday at 4 p.m. at Cage Brewing.

All details are here.

The other stuff

At freeFall Theater, this is the penultimate weekend to enjoy the drive-in musical Leonard Bernstein’s New York. And it’s in the wind that a major announcement will be coming from freeFall soon … Jobsite’s Henry V ends with Sunday’s matinee, at the Jaeb Theater in the David A. Straz Center.

Former Florida Orchestra resident conductor Thomas Wilkins is back, baton in hand, to take the musicians through Antonin Dvořák’s “New World” Symphony (No. 9) Saturday at the Mahaffey Theater. The concert, presented for a socially distanced audience at 2 and 8 p.m., also includes the Hiawatha Ballet Suite by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Tickets here.

The 16th annual Sunscreen Film Festival is happening through Sunday at the AMC Sundial theaters. Read more here. Also unspooling this weekend is the Sarasota Film Festival. This one begins Friday and lasts daily through May 9; it’s a combo of live and virtual screenings (there’s some good stuff at this event as well). All info is right here.

The James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art is celebrating its third anniversary, and there’s a gift in it for us: $10 admission for adults, seniors, military, teachers and students, and $5 admission for youth (7-18) through Sunday. Admission for children 6 and under is always free.

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