Florida's Performing Arts

By: Ryan Nance

Art, theatre, symphonies, opera...Florida's vibrant performing arts scene can be found everywhere - small towns to downtowns.

Is opera your thing? Are you a fan of the ballet? Does an evening at the symphony make your week? Can the theater capture your imagination? If you didn't already know, Florida's vibrant performing arts scene extends to every corner of the Sunshine State. So many local and regional performing arts groups exist in Florida that it would be impossible to discuss them all. Everywhere you turn, each city and town seems to have its community theater, its orchestra performances, its holiday specials. Florida, in fact, seems to be brimming over with these magical arts. So, let's look at a handful of the state's most notable companies, orchestras and troops.

Opera! Opera!

Whichever part of the state you find yourself in, you can find a professional opera company to indulge your fancy. From the Pensacola Opera Company and the Florida State Opera in the northwest, to the Sarasota Opera on South Florida's West Coast, to the Florida Grand Opera and Palm Beach Opera on the East, if you've got a hankering for arias, you can satisfy it. From three to five productions a year, these companies present varied programs, from Mozart through Verdi and Wagner to Sondheim.

Plié, Please.

When you have a yen for lighter-than-air dance, when you yearn for the beauty of form-made-fluid, a night at the ballet, and nothing else, will satisfy. You could dance your way down the state, from the Tallahassee Ballet through the Gainesville Ballet Theatre and the Orlando Ballet, across to the Sarasota Ballet of Florida before leaping and pirouetting down to the Miami City Ballet. These top-notch professional companies stage contemporary and classical dance performances throughout the year. The Nutcracker Suite can be seen in nearly ever part of the state when the holidays roll around.

Baton. Score. Symphony.

When the conductor and the scores of individual master musicians play together just that certain way, there is nothing as moving as a symphony performance. And with all the orchestras in Florida, there is a statewide symphony of classical music. The acclaimed Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra plays first chair in the state's northeast section, while the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra and the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra anchor the northwest. The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and the Imperial Symphony Orchestra play from the center of the state. Chairing the West Coast section is the long-established Sarasota Orchestra, and the East Coast section includes The Brevard Symphony Orchestra, the Space Coast Pops and the Miami Symphony Orchestra.

Act 1. Scene 1.

The Theater (that's Theatre, with a capital "T") thrives in Florida's rich cultural climate. Exciting community theaters flourish in big cities and small towns alike. From popular favorites to new local works, these theater companies of enthusiasts put on stage a huge variety of plays. Professional theaters, producing shows for every taste, have enriched the state's cultural scene. From the Riverside Theatre and the New Theatre to the Asolo Repertory Theatre and the Florida Studio Theatre on the West, you're never far from fantastic footlighters. From Shakespeare to Shaw to Pulitzer-prize winner Nilo Cruz, the best of the world of theater is on stage in Florida.

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