If you have any interest in opera, this is your week to get out and explore a bit. It starts with Il Trovatore at the Tennessee Theatre. Giuseppe Verdi’s adaptation of the play by Antonio Garcia Gutierrez was first performed in Rome in 1853. There’s enough tragedy in this play to satisfy even the darkest among us. One woman is burned at the stake while her daughter burns her own son to death by mistake, raising the child she kidnapped as her own. Many years later he is killed by his brother just after the woman they both loved commits suicide. Pathos anyone?
I attended the final dress rehearsal (the source of these photographs) and, just as with the last production by Knoxville Opera, was as taken by the visual production as by the stellar vocal performances. Brian Salesky did his usual magic as music director and conductor while Keturah Stickann insured a smooth and vibrant performance – even at the dress rehearsal.
There is simply no way to give enough credit to all the vocalists with outstanding performances, but Dana Beth Miller as Azucena and Jonathan Burton as Manrico were excellent. I want to hear more of the fine singing by Patrick Blackwell who played Ferrando. But I must say that, to my ears, Rochelle Bard as Leonora delivered an amazing vocal performance. I’ll leave a formal revue to someone who knows what they are talking about, specifically, my friend Alan Sherrod at Arts Knoxville.
The production will be presented at the Tennessee Theatre Friday night at 8:00 PM and again on Sunday at 2:00 PM. Tickets range from $18 to $95 and may be purchased here. This will be the final performance of this season, so catch them now or you’ll have to wait several months.
As if they don’t have enough going on, this weekend is, of course, the annual Rossini Festival sponsored by Knoxville Opera. The fourteenth rendition of the international street fair should attract somewhere between 70,000 and 100,000 visitors, depending on weather. It is free and features a wide range of fun for everyone. Stretching through 14 blocks and incorporating Krutch Park and Market Square, it has the largest footprint of any downtown event.
A wide range of food and crafts are available through the day and five stages will sport performances throughout the eleven hour festival. There will certainly be some opera to sample, including sample performances from Il Trovatore, but there will be a wide range of musicians and musical styles represented. You’ll find jazz, barbershop quartets, madrigal singers, Klezmer, gospel and choral music. One of my favorites each year is the Knoxville Men’s Gay Chorus who will perform at 4:15 on the Choral Stage.
The Market Square stage will highlight a wide-range of dance. I mentioned yesterday that K-Town swing will have swing demonstrations and a lesson there, but you’ll also find modern dance with Go! Contemporary Dance Works and Circle Modern Dance. You’ll also be able to enjoy more traditional ballet, belly dancing, Flamenco and Russian dance. A full schedule of the performances on all five stages is found here.
The event is absolutely free with the exception of food (of which there is massive quantities) and the beer and wine sampling available this year (beer in the parking lot next to the Bijou and wine in Krutch Park). It appears there may be a little rain, so bring an umbrella and enjoy this pretty crazy, happy day in the city. Oh, and if you see a member of Knoxville Opera, give them a hug (metaphorically – it might freak them out if you do it for real), because they are doing a good thing and are likely to be exhausted.
For many additional photographs from Il Trovatore go here.