Rossini 2015 Hits both a High Note and a Dry Note

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Earlier in the week, the forecast looked bleak. I wanted to talk up the Rossini Festival, but even while doing so, the echos of Rossini Past resonated through my brain. We’d seen the movie before: Monsoon rains and howling winds all day long. Wednesday evening I expressed my concerns to Avi Tomczak, Development director of Knoxville Opera. She smiled and said, “I have faith.”

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Sandsation Dancers, Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

And she was right. Clouds kept the proceedings cool and comfortable all day. A few vendors didn’t show up for fear of the weather and the crowds might have been a bit reduced, but it was all a good thing. The crowds were good and steady throughout the day, but I never had the feeling I would suffocate in the midst of the throngs. There was no gridlock on Gay Street and everyone seemed to have a good time.

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

I started the day with a print-out of the music and dance I wanted to see and, while I was able to execute some portion of my plans, the reality is that the flow of the festival takes over and some surprises are stumbled upon, friends are encountered and plans change. Urban Woman and I had a blast running into old friends, neighbors and more than a few of you guys. I got to chat with Heather Whiteside, whose art I’ve liked for a long time. She’s now exclusively showing at James Freeman Interiors on the 100 block of Gay Street.

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

As is often the case, we didn’t make it out early. It’s one of the ironies and luxuries of living downtown. How could you be late for an event three blocks from your house? On the other hand, we don’t feel the pressure to arrive early, grab a parking spot and get the most for all our efforts because we don’t have to park and our effort is pretty minimal.

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Madrigal Singers from Webb School, Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

The first group we enjoyed was the Sandstation Dancers and Urban Woman decided on the spot she would become a belly dancer. Not holding my breath on that front, but it was fun. Best of all, they got large numbers of audience members dancing in front of the stage. They even belly-danced to “Rocky Top.” You want talent? There you go.

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

We took a stroll through the length of Gay Street to get an idea of everything offered and, of course got hungrier as we went. The smell of baking pizza, corn dogs, funnel cakes, Greek and Italian food permeates the festival and, as you can see, much of it is beautiful. In the end, we wanted to sit and fell back on our tried-and-true favorites: French Market for lunch and Sweet and Savory Truck for dinner. I’m not crazy about the ticket system for food, so that’s a draw back, to me, but it looked delicious. By evening it wasn’t an issue, but during the busiest part of the festival, it seems like a lot of work to read a menu to figure what you want, add up the tickets you need, stand in another line to buy the tickets and then return to the vendor to stand in their line. Maybe it’s just me.

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

K-Town Swing, Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Of course, there was plenty to enjoy besides the food. The sword fighting was fun the pottery, colorful clothing for sale, the funky vending trailer, a woman spinning wool, a beer garden and wine tasting in Krutch Park. I made it to the Krutch Park Stage for a little taste of opera, but I never made it to the stage near the Bijou, nor the jazz stage on Clinch – even though I’d intended to hit both.

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Gay Men’s Chorus, Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

We enjoyed the choral stage, particularly. It’s interesting: a chorus can do music that’s hard to be done any other way, with the blend of voices and the concentration on the vocal performance, yet, most of us rarely hear choral music unless it’s in church. We enjoyed the Madrigal Singers from Webb School and, particularly, the Knoxville Gay Men’s Chorus. I love listening to them. Your next chance to hear them will be June 6 at the Bijou in conjunction with Pridefest.

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

I also managed to see a lot of dance. In addition to the belly dancing, I happened by the stage for the K-Town Swing demonstration and lesson. They had a big throng on the stage giving it a whirl. I also enjoyed the Flamenco dancing. Particularly fun all day was watching the children dance or be fascinated with the dancing. I also made a point to see the modern dance portion of the event with Go! Contemporary Danceworks, Circle Modern Dance and Momentum Dance Lab.

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Go! Contemporary Danceworks, Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Go! Contemporary Danceworks, Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

We had a great day – which, as I’ve said before, is enhanced by the fact that we can come and go. We took breaks at home, walked into the Old City and 100 block and did some shopping to get away from the largest of the crowds and generally kept the pace slow. I’m not sure what the attendance was, but the most popular garages filled with the crowds from Rossini, Comic Con and the Orange and White game. I saw quite a few of the orange and white crowd before and after the game (they tell me UT won), but, sadly, I didn’t see any of the Comic Con crowd.

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Go! Contemporary Danceworks, Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

Momentum Dance Lab, Rossini Festival, Knoxville, April 2015

So the day ended just as well as it started. If you missed it this year or haven’t considered trying it before, I’d encourage you to come on down next year and join the fun. You’ll find more than twice this many photos on the Inside of Knoxville Facebook Page as soon as I’m able to get them there.

 

Comments

  1. Having the opera stage in Krutch Park Extension was a nice improvement over having it on Gay Street, where people walked in front of the stage.

    My strategy for food tickets this year was to buy a bunch of them, then sample food from different vendors until the tickets were used up. Worked fine.

  2. Sandy Larson/Sandsation says:

    Thank you Urban Guy for the coverage and photos. It was really a great day and festival. Enjoyed everything soooo much. We look forward to Urban Woman belly dancing with us:)

  3. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it out this year, since I have a new little one to look after. Jon took Ellison and they enjoyed it quite a lot. I just wanted to agree with you about the ticket system for getting food. It’s a huge hassle and I know it hurts the food vendors because so many people don’t want to stand in several lines to get food. I wish the festival operators would come up with a better system.

  4. Annette Winston says:

    Great report and wonderful visuals. Thanks from those of us who didn’t brave the crowds.

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