Knoxville Opera – What’s Opera, Knox? (Plus Free Tickets!)

Aida, Knoxville Opera, Civic Auditorium, Knoxville, May 2018
Aida, Knoxville Opera, Civic Auditorium, Knoxville, May 2018

By Beth Evans, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Knoxville Opera*

Perhaps you saw “What’s Opera, Doc?” when you were a child.  Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd took opera and turned it into what was voted by cartoonists to be the number one cartoon ever made.  Did Bugs and friends make fun of opera?  No!  They celebrated it in a very unique way.  And that is what watching opera is all about, celebrating the ultimate form of musical theater that evokes emotion in a way unlike anything else to grace the stage.

Knoxville Opera is currently in its 41st season.  We are very fortunate that Knoxville has a dedication to this magnificent art form.  Many cities and regions our size have to drive hours to see the quality of performances being offered each season by Knoxville Opera.

Unless you grew up attending opera, you may have questions about what it’s like to attend one.  Let’s tackle those questions and break down any barriers you may have about attending an opera performance.

What is the dress code for the opera?

  • That is an easy one. There isn’t one!  Do you want to kick back and enjoy some great musical theater in your jeans and boots?  Come and have a wonderful time!  Would you really love a night out on the town where you could dress up in a ball gown or tuxedo? Buy that ticket and enjoy the magic of opera!  Opera is for everyone and we want you to have the experience YOU want to have at the theater.  If you need inspiration, visit and see some of our Pinterest Pins on what opera goers might wear.
Knoxville Opera, Mary Queen of Scots, Knoxville, April 2017

Will I be able to understand what is going on since the opera is often in another language?

  • Absolutely! We project the words in English on a screen above the stage.  There is also a synopsis of the opera in each playbill so you can familiarize yourself with the story before it begins.  So, sit back, relax, and read the words and absorb the emotion of the actors and their soaring voices.  You will be drawn into the opera more than you can imagine by watching the story unfold and hearing the artists sing.

I like to go to movies and watch something that is relevant to today!  Will I even enjoy the “stuffy, old opera?”

  • Contrary to what you might think, opera isn’t stuffy and the stories aren’t old! Well, technically they were written long ago but the themes are as modern as today.  Many of today’s movies and musicals are based on the very same tales told in operas.  Sometimes movies even insert the very opera on which they borrowed their storylines!  Remember in Pretty Woman when Edward takes Vivian to the opera?  They see La Traviata by Puccini which has been called “the original Pretty Woman” due to the fact that the story is so similar. The hit Broadway musical Rent is a modern telling of La Boheme. Even the music you hear in movies, TV shows, video games, and commercials is frequently opera!  Don’t believe me?  Google Ride of the Valkyries by Richard Wagner.  Trust me, you have heard it everywhere.  So, you may know and like some opera music without even knowing it was opera.  Time to buy a ticket to a live performance at Knoxville Opera and find out what you have been missing!
Knoxville Opera, The Pirates of Pnezance, Tennessee Theatre, Knoxville, October 2016

Isn’t the opera expensive?

  • Not at all! Tickets to performances of Knoxville Opera start at just $23 for adults and $15 for children and students.  Additionally, the final dress rehearsal for each opera is free to all students and only $5 for accompanying adults!  This is a great way to introduce children to opera!

How long are operas? 

  • Operas typically last between two and three hours. There is an intermission of about 20 minutes roughly half way into the performance.  This gives everyone attending a chance to stretch their legs, use the restroom, or get a refreshment in the lobby.  It also allows for any set changes that need to be made and for the artists to rest their voices since they’re singing over an orchestra without a microphone.  It’s the ultimate acoustic concert!

Hopefully all of your questions about opera have been answered!  Did I miss one?  Email your question to me at and I will be glad to give you the answer!

Knoxville Opera, Carmen, Tennessee Theatre, February 2015

To begin enjoying opera, visit us online at for our full schedule of events.  In addition to three full-scale opera performances per year, we also have the Knoxville Opera Goes to Church performances, in-school Opera 101 sessions and African-American Voices Series performance, Monday Night Opera Dinners, the Rossini Festival International Street Fair, and many more opportunities to hear opera throughout the year.  To stay connected, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

See you at the opera, Knox!


*Beth Evans has served as the Director of Marketing & PR for the Knoxville Opera since October 2018. Although new to opera, she has over two decades of marketing and public relations experience she obtained while working at the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority and Midwest Communications.  Beth uses her background to communicate the mission of the Opera while bringing in new audiences who can grow to love this musical genre. A Blount County native, she graduated from the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management with a focus on Marketing. Beth has served in a variety of volunteer positions such as the Special Events Chair for the United Way of Blount County and the Vice President of Communications for the American Marketing Association.  She is humbled to have been named one of Knoxville’s 40 under 40 in 2011. Beth enjoys spending time with her husband and children, traveling, and is fascinated with anything true crime related which she attributes to being a part of the FBI Citizen’s Academy!

Ed. Notes:

  • Here’s a fun reason to go to the upcoming Knoxville Opera’s performance of Lucia di Lammermoor – Prior to the beginning of the performance of the love story both Friday night (February 22) and Sunday afternoon (February 24), married couples may have their vows renewed on the stage of the Tennessee Theatre in a ceremony led by Judge John R. Rosson, Jr. Participants must pre-register with Beth ( prior to the productions in order to receive the necessary information to be a part of the ceremony.
  • Want to attend the opera for free? Here’s your chance! Send an email to with the subject heading “What’s Opera, Knox?” and you’ll be registered to win a pair of tickets to next weekend’s performance. I’ll randomly select a winner and send notification and details via email. Entries end at 8:00 AM 2/13.
  • Tickets for the upcoming performance may be purchased here.