We’ve been pondering for at least the last year about establishing a blog presence for our small, regional opera company. Why it’s taken this long to finally post our debut is beyond comprehension but here we go.

I’m often asked about why I think someone should come to an opera. Why I chose to work for an opera company and what it’s like in the non-profit world. I certainly have no experience, background or knowledge base in opera and you’ll never hear me discuss opera history, its composers, stars or storyline from a point of view of someone who actually knows what they’re talking about. What you’ll hear from me is what it feels like. Even this, I can’t accurately describe as I’m not a trained writer. Hell, I’m not really a trained anything but what I do know is how my first opera affected me.

I’m amazed by how this company pulls a production together with such a small staff (there’s five of us when we’re fully up) and even smaller budgets. My first opera experience occurred

from both the audience and backstage perspectives. In February 2010, we produced Lucia di Lammermoor with newly minted star coloratura soprano, Rachele Gilmore. Rachele had just made her Metropolitan Opera debut roughly 7 weeks before our opening night at the historic Tennessee Theatre.

Rachele Gilmore in Knoxville Opera's production of Lucia di Lammermoor

Like so many others, I viewed her performance on YouTube and was amazed. She was coming here to Knoxville to sing her first Lucia and I would be working with her. I took pleasure in marketing the production with Rachele and her fellow principal cast members Dinyar Vania and Nelson Martinez. So I enjoyed my first opera from a behind-the-scenes perspective and can fully appreciate all of the work, efforts and grueling hours the cast, directors and crew put into staging an opera production. Now for the best part.

No matter how many times I heard the music and vocal talents of the cast in rehearsal, nothing could have prepared me for what I actually witnessed from the 16th row of the beautiful Tennessee Theatre. The lights, staging, costumes, music and of course the voice, blended into an incredibly overwhelming experience for the audience. I know I wasn’t the only one moved by this opera and the talent of such a fine group of artists. I overheard many in the theater and in the lobby afterward describe their feelings having just experienced opera for the first time. Mostly surprise and occasionally even shock at how much they enjoyed the opera. What did it feel like? An emotional high and pure appreciation of the story is the only way I’m able to describe it. The beauty of sound and of sight synthesizes perfectly to immerse you in the story. There is simply nothing like the experience of live opera. If you haven’t been, you can’t comprehend it much like you can’t fully grasp how it feels to become a parent. You just have to experience it. It’s a feast for the senses.

Check back often for guest posts from within the Knoxville Opera community including board members, staff, directors, artists, volunteers and others. Here, we’ll discuss cast members, production notes, marketing initiatives, education and outreach programs, our widely popular Rossini Festival Italian Street Fair, volunteers and whatever comes to mind in this exciting world of a classical art form.

Nos vemos,
Michael T

  1. February 6, 2011

    Madame Butterfly at the Tennessee Theatre was my first, and I was blown away. The Knoxville Opera puts on a first-class show – staging, props, costumes, the score. It’s a true artform that Knoxville needs to embrace!

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