February presents two potential dilemmas:
1. The winter blues are in full force.
2. What should I/we do for Valentine’s Day?
Knoxville Opera has a great solution for both, with two performances of Bizet’s Carmenon Friday, February 13 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, February 15 at 2:30 p.m. at the city’s hallmark Tennessee Theatre. For the singleton, this is a wonderful alternative to staying in for a date with Ben & Jerry on cupid weekend. For couples, it solves the annual pressure of creating the perfect, romantic date. And for everyone, it offers cozy, passion-fired entertainment that will stave off the wintery blues.
Maestro Brian Salesky hosts a special opera preview session 45 minutes prior to each performance to unpack the plot and set the stage for an enjoyable experience. The preview is open to the public.
Carmen, famous for its Spanish-inspired, fiery plot, features familiar melodies like “La Habanera.” Set in Seville, Spain, Carmen opens in a town square with a peasant girl’s innocent inquiry as to the whereabouts of her beau, Jose. It is not long before Carmen, a captivating gypsy, steals the spotlight. Through a series of events, Carmen employs her flirtatious skills to disrupt the lives of those around her. She is an empowered woman who refuses to be tamed, with an inward fear of settling down. Carmen’s manipulative beauty and misuse of it draw only superficial, temporary attention; yet her inability to open her heart becomes a wakeup call for those she has hurt. The opera’s final scene is one of redemptive irony.
The lovely Audrey Babcock plays the role of Carmen, accompanied by an all-star cast. A synopsis of Carmen, along with the cast bios, can be viewed here. Ticket prices begin at $18 and can be purchased here or by visiting KnoxvilleOpera.com. Call 865-524-0795 x28 for more information.
Your Valentine’s Day weekend will be one to remember, as you chase winter’s blues away and heat things up with Carmen!
Knoxville Opera’s H.M.S.Pinafore will feature highly acclaimed vocalists Steven Condy, Donata Cucinotta, and Sean Anderson.
Condy is known for his performances across the nation with many notable companies such as San Francisco Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Dallas Opera, Boston Opera and more.
Cucinotta has graced the stages of many opera festivals and performed with companies including Opera New Jersey and New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players. She has also been honored as a Metropolitan Opera National Council Regional Finalist. Knoxville fell in love with her voice when she appeared with Knoxville Opera as Adele in Die Fledermaus where she was hailed for her “bright and lively comedy” (Knoxville MetroPulse). In fact, the publication went on praise Cucinotta with the headline, “Knoxville’s Most Memorable Classical Music Performance of 2012: A marvelous Donata Cucinotta revealed the flexibility of her character of Adele by doing onstage cartwheels and a split.”
Anderson has performed with New York City Opera, Baz Luhrman’s Bohème on Broadway and was most recently in Knoxville as the narcissistic Sgt. Belcore, demonstrating “…tremendous comic swagger” (Knoxville MetroPulse).
Performances will be held on Friday, November 21 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, November 23 at 2:30 p.m. at the city’s hallmark Tennessee Theatre. Maestro Brian Salesky will host a special opera preview session 45 minutes prior to each performance. A full plot summary, along with cast bios, can be read here. Ticket prices begin at $18 and can be purchased here or by visiting KnoxvilleOpera.com. To speak with a Knoxville Opera representative for more information, call 865-524-0795 x28.
Gilbert & Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore will set sail on Friday, November 21 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, November 23 at 2:30 p.m. at Knoxville’s hallmark Tennessee Theatre. Maestro Brian Salesky will host a special opera preview session 45 minutes prior to each performance. The musical comedy is perfect for a family outing or special date.
The classic comedy contains familiar melodies (“I’m Called Little Buttercup”, “The Monarch of the Sea”, “When I Was a Lad”, and “I am the Captain of the Pinafore.”) and clever wordplay that pokes fun at politics and authoritative figures, in a delightfully provocative way. People of all ages will be entertained by the music, characters, elaborate stage setting, and costumes.
H.M.S. Pinafore was Gilbert and Sullivan’s first blockbuster hit. The comic operetta opened in London in 1898 and ran for 571 performances. The plot plays out aboard a naval ship and centers on the conflicts of love between people from different social classes. Taking jabs at the British class system, party politics, the Royal Navy, and the ironic rise of unqualified people into authority, even the title injects humor by using the name of the female pinafore garment in reference to the masculine naval warship.
The musical structure and style of H.M.S.Pinafore have been echoed by many composers and contributed significantly to music history and the development of modern musical theatre. A full plot summary and cast bios can be read here.
Ticket prices begin at $18 and can be purchased here or by visiting KnoxvilleOpera.com. To speak with a Knoxville Opera representative, call 865-524-0795 x28.
Fluffy, frivolous and fun, this classic is the very definition of what operetta should be.
Knoxville Opera’s production of Strauss’s intoxicating operetta stars Russian soprano, Julia Lima. Die Fledermaus, or The Bat, is a classic operetta. Which raises the perennial question: How does operetta differ from opera? Some would say the difference is that in operetta, you stand on the furniture, which is guaranteed to occur in this production. Operetta could also be described as something like a halfway house between opera and musical theater. Unlike most opera, Fledermaus has spoken dialogue. This ads a general lightness to the theatrical approach. The Strauss operetta is a tuneful high-society comedy which premiered in 1874. The bat of the title is a reference to a costume once worn to a party by Eisenstein, one of many turns in the hilarious storyline.
Fledermaus is known for its effervescent music, not its dramatic logic but rest assured that you’ll have a great time laughing in between the catchy tunes and zany plot. This operetta is fun, the cast and crew are fun.
Donata Cucinotta and Sean Anderson
They work long hours in rehearsals and cut up a bit in their off-time and have even more fun. Just check our Facebook “behind-the-scenes” photos for a peek of this motley crew of professionals enjoying their craft. You’ll see masks, funny faces and a few more masks. In fact, we encourage the audience to wear their favorite mask to the performances to feel more in tune with the storyline. There are still some good seats for this weekend’s performances and if you call our box office today through Wednesday and say “MASK”, I’ll give you 15% off of sections P, A, B. You can also click here 24/7 http://ow.ly/egdFO. Don’t wait, do it now. We’ll see you at the Opera!
Renew Your Subscription!
We’ve had an overwhelming amount of requests for an extension from subscribers who are either traveling or finalizing their travel schedules for this season. If you’re a subscriber from last season, and haven’t yet renewed your subscription, we’ve extended the deadline through this Friday (13th). Why should you renew your season tickets?
Best Seats: Access to claim your best seats long before anyone else. Subscribers receive first-choice seating and save 10% off individual performance prices. Renewals: Subscribers can renew their same seats for the following year and are the first in line to move to better seats. Flexibility: ONLY subscribers can exchange their tickets to different performances if the need arises. Lost tickets are never a problem. Replacements can be provided in advance or at the door. Privileges: Share your email address and we’ll make sure you are the first to learn of our special events and the latest news including a subscription to Bravo!, your insider’s guide to the world of Knoxville Opera and Knoxville Opera Guild, synopses, biographies, articles, news and more. Service: Knoxville Opera has some of the best employees around who know that YOU are our first priority!
An amazing transformation is taking place at Knoxville Opera and YOU are a part of that transformation. As the 2012/13 season begins, it gives me great pleasure to thank you for your past support and welcome you to a new year of extraordinary music and theater on our stage. With your support, the performing arts are alive with Knoxville Opera!
Join us in celebrating our 35th anniversary. We want you to take part of this exciting season of unparalleled artistic excellence. The partnership between community and opera is just as important as the one between maestro and musicians. Be a part of the moment. Help us fulfill the promise of great music that lies ahead by renewing and/or upgrading your subscription and enhancing your support with a tax-deductible gift for our current and future education programs. Bring the power of music to young people, while ensuring our future. The result is magical music making that gets better and better.
Did you know we produced an arts education initiative this season with a robust program known as The Shakespeare Project? This innovative program was performed for free this past January in 14 Knox County middle schools for over 12,500 students and faculty as a 45 minute version of Romeo and Juliette (in English) for 4th – 8th grade students. The program was so successful that Knoxville Opera will produce a similar series called The Cinderella Project for 2nd – 8th grade students next season. We are deeply committed to cultivating young people’s relationship with the performing arts, enriching their lives and enhancing their education. Your contribution will ensure the continuation and expansion of this commitment and our goal to reach thousands of people with the magnificent power and excitement of opera.
I look forward to welcoming you back and we’ll see you at the opera!
P.S. If you are a contributor, your membership expired on 6-30-12. Please renew soon so that you won’t miss out on any of the benefits of membership as the new season unfolds. If you have any questions regarding membership or subscriptions, please contact Joey DiMenno at 865-524-0795 x25 jdimenno@KnoxvilleOpera.com or Michael Torano x28 mtorano@KnoxvilleOpera.com.
Saturday, April 28th 11:00am – 9:00pm Downtown Knoxville
The Rossini Festival is one of the region’s largest and most beloved special event. It serves as a celebration of the performing arts.
“The performing arts are much too diverse to promote as one culture. The Italian flair we’ve enjoyed for the first 10 years is being enhanced by German, Hispanic, Asian, French and American foods and beverages as we expand the event”, says Knoxville Opera Marketing and Public Relations Director Michael Torano. “We welcome Cellular Sales as a new sponsor for this 11th Annual Rossini Festival. They will be exhibiting at Market Street and Union Avenue.”
For 10 years, the Rossini Festival was primarily modeled as an Italian Street Fair. The Knoxville Opera Rossini Festival International Street Fair introduces the color and excitement of opera to attendees, many of who are experiencing opera for the first time. This is the only Rossini Festival in the U.S. and one of only two in the world, the other of which takes place in Rossini’s birthplace of Pesaro, Italy. Knoxville’s event is a celebration of the performing, visual and culinary arts with an emphasis on opera and International culture featuring a full day of live entertainment with over 800 entertainers, and a multitude of artisans showcasing superior traditions of the Southeast’s finest craftsmanship and a family-friendly KidsZone of engaging activities on Market Square.
“We have a surprise for Knoxville this year. Through a strategic partnership, Chez Liberty and Constellation Brands present The Wine Experience at Knoxville Opera’s Rossini Festival and International Street Fair. All along Gay Street, attendees will enjoy offerings from Knoxville’s most extensive wine list at Chez Liberty”, continues Torano. “In the Chez Liberty/Constellation Brands Wine Experience tent in the Krutch Park Extension across from the main stage, patrons will be able to choose from an extensive array of timed wine tastings throughout the day including appearances by Michael Leidel of Riedel Stemware, Napa Cabs, Oregon Pinot Noirs, Bloody Marys, Varietals, French Champagnes, Bracket rums and gins among others.”
For details go to RossiniFestival.org or call 865.524.0795 x28.
By Michael Torano, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
Where are the arts in our schools?
“When I was a student, I remember music, dance, drawing, singing classes”. I hear this quite consistently in my discussions with patrons, corporate sponsors, and fellow parents. As a father of two boys, ages 15 and 8, I have to say, I share this sentiment. There just doesn’t seem to be much these days in the classrooms regarding artistic education much less, the performing arts. I’m sure this has much to do with changes in curriculum and budgets and what schools boards deem “necessary” or “frivolous” in educating our youth. I don’t pretend to be an expert in this field but it doesn’t take an expert to notice that the arts are a virtual ghost in public schools. Where will tomorrow’s adults gain exposure to the beauty of dance, the majesty of music in orchestra or the magnificence of the human voice? Will we leave this entirely to top 40 radio or Dancing With The Stars?
We’ve always strived to fill this void in public schools through our education and outreach programs. Many don’t realize that Knoxville Opera is much more than fully-staged opera productions at the Tennessee Theatre. Each year, we produce and perform well over 100 community and education outreach events primarily for K-12 students in public schools. These are concerts, Opera 101 interactive engagements and even staged performances such as this season’s Shakespeare Project in cooperation with Dr. Jim McIntryre, Superintendent of Knox County Schools.
Today, we kick off our performances of Romeo & Juliette in the first of 14 Knox County middle schools. This series will focus on public middle schools and has been a collaborative effort between Knoxville Opera and Knox County Schools. This entire series of staged, costumed performances is a gift for the students of Knox County and specifically designed to fit into auditoriums and gymnasiums. Lead by Maestro Brian Salesky who’s no stranger to the education scene, KO delights in presenting an abbreviated version of Gounod’s opera Romeo & Juliette in English for 4th-8th grade students….completely free of charge. The whole series is presented at zero cost to Knox County Schools, the parents, kids, teachers, PTA’s or the schools themselves. Knoxville Opera has successfully solicited private, foundation and corporate support of this endeavor to deliver opera performances directly to the students on their turf. 33 elementary schools are sending 4th-5th grade students to these middle school performances with bus transportation provided by Knoxville Opera, also free of charge.
Click to view a sample of The Shakespeare Project!
In addition to our many continuing programs we are particularly excited about our season-long Shakespeare Project.
Huge endeavor? Yes it is, but we feel it is an incredibly important aspect of education and we strive to continue to deliver this to our students. In all, there will be over 12,500 students attending these performances January 10th – the 19th. Tenor Stefan Barner and soprano Anna Eschbach, recent graduates of the University of Tennessee Opera Theatre program, will be singing Romeo and Juliette. Bringing this presentation into the schools is a key element of our season-long Shakespeare Project cornerstoned by our productions of Romeo & Juliette (February 10, 12) and Verdi’s Otello(April 27, 29) at the Tennessee Theatre. Knoxville Opera would like to humbly thank Walter Mencer, Instrumental Music Specialist of Knox County Schools, for working tirelessly for over six months to facilitate these in-school performances. We’re in his debt for bringing this unique opportunity to our students. Special thanks also to the Tennessee Arts Commission, Knox County, City of Knoxville, Arts & Heritage Fund, Pilot Flying J, Regal Entertainment Group, Comcast, Robert H. and Monica M. Cole Foundation, First Tennessee Foundation, Swann Endowment Fund, Rotary Club of Knoxville and National Endowment for the Arts for supporting this production.
For further information about the in-school performances or our other education/outreach initiatives or to support these goals, visit KnoxvilleOpera Education or contact Michael Torano at 865-524-0795 x28 or mtorano@KnoxvilleOpera.com.
by Mary Davis, President Elect Knoxville Opera Guild
Le Masque Ball, the major fundraiser of the Knoxville Opera Guild, was held on November 12 at Cherokee Country Club. As the name of the ball infers, many of the guests were decked out in unique and festive masks. Jeannine and Doug McKamey judged the mask contest. Dorothy Stair, wearing a stunning mask and costume, won the award for “Most Glorious.” “Most Creative Male” was Ed Green; “Most Creative Woman” was Townes Lavidge Osborn. Peter Acly won “Most Handsome Man.” David Torbett won the award for “Most Colorful.”
Committee co-chairs Jan Bechtel and Nancy Van Hook gathered over 100 items for the silent auction from local merchants and individual donors. Susan Ridgell organized the live auction, which included 12 travel items and a media package. Phyllis Driver chaired the committee that recruited benefactors, sponsors and patrons. Gaye Whittaker put together the publicity. Audrey Duncan and Mary Lynn Majors designed the decorations, which included pink lighting, paper lanterns and whimsical flower table centerpieces sporting masks. Angelyn Campbell spent countless hours recruiting table hosts and Susana Esrequis designed the clever and stunning graphics for the printed materials. Trish Maffeo and her committee selected a superb dinner, of which the highlights were Caesar salad and a duo of sliced beef tenderloin and barramundi. The meal was topped off with an awe inspiring chocolate ganache. Theresa Stone is to be especially congratulated for her Herculean work of taking reservations, arranging the table seating and financial management, both before and after the Ball.
Among those present were Dan McGehee, President of Knoxville Opera; Phyllis Driver, President of the Knoxville Opera Guild; and Mary Davis, Chairman of Le Masque. Maestro Brian Salesky and wife Diana hosted a “ladies only” table seating Courtney Manrod, Felicia Hoehne, Jeanie Melton, Evelyn Jack, Leslie Parent, Carolyn Turner and Stephanie Levy. Cathy and Mark Hill hosted a table that included daughter Laura Davis and husband Shelton from Atlanta, as well as Robert Hill and Emily Kueny, Ellen Robinson and Peter Acly, Pat and Alan Rutenberg and Roman Botcharnikov. Theresa Stone hosted a table that included five former presidents of the Knoxville Symphony League in addition to herself — Rosemary Gilliam, Willene Chalmers, Jackie Newman, Joanne Mounger and Rose Moseley. During and after dinner the guests danced to the lively music from Patton James and the Synchromatics. Caesar Stair and the guests at his table particularly tripped the light fantastic until the Ball finally ended around midnight.
For more information about Knoxville Opera Guild or upcoming events including Monday Night Opera dinner concert, Opening Night Dinners, the KOG Martini Party and KOG Croquet Tournament, please visit: http://knoxvilleoperaguild.org/
by Brian Salesky, Executive Director and Conductor
Zulimar López-Hernández as Juliette
Noah Stewart as Romeo
Knoxville Opera will be celebrating and performing music and drama inspired by the world’s most famous star-crossed lovers throughout January and February and you are invited to luxuriate in the romance! The highlight of this celebration is our Valentine’s weekend production of Gounod’s lush French grand opera Romeo & Juliette at the Tennessee Theatre. On February 10th and 12th rising stars Zulimar López-Hernández and Noah Stewart will both excite and break your heart at the ball, on the balcony, in the bedroom and on the bier. Metropolitan Opera bass Andrew Wentzel, in the role of Friar Laurence, will officiate their onstage wedding. Tickets are selling fast, so I encourage you to purchase yours as soon as possible!
Here are additional opportunities for you and our entire community to revel in the glorious music inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet:
January 10 – 19 14 performances of an abbreviated English version of Gounod’s Romeo & Juliette opera for 12,500 students in grades 4-8 at Knox County middle schools.
January 16 6:00Knoxville Opera Guild’s Monday Night Opera dinner concert at Echo Bistro & Wine Bar on Kingston Pike featuring the artists of our school production in scenes from the opera and West Side Story.
January 19 7:30 Heavenly Opera concert at Church of the Ascension on Northshore Drive featuring the principal stars of our Romeo & Juliette production in selections from Romeo & Juliette, Otello, West Side Story, Tosca, Manon, Cavalleria Rusticana, Susannah, Beatrice di Tenda, Le Cid, The Siege of Corinth, Moses in Egypt and Maria Stuarda!
January 21 4:30 African-American Voices: Noah Stewart in Song and Conversation at the UT Black Cultural Center, 1800 Melrose Avenue (free parking).
January 22 3:00Oak Ridge Community Concert at the Oak Ridge High School Performing Arts Center featuring the principal stars of our Romeo & Juliette production and the Oak Ridge Chorus in selections from Romeo & Juliette, West Side Story, Carmen, Tosca, The Marriage of Figaro, Cavalleria Rusticana, Le Cid and The Siege of Corinth!
February 8 6:30Romeo & Juliette Student Dress Rehearsal at the Tennessee Theatre. The final rehearsal of the opera is open to all students free of charge thanks to the generosity of Comcast.
February 11 5:30 Dark Lady Night on the stage of the Tennessee Theatre. A unique, romantic Valentine dinner concert on the set of Romeo & Juliette featuring music from Romeo & Juliette, Otello, Falstaff, West Side Story and Kiss Me Kate.
February 12 2:30Romeo & Juliette performance at the Tennessee Theatre. A limited number of free student tickets are available to public high school students upon request from Knox County public high school teachers.
For more information and tickets to these events please call (865) 524-0795 ext. 1.
Obsession….lust….jealousy….rage….grief. These words conjure the foundation of most every opera as well as the plot of most episodes of The Real Housewives of…
La Traviata, Verdi’s poignant story of an exquisite, glamorous courtesan who abandons the man of her dreams out of her love for him. He comes from a notable family and her background threatens to destroy his reputation. The story is set in Paris in the 1840’s but could easily be placed in New York, Dallas or any metropolitan area today. It’s a crowd pleaser because it not only has gorgeous music but the universal themes most everyone can relate to. Opera is the art form capable of captivating audiences with the magnificence of what the voice can do. Human passion is the underlying theme and ultimately, the greatest attraction.
Come for the music….stay for the passion. Verdi’s genius stimulates drama in the music he wrote. This is arguably one of the top 5 operas of all time along with La Boheme and Madame Butterfly and the first time Knoxville Opera has produced it in 14 years. Here’s a bit of trivia…La Traviata is the opera Richard Gere took Julia Roberts to see in Pretty Woman. The scene where he snaps the necklace case shut on her fingers was improvised by Gere and her now-famous laugh was totally genuine. The filmmakers liked it so much they decided to keep it in. The ruby necklace really did cost $250,000. While filming, a security man from the jewelry store equipped with a gun was constantly standing behind the director. The three tableaux used during the opera scene are when Violetta meets Alfredo at a party, Violetta abandons Alfredo at his father’s request and the final scene where Violetta dies (did I just spoil the ending?). In the final scene, Edward “serenades” Vivian with a recording of an aria from La Traviata. The aria has a vocal solo followed by the theme on strings and trumpet. That arrangement was not from the original opera but adapted for the film.
Our production of La Traviata welcomes veteran stage director, Keturah Stickann who directed Knoxville Opera’s production of Manon last season. She has also either directed or choreographed with Houston Grand Opera, Dallas Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Atlanta Opera and New York City Opera among others. We’re very pleased to also welcome back Metropolitan Opera soprano Joyce El-Khoury to portray the legendary Violetta and exciting tenor Zach Borichevsky as the heartbroken Alfredo. For a synopsis and more information on our production, visit http://ow.ly/6ucw3. Tickets are available for Friday night and Sunday matinee performances on October 28th and 30th. La Traviata is one of the three world-class productions in Knoxville Opera’s Season of Star-Crossed Lovers and part of the 2011-2012 season subscription including Gounod’s Romeo & Juliette and Verdi’s Otello. This promises to be an incredible season and we look forward to welcoming you back to the wonderful world of opera.