The 40th Anniversary Season

Pop the champagne! It’s time to celebrate our 40th Anniversary Season – and in grand style!

A significant anniversary deserves fireworks and we have them in abundance, starting with a special Gala Concert on October 27th featuring dazzling performances by Rochelle Bard, Catherine Daniel, and Scott Bearden, all of whom triumphed in our 2017 production of Mary Queen of Scots. The exciting program includes popular selections from Don Giovanni, Mary Queen of Scots, The Merry Widow, Norma, The Pearl Fishers, and Wagner’s The Valkyrie, along with thrilling music from rarely performed operas Adriana Lecouvreur, Esclarmonde, La Fille du Tambour-Major, La Gioconda, La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein, Semiramide, and Il Tabarro! Amid the musical festivities at the Bijou Theatre (KO’s inaugural venue), eight new members will be inducted into Knoxville Opera’s Hall of Fame.

I can think of no grander operas than Turandot and Aida to celebrate our “ruby anniversary,” so we are presenting both — taking these huge productions with their large casts, choruses, and orchestras to the Knoxville Civic Auditorium.  We’ll be back at the Tennessee Theatre the following season.

 Turandot, Puccini’s most adventurous and ravishing score, will be brought to life by two of our generation’s greatest interpreters of the opera: Othalie Graham as the icy Chinese princess, and Jonathan Burton (who brought us to tears in our 2016 Tosca) as Prince Calaf. The work’s fiendishly difficult arias and massive choruses are highlighted by “Nessun dorma,” which tenor Luciano Pavarotti elevated to iconic status.   Students of all ages are invited to take photos with the cast on stage following the performances.

Verdi’s Aida has been thrilling audiences since its 1871 premiere in Cairo. In the shadows of the Pharaohs’ pyramids, a bitter war between empires dooms the love affair between Aida, an enslaved Ethiopian princess, and Radamès, a powerful Egyptian warrior. Absent from Knoxville for 18 years, this epic opera returns with its majestic Triumphal Scene as a spectacular showcase for a stunning international cast. Making their Knoxville Opera debuts will be Michelle Johnson as Aida, Dongwon Shin as Radamès, and Elena Bocharova as Amneris.  Scott Bearden, who gave us such a memorable Scarpia in Tosca, will return as Amonasro.

In addition to our three major productions, we have more than 80 other events planned including the 17th Annual Rossini Festival, Knoxville Opera Goes to Church, community concerts, Opera 101s, the African-American Voices Series, and an in-school production of Turandot.

On behalf of our artists, crew, staff, Knoxville Opera Guild, and the Board of Directors, please permit me to express my sincere appreciation for your loyal patronage.  I look forward to celebrating with you throughout this thrilling 40th Anniversary Season!

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