In-school Opera Productions

For each of the past seven years, Knoxville Opera has presented an abbreviated opera production in English for students.  These productions include scenery/costumes/props and last approximately 45 minutes (including about 10 minutes of Q&A with the students).

2012 Gounod’s Romeo & Juliette
2013 Rossini’s Cinderella
2014 Donizetti’s Elixir of Love
2015 Bizet’s Carmen
2016 Humperdinck’s Hansel & Gretel
2017 Puccini’s La Bohème
2018 Puccini’s Turandot
2019 Donizetti’s Lucia of Lammermoor

This season’s in-school production is an abbreviated 35-minute version of Donizetti’s Lucia of Lammermoor in English. In most venues, the performance space will be darkened as much as possible and the performers lit by spotlights, which we provide.  The performance, with piano accompaniment, will feature three of the story’s main characters and a Pianist/Host who will speak to the audience before, during, and after the show.  At your option, the performance may be followed immediately by a 10-15 minute Question & Answer session during which the performers engage directly with the audience. If your school has the space, we encourage that students’ families be invited to attend. To schedule a performance, please complete and submit this reservation form.

Lucia of Lammermoor
Education/Outreach Production

Music by Gaetano Donizetti.  Original libretto by Salvatore Cammarano.
Based on The Bride of Lammermoor by Sir Walter Scott (1819).
First performance: September 26, 1835, Teatro San Carlo, Naples, Italy


The action takes place on the Ravenswood estate in the Lammermoor Hills of Scotland at the end of the 17th century.  Enrico Ashton, now in possession of the estate of his family’s sworn enemy, Edgardo of Ravenswood, finds his own family’s future in political danger.

Scene 1: On the castle grounds. Lucia has been anxiously awaiting a rendezvous with Edgardo, the man with whom she is in love.  When Edgardo arrives he tells her he must go on a political mission to France, but before he leaves he wants to tell her brother Enrico of their love and end the family feud.  Lucia convinces Edgardo to keep their love a secret.  They pledge their faith in one another and Lucia gives Edgardo a ring as a token of trust.

Scene 2: Enrico’s room in the castle. Despite the arrival at the castle of her unwanted fiancé, Lucia has still not agreed to the marriage because of her love for Edgardo.  Her brother Enrico tries to change her mind by lying to her about Edgardo’s lack of faithfulness. When that has no impact, he explains that their family’s imminent political ruin can only be saved by her marriage to Arturo. Lucia adamantly refuses to cooperate.

Scene 3: A hall in the castle. The marriage of Lucia to Arturo is interrupted by the entrance of Edgardo who accuses Lucia of being unfaithful.  Lucia admits she has signed the marriage contract under duress and begs for forgiveness.  Cursing Lucia, Edgardo throws at her the ring she had given him and departs.

Scene 4: On the castle grounds. Enrico finds Edgardo, confronts him, and challenges him to a duel to end their feud once and for all.

Scene 5: A hall in the castle. Although the wedding couple have retired for the night, Enrico and the guests are still celebrating. Lucia appears, disheveled, in her nightgown. She has gone mad under the strain of the forced marriage and has taken her husband’s life (offstage).  She gives a macabre description of her imagined wedding to Edgardo.  Praying to die with him, Lucia collapses.  

The Composer and the Opera

Gaetano Donizetti was one of the most prolific Italian composers of the 19th century having composed more than 70 operas in addition to choral, orchestral, and chamber music.  His eternal popularity in ensured by a few dramatic masterpieces led by Lucia di Lammermoor and two comedies, The Elixir of Love and Don Pasquale.

Donizetti was born in Bergamo, Italy in 1797.  Although he did not come from a family of musicians, he showed early promise as a composer while studying at the Music Conservatory of Bologna where he wrote his first opera at age 19.  While he resided mostly in Naples and Paris, his career took him to all the major opera houses in Europe. After a long illness, the composer died in 1848 in the city of his birth and is buried in a magnificent tomb in its Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.

At the time of the 1835 premiere of Lucia di Lammermoor (pronounced loo-CHEE-ah) Donizetti had already firmly established his international fame.  The libretto (story), based on Sir Walter Scott’s 1819 historical novel The Bride of Lammermoor, concerns the emotionally fragile Lucy Ashton who is caught in a feud between her own family and the Ravenswood clan, whose castle the Ashton family now occupies. The setting is the Lammermuir Hills of Scotland in the 17th century.  The opera is one of the jewels of the Bel Canto composition period in 19th century Italy.  “Bel Canto” translates as “beautiful singing.”  The genre features long, slow melodies (for solos and ensembles) usually followed by an exciting, rhythmical, faster section called a cabaletta or stretta.  Lucia’s most famous pieces include such scenes for all the principal characters, in addition to duets, and an outstanding sextet.  The highlight of the Gothic masterpiece is Lucia’s long “Mad Scene” during which the soprano is challenged to appear insane, imagine a wedding to her true love, sing very difficult embellished music, and ultimately collapse.

Since its premiere, the opera has been performed all over the world in many languages.  The Knoxville Opera’s February 2019 production is the 4th in the company’s history.

Words to Learn for the Enjoyment of Opera

a song sung by one singer

the middle male voice category (such as Enrico in Lucia)

an Italian word which is shouted by the audience while applauding for a performance they enjoy

performers who sing together as a group

a person who writes music

a song sung by two singers

the language of Italy (Lucia was originally composed in Italian)

the words of an opera

a teacher; the person who conducts the orchestra and singers in an opera

an Italian word meaning a musical play, staged with scenery, costumes, props, and theatrical lighting, usually performed by solo singers, chorus, and orchestra

objects carried or used on stage by the performers

the highest female voice category (such as Lucia in Lucia)

the highest male voice category (such as Edgardo in Lucia)

a building which usually has an auditorium with a stage, an orchestra pit, and dressing rooms where operas are performed (such as Knoxville’s Tennessee Theatre)

Words to Learn for the Understanding of the Lyrics of Lucia

This section will be posted later in 2018.

Opera Etiquette

Behaving well when attending a live theatrical performance is important because it affects the enjoyment of the other audience members and the ability of the performers to deliver a good show. 


Sit quietly and still

Turn off all phones and electrical devices

Applaud when a piece of music is over (shouting “Bravo” is also permitted if you think the performers did an especially good job)

Be prepared to ask questions of the performers when the performance is over


Talk or whisper to those around you

Open wrappers or fidget with anything that makes noise or disturbs those around you

Eat or drink during the performance unless required to for health reasons

Get up during the performance unless there is an emergency

Post-Performance Activities


1) Objective: Give students an opportunity to connect with the performers and express their reactions to their experience.

Activity: Write letters to the performers telling them what they enjoyed and didn’t enjoy about the story, the music, the performers, the scenery, and the costumes. 

Send letters to: Knoxville Opera, 612 East Depot Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37917

2) Objective: Give students an opportunity to demonstrate understanding of plot and use of imagination through writing, art and/or dramatic play by verbally, physically, and visually re-interpreting the ending of Lucia.

Drama – Storytelling
Making a scene:
Pick a scene out of the story (see synopsis)
Choose one student to portray each character.
Reread/paraphrase the scene as a narrator.
Encourage the students to act out their part of the scene as it comes along.

Art and/or Writing:
Option 1: What could have been done differently?
Ask them: 
What different choices could Lucia have made when she was forced to marry a man she did not love?
How would the story have ended differently?
How many and which people would that have affected?

Option 2: Ask what happens after the end of the story in the opera and how would they continue it?
Ask them to:
Tell their ending, and/or
Write down their ending, and/or
Make a picture for it


Objective: Give students an opportunity to experience a complete opera production.

Activity: Encourage or arrange a trip to the Tennessee Theatre for students to see the complete opera (see details on page 1 of this document).  Details will also be on the take-away card given to students at the in-school performances.