It’s been so cold recently that it hardly seems like it’s time yet, but the tenth annual Rossini Festival is just days away!!
Unless you have been living in a cave for the past 9 years, you know that the Knoxville Opera Company’s Rossini Festival is a celebration of Italian and opera culture taking place in downtown Knoxville. The street fair is a one-day event held on (closed-off, thankfully) Gay Street. The flagship productions of this year’s Festival are Bellini’s I Puritani featuring the Knoxville Opera Company and the KSO (Friday at 8:00 pm and Sunday at 2:30, Tennessee Theatre), and Britten’s Albert Herring, produced by UT Opera Theatre (Saturday 2:30 and 8; Sunday and Monday at 7:30, Bijou Theatre)
It looks as if the four different al fresco performing stages are geared each towards a certain discipline. The South Stage, on the Bijou Theatre block of Gay St., will mainly be home to choral performers, among them groups from Maryville College, Pellissippi State and Central High, as well as a couple of Barbershop outfits.
The Market Square Stage will be home to mainly dance events; through the course of the day, Swing Dancers, Middle Eastern dancers, Go! Contemporary and Circle Modern Dance, and the incomparable Austin-East African Dancers and Drummers (among others) will grace the stage.
The North Stage, roughly in front of Mast General Store, will feature mostly instrumental ensembles; jazz, klezmer, brass choirs and a Suzuki violin ensemble led by Kathy Hart-Reilly, the fearless leader of the Sinfonia contingent of the Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra.
The Opera Stage, about even with Krutch Park on the east side of Gay St., is where the most operatic of music will take place. Several vocalists who have shared the stage with the KSO and Knoxville Opera will be performing, including Karen Nickell, Joey DiMenno and the husband and wife team of Jami Rodgers and Kevin Anderson. Another husband and wife team, the Cricket and Snail, will delight and entertain. This unique duo is made up of KSO violinist Lucie (Novoveska) Carlson and Jim Carlson on accordion. You may remember that a work on the November Masterworks concert, Offtrail in the Smokies, was written by Jim.
Here is a link to the Knoxville Opera Rossini Festival with maps, schedules and other pertinent information.
Except for last year’s virtual washout, the Festival has traditionally been blessed with great weather. So far it looks like a good day is in the forecast, but you may want to keep an umbrella handy. In an effort to perhaps see if anyone is paying attention out there, I would like feedback as to what readers thought the best-SMELLING spot at the Festival was. Plus a big smile to anyone who gets the reference in the title of this blog. : )