Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Springtime With Otello in Knoxville
It’s April so it must be Festival season! Dogwood Arts, Earthfest, Cinco de Mayo, Knoxville Brewfest, Kuumba Festival, Tulip Time at Crescent Bend, Rhythm and Blooms, Louie Bluie, International Biscuit Festival.... Knoxvillians don’t need much of an excuse to put on a good time. It’s almost like we have a “festival festival!”
While the Greek Festival is known as “Knoxville’s Delicious Weekend,” The Rossini Festival should take the name of “Knoxville’s Bellissimo Weekend.” A large tract of downtown is given over to entertainment, vendors, craftspeople and such. If you like people-watching, you can’t afford to miss this signature springtime event. While this spring’s weather has been topsy-turvy, we all have our fingers crossed that this weekend will be nice. And, unlike in Italy, you won’t be forced to take a nap from 1:00 to 3:30.
Verdi’s Otello will be the musical main dish of this year’s Rossini Festival. Late Verdi is very robust and savory; this score possesses a tonality and flow which abandon the traditional Italian formula and hand off the torch to Puccini by way of Wagner. Verdi, along with Mozart, Wagner and Britten, belongs on the “Mount Rushmore” of opera composers who really understood how to make the music drive the drama. I, a lowly pit musician, can’t hope to assimilate the full brunt of this work of art. I am jealous of those who are able to experience an opera production. The principals in this offering– Kassandra Dimopoulou as Desdemona and Michael Austin in the title role– are fabulous, and Verdi’s writing for the English horn alone is worth the price of admission.
This weekend– Friday April 27th at 8:00 and Sunday April 29th at 2:30 at the Tennessee Theatre.