Although there is no data to show a connection, downtown Knoxville's revitalization has coincided with the 13 years of Knoxville Opera's Rossini Festival. While one could argue that building restoration has nothing to do with opera performances and a street fair, the crowds drawn in increasing numbers to the streets of downtown during the early years of the festival reacquainted a lot of people to the charming streets and buildings, and awakened a lot of interest in the potential for downtown to be something once again. And it is that reawakening of Knoxville spirits that has made all the difference. Those 13 years have seen miraculous changes.
The 2014 Rossini Festival and International Street Fair is centered around the Knoxville Opera production of Vincenzo Bellini's bel canto masterpiece, Norma. Starring Rochelle Bard in the title role, the opera is set during the time of the Roman occupation of Gaul.
The beauty of Bellini's work is its combination of gorgeous melody, vocal acrobatics, and intense drama. And it takes on both the classic love triangle and a timeless character premise--one who gives up one's ideals for love only to be betrayed. The character of Norma requires vocal power and agile coloratura technique.
Filling out the love triangle in the Knoxville Opera production are Ta'u Pupu'a as Pollione and J'nai Bridges as Adalgisa.
Performances are Friday, April 11, 8 p.m., and Sunday, April 13, 2:30 p.m. in the Tennessee Theatre. Phone for tickets at 865.524.0795 or visit KnoxvilleOpera.com.
The International Street Fair is on Saturday, April 12 on Gay Street and surrounding streets in downtown Knoxville from 11 am to 9 pm. It's free to attend -- and with five entertainment stages featuring the gamut of music from roots to jazz to classical, you won't have to spend a dime. But, but... there are plenty of food, drink, and artist wares to tempt your pocketbook. Plan accordingly.