Love and music – the perfect pair

Betsy PickleOur Town Arts

This Valentine’s Day, how about a little mayhem and suicide for your viewing and listening pleasure?

Don’t worry, it’s just Knoxville Opera’s performance of “Romeo and Juliet.” And Charles Gounod’s classic opera is in French, the language of love, so you know it’s romantic.

Yulan Piao

Mackenzie Whitney

You know the story: Romeo Montague (Mackenzie Whitney) and Juliet Capulet (Yulan Piao) are from rival clans, and they make the mistake of falling in love – or lust – you know, hormones. (Seriously, does anyone really fall in love at first sight?) Their friends and family are not amused.

Beautiful lyrics (in French, remember – but with surtitles) and music flow, and miscommunication arises, taking you back to the mayhem and suicide. And you can get popcorn and drinks at the concession stand.

You and your main squeeze can enjoy young lovers Romeo and Juliet emoting at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14, at the Tennessee Theatre. Or, if you have an early curfew, you can wait till Sunday, Feb. 16, when it will be performed at 2:30 p.m.

Both of the leads are making their Knoxville Opera debuts. She was the first-place winner at both the Vienna Summer Music Festival and Verismo Opera competitions. He has recently sung leading roles with the opera companies of San Diego, Madison, Pensacola and Annapolis.

Also making his Knoxville Opera debut is baritone Bryan James Myer as Mercutio. He is a veteran of opera companies from Hawaii to New York City. Former Metropolitan Opera bass Andrew Wentzel, professor of voice at the University of Tennessee, plays Friar Laurence.

There will also be dramatic readings from William Shakespeare’s original play in English by Clarence Brown Theatre artists, including director Calvin MacLean.

The production is staged by director Laura Alley, and Maestro Brian Salesky will conduct the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra.

Adult tickets, starting at $25, are available at or by calling the box office at 865-524-0795, ext. 1, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Student tickets start at $15 and may be purchased by calling the box office.

AA5 is all about the love

Sam Adams and Stina Nesbit

If opera isn’t your thing, Alive After Five at the Knoxville Museum of Art is having a Valentine Special with music by Stina Nesbit and the Sam Adams Band. The good times roll from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, with doors opening and ticket sales beginning at 4:45 p.m.

Bandleader/pianist/guitarist Adams and vocalist Nesbit met eight years ago at school in Minnesota and soon turned their musical partnership into a romantic one. Since moving to Knoxville, they have been performing together and with other groups in venues around East Tennessee.

For their Valentine Special, they will be joined by other talented Knoxville friends to get you up and dancing with “a romantic and funky mix of soul, R&B and jazz,” according to promo materials.

Food will be available from F.A.T.S. BBQ.

Betsy Pickle is a veteran entertainment, features and news reporter.



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