Knoxville Opera

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The Knoxville Opera is an American opera company based in Knoxville, Tennessee. It was founded in 1978 as the Knoxville Civic Opera by Edward Zambara, who served as Artistic Director until 1981.[1] The company changed its name and became an entirely professional opera company in 1983.[2] Since 1981 the company has had three General Directors who also served as the Principal Conductor; Robert Lyall who served from 1982-1999, Francis Graffeo from 2000-2005, and Brian Salesky who has served in the position since 2005.

The 1978 inaugural performance of La Traviata included opera stars Delores Ziegler and Knoxville native Mary Costa, who garnered fame for creating the voice of Princess Aurora in the 1959 Disney film Sleeping Beauty. Among the many distinguished artists who have performed with the company, notable appearances include gala performances by Marilyn Horne, Cheryl Studer and Catherine Malfitano,[3] in addition to leading roles performed by Rosalind Elias, Mary Dunleavy, Margaret Lattimore, Enrico Di Giuseppe, and Faith Esham. Directors who have appeared regularly with the company include James Marvel, Jay Lesenger, David Gately and Carroll Freeman, the latter having directed more than twenty-five operas with the company beginning with The Marriage of Figaro in 1996. [4] Freeman also served as Artistic Director of the Knoxville Opera Studio at the University of Tennessee, a training program whose members often perform supporting roles with Knoxville Opera as part of their degree.[5]

The company performs at the historic Tennessee Theatre.[6] In 2011, the company celebrated the Tenth Anniversary of their Rossini Festival and Italian Street Fair in downtown Knoxville. In addition to food and crafts, the festival offers free open-air performances by members of the Knoxville Opera and UT Knoxville Opera Studio,[7] drawing as many as 35,000 people.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Marquard, Bryan (09 August 2007) "Edward Zambara, 81; taught singing to acclaimed performers"The Boston Globe
  2. ^ "Knoxville Opera History". Knoxville Opera. Retrieved March 17, 2012. 
  3. ^ Mason, Doug (31 August 2003) "Renowned soprano returns to Knoxville"Knoxville News-Sentinel
  4. ^ "Knoxville Opera History". Knoxville Opera. Retrieved March 17, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Knoxville Opera Studio at University of Tennessee". University of Tennessee. Retrieved March 18, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Tennessee Theatre Historical Timeline". Tennessee Theatre. Retrieved March 17, 2012. 
  7. ^ Lakin, Matt. (25 April 2010) "Despite wet weather, about 20,000 attend Rossini festival"Knoxville News-Sentinel
  8. ^ Shearer, John. (9 April 2011) "Rossini Festival draws a crowd to downtown Knoxville"Knoxville News-Sentinel

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