'La Boheme' has local voices in opera performances

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By Suzy Smith
For Blount Today

It’s February, and romance is in the air. For three Blount County residents, this means they have the opportunity to perform in one of the most romantic operas ever written.

Carroll Freeman directs the Knoxville’s Opera’s production of Giacomo Puccini’s "La Boheme" with performances on Friday, Feb. 9 at 8 p.m. and on Sunday, Feb. 11 at 2:30 p.m. at the historic Tennessee Theatre.

Three from Blount County will be on stage for the romantic opera. Burt Rosevar, Carol Rothschild and Jerry Hurst are in the opera’s chorus.

"It is one of the great pieces in opera literature," says Rosevar.

Rosevar, a Rockford resident and music professor at Maryville College, has been with the Knoxville opera for approximately seven years.

"I enjoy it," he says. "It is part of what I do." Rosevar said he has been involved in music all throughout his life. In addition to singing with the Knoxville Opera, he is the music director of Concord Presbyterian Church.

Rosevar says that opera is a complicated art form that relies upon artists to bring it to life.

With a cast of seven, a 24-member chorus and children’s chorus, "La Boheme" is fast-paced, says Rothschild, a Louisville resident. "It features young opera singers with magnificent voices." She says the director is full of energy, and he gives that to the performance.

To prepare for the performance, Rothschild says the chorus has been practicing for six weeks. She says that when she is involved in an opera, she experiences a three-step learning process. First, she first learns the music when she rehearses with the chorus. Then, she re-learns it when the children’s chorus and lead singers become involved in rehearsal. Finally, the music takes on another dimension when the chorus practices with the orchestra.

"Opera is very challenging and never predictable," Rothschild says. Rothschild, who works as a sales instructor for a cellular phone company, said she has been singing since fourth grade.

Fellow chorus member and Blount County resident Jerry Hurst has also been involved in music most of his life. Hurst, who works in the medical profession, is classically trained and sang with the Philadelphia opera prior to moving back to the area.

"Once you break through the language barrier, you see it has a lot of the same messages of today," Hurst says of the opera.

To thoroughly enjoy the performance, Hurst suggests audience members become familiar with the storyline of "La Boheme."

La Boheme is set in 19th century Paris, and the opera revolves around bohemian artists who share friendship and love.

Soprano Edlyn de Oliveira is cast as Mimi, the female lead, and tenor Dinyar Vania sings the role of Rodolfo, the male lead.

A synopsis of the opera and cast biographies are available on Knoxville Opera’s web site, knoxvilleopera.com. Hurst also suggested for audience members to arrive early to read through the program.

"Then sit back and enjoy the beautiful music," Hurst says.

Ticket prices range from $88 to $13, and there are special discounted rates for students and children. For information or tickets, call 865-524-0795 or visit www.knoxvilleopera.com.

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