Blount audiences preview ‘Pagliacci’ opera

Even if they don’t speak Italian, Blount County audiences who go to this weekend’s opera “Pagliacci” will have a better understanding of the story of the famous clown thanks to an Opera Preview presentation at the Blount County Public Library.

Brian Salesky, general director and conductor of the Knoxville Opera Company presented songs from “Pagliacci” to an appreciative audience at the library recently. He also gave a “Clift Notes” version of the opera’s storyline to enhance the audience’s understanding.

“Pagliacci” will be performed at the Tennessee Theatre Saturday and Sunday, April 25-26, as part of the Rossini Festival. The opera, sung in Italian with subtitles, is the opera that brought tenor Ernico Caruso to stardom with his performance as the clown in the opera. The phrase “Ridi, Pagliaccio” (Laugh, clown) is one of the best known operatic excerpts.

With Salesky at the library was Rachel Anne Moore of the University of Tennessee Opera Theatre who performed the numbers as Salesky played the keyboard.

The Rossini Festival winds along the streets of downtown Knoxville with a Children’s FunZone, food and craft vendors, artisans, wine tastings, beer sales and performances by jugglers, comedians, magicians and musicians. In addition to “Pagliacci,” which will be at 6 p.m. on Saturday and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Tennessee Theatre, the UT Opera Theatre will perform “Don Giovanni” at the Bijou Theatre Friday through Sunday, April 24-26.

For tickets to “Pagliacci” call 865-524-0795, ext. 1; for tickets to “Don Giovanni” the Bijou theater, call 865-656-4444.

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