Sunday, April 20, 2008

Busy Weekend

I went to the first Sundown of the year. One of probably only two that I'll actually attend. The crowds are unbearable unless you really want to see the band. So many people show up just for the social event, and don't really pay attention to the music. This was especially apparent if you walked through the park at the south end of Market Square. It looked like the entire emo population of Knoxville was setting up a shanty town. It's the biggest concentration of losers I've seen in a long, long time. I really wish I'd snapped a picture of it.

Market Square, before it got crowded.

This guy was trying to make money by
looking like an idiot and standing very still.

The band playing was Galactic, who I like a lot. They have a "jam band" vibe, which wears a bit thin, but it's funky. The best part was that they had an MC performing with them. Boots Reilly is part of the hip-hop group, The Coup. I hadn't heard of them before, but he was great. Very high energy, great stage presence. And the song are very good, too. I've checked out some of The Coup/s stuff since Thursday and it's really good. Very political, socially conscious hip-hop, but great party music at the same time.

I went with a friend to see the Knoxville Opera Company's production of Puccini's Tosca. I'm kinda late to the whole opera thing, but it's grown on me very quickly over the past several years. Puccini is by far my favorite right now. I wasn't familiar with the music or story of Tosca before going to see it. The production was fantastic, overall.

The soprano playing Tosca was amazing. The lead tenor, Mario, had a good voice but it was a bit on the weak side. When they sang together he nearly got drowned out.
The show was stolen, however, by the villain, Scarpia. The guy who played him was phenomenal. And he knew it, too. He completely owned the stage, even during the curtain call. One of the best villains I've ever seen in a show.

The thing I like about Puccini is how simple all his stories are, but how masterfully he handles each moment. Tosca has the best use of a chorus I've ever heard in an opera. The only minor complaint I have is that the final act is a bit weak compared to the first two. It's not bad at all, but the first two blew me away. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that Scarpia is only in the first two acts. You really miss him in the third.

Saturday was the Rossini Festival. Hooray! Unfortunately I forgot to take my camera with me so I didn't get any good pictures.

I got there a bit late because I had to work that morning, but I'm just glad the weather cleared up enough for the festival to go on. It was pouring rain Saturday morning, and I was worried the festival would be ruined. But it was mostly clear throughout the day, with occasional light (but cold) sprinkling.

I was happy to find out that the Pellissippi Variations choir was performing. I still have a lot of friends in the group, and it was great to see them perform. Especially since I missed their spring concert on Thursday to attend Sun Down. It was a good show, but the sound system was terrible. The guy running the board never really got a good mix, and there were several instances when we were assaulted by loud feedback.

Immediately after this, the Knoxville Chamber Chorale performed. This is a smaller group consisting of members of the Knoxville Choral Society. Both this choir and the Pellissippi choir are conducted by Bill Brewer.

By the time they were finished the sun was going down and it was starting to get cold, so it was time to leave. I'm glad I got a chance to enjoy myself before the week of hell I'm about to have at work!

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