Missing from my last post was a comment that I had really intended to make concerning Knoxville Opera and their recent concert of gospel, Broadway, and opera–Knoxville Opera Goes To Church. (see the previous post in this blog)
With the performances of soprano Joyce El-Khoury and tenor Zach Borichevsky (who will be heard as Violetta and Alfredo in KO’s upcoming La Traviata), it has become quite obvious that Knoxville Opera General Director Brian Salesky is luxuriating in his role as the finder of young vocal talent on the cusp of big careers. This is El-Khoury’s second production for Knoxville Opera, having sung Nedda in Pagliacci several years ago. As I mentioned previously, she sang Frasquita in the Met’s Carmen last season and was heard in the Met/Juilliard joint production of The Bartered Bride. Borichevsky is appearing with a number of US companies (Nathanaël in Les Contes d’Hoffmann at Boston Lyric Opera), but is still at AVA in Philadelphia. Clearly, both are singers to eagerly watch.
It’s also worth mentioning Salesky’s biggest coup–casting soprano Rachele Gilmore for Lucia di Lammermoor just before she stunned a Met audience with a stand-in performance as Olympia in The Tales of Hoffmann in December 2009.
I must also mention two other impressive young singers who were on the KOGTC program: Knoxvillian Denisha Ballew and tenor Boris Van Druff. Ballew, of course, was my co-choice last year (along with Michael Rodgers) for Best Vocal Performance of the Year (METRO PULSE) for an appearance with the KSO in selections from Porgy and Bess. Van Druff is currently a grad student at the UT School of Music.