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Festival of Music schedule filled with opera superstars

Submitted photo — Opera superstars, Paul Groves, above, Luca Meachem and Maryann Kyle will join Emily Pulley and Robert Grayson for a the Natchez Festival of Music’s signature event, “A Bel Canto Gala “ at 7 p.m., May 11 at Trinity Episcopal Church.
Submitted photo — Opera superstars, Paul Groves, above, Luca Meachem and Maryann Kyle will join Emily Pulley and Robert Grayson for a the Natchez Festival of Music’s signature event, “A Bel Canto Gala “ at 7 p.m., May 11 at Trinity Episcopal Church.

NATCHEZ — Finding some of the world’s best opera singers sometimes requires hopping on a jet to New York, Paris, Milan or London, but not if you live in the Miss-Lou.

“We have them right here in our backyard,” said Mary Lessley, Natchez Festival of Music president.

The festival, Lessley said, aims to bring internationally known opera stars to Natchez each year.

This year the festival will be headlined by tenor Paul Groves, a Lake Charles, La., native who has become one of the most sought-after tenors on the stages of the world’s leading opera houses, Lessley said.

Lucas Meachem
Lucas Meachem

Groves will bring with him Lucas Meachem, Maryann Kyle, Emily Pulley and Robert Grayson for the festival’s signature event, “A Bel Canto Gala,” at Trinity Episcopal Church on May 11.

The performance will include music from Broadway musicals “West Side Story,” “Carousel” and “Les Misérables,” a performance Lessley said is generally available only in cities such as New York, London or Milan.

In addition to bringing opera superstars to Natchez, Lessley said the Natchez Festival of Music is attempting to establish itself as the festival for emerging stars.

“We want to be a festival that recognizes the young and up-and-coming artists, but at the same time mix in some major artists that have traveled all over the world, like Paul Groves will be for us this year,” Lessley said.

The festival runs until May 25, and Lessley said there is something for everyone.

“I think we have such a variety of types of music to enjoy that are very appealing to such a broad spectrum of people,” she said. “From Broadway musicals to our piano recitals … I just feel like it is probably one of our best varieties of quality of music to present to the public.”

The festival, Lessley said, tries to be the driving force of cultural activities that will attract people to Natchez.

But it also depends heavily on local support, she said.

Maryann Kyle
Maryann Kyle

“It is through our ticket sales that we’re still able to operate,” Lessley said. “So we definitely need all the local people in Natchez to come to every event they possibly can.”

Season tickets include the applause package for $180, the encore package for $280 and the ultimate package for $300.

The young adult patrons package for $160 includes two tickets for patrons 45 and younger to “A Bel Canto Gala,” the musical wine tasting and Alejandro Drago and the Tango.

Natchez Festival of Music tickets can be purchased online at natchezfestivalofmusic.com, by calling 601-445-2210 or at the Natchez Visitor Reception Center.

Schedule of events:

Opening night

Saturday, May 4

Rhapsody in Blue, A Tribute to George Gershwin, America’s Music Man at 7 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church. Tickets are $30. Pre-party at 5:30-6:30 p.m. at the Historic Natchez Foundation.

Sunday, May 5

American Frontiers with pianist Jonathan Levin at 4 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church. Tickets are $20.

Friday, May 10

Puttin’ on the Ritz, An Evening of Irving Berlin at 7 p.m. at the at the Van Court Town House. Tickets are $30.

Second Saturday Events, May 11

10 a.m.-4 p.m., Art on the Bluff

Vocalists downtown mid-day

4-6 p.m., refreshments in shops

7 p.m., “A Bel Canto Gala” with Paul Groves, Lucas Meachem, Emily Pulley, Maryann Kyle and Robert Grayson at Trinity Episcopal Church. Tickets are $100, and group rates are available.

The pre-party is 5:30-6:30 p.m. at the Merrill House, and a gala at Gloucester will follow the performance.

Sunday, May 12

Homage to Adelina Patti at 4 p.m. at Waverly Plantation. Tickets are $20.

Rossini, Puccini and Martinis at 7 p.m. in Eola Hotel lobby. No ticket required.

Thursday, May 16

The Black Swan of Natchez Elizabeth Taylor-Greenfield, an illustrated lecture by David Sansing at 7 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church. No ticket required.

Friday, May 17

The Black Swan Elizabeth Taylor-Greenfield Tribute at 5 and 7 p.m. at Cherokee. Tickets are $20.

Saturday, May 18

Cole Porter’s “Kiss Me, Kate” at 7 p.m. at the Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $30

Sunday, May 19

Briarvue Musical Wine Tasting at 4 p.m. Tickets are $40.

Rossini, Puccini and Martinis at 7 p.m. in Eola Hotel lobby. No ticket required.

Friday, May 24

Alejandro Drago and the Tango Rendezvous Ensemble at 7 p.m. at the Prentiss Club. Tickets are $30.

Saturday, May 25

“Rigoletto” at 7 p.m. at the Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $30 and $20 for the gala at Linden.