Stars always come out during May

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 5, 2000

Weather forecasters tell us that our skies tonight will likely be cloudy. And although normally clouds obscure the stars above, tonight — and in fact for the next month — the stars will shine brightly over Natchez.

But we aren’t talking stars of the celestial nature, we’re talking vocal stars.

Yes, as the calendar rolls over to May, it can only mean one thing — opera.

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Tonight the Natchez Opera Festival begins with a Night of Stars beginning at 8 p.m.

Saturday the fun continues with a performance of the &uot;Barber of Seville,&uot; and Sunday the festival will hold a plantation recital.

And this is just the first of four weeks of the festival.

Sometimes we find it difficult to imagine that the festival has been up and running for 10 years. Just yesterday, it seems, Dr. David Blackburn was evangelizing his dream of bringing an opera festival to Natchez.

Some folks called him crazy. Some folks said, &uot;It will never last.&uot;

But now, a decade later, the festival is still with us and it has grown in magnitude and quality each year. Beyond the regular nightly performances, the opera festival offers several other wonderful things to our community. From free opera previews and public concerts in the park to an educational program that gives thousands of area youngsters a glimpse at an important form of art and entertainment, the opera has given many things back to this community.

Another, often overlooked, aspect of the festival is the amount of money it generates in our community.

Tourism officials say the Natchez Opera Festival has brought in millions of tourism dollars in its history.

And, we hope, the festival will continue to bring our community a cultural and economic boost for decades to come.