Music festival in full swing

Published 12:53 am Monday, May 5, 2008

NATCHEZ — Hearing vocal melodies and circular saws at the same time may seem unusual but not during the beginning of May’s month-long Festival of Music in Natchez, now celebrating its 18th season.

While internationally acclaimed guest artists practice and professional crews construct sets, many more talented performers are fanning out in the region bringing opera, Broadway and jazz music to schools, service organizations and churches.

This upcoming week includes six musical events. Kicking off the week and on every Monday in May, “Music on Mondays” provides a preview of the coming weekly performances and an opportunity to win a pair of tickets to each upcoming Saturday’s evening performance.

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Enjoy an hour of wine, cheese and song at 5:30 p.m. in the Eola Hotel lobby, for only $10.

On Tuesday, acclaimed pianist/accompanist, vocal coach, arranger and performer, William Lewis, will perform and sing at Dunleith Historic Inn.

Lewis has worked with performers as diverse as Patti LaBelle and opera stars at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Evening on Broadway featuring “Phantom of the Opera” and other musical highlights will be featured Thursday, starring Nat Chandler and Christine Marie Heath.

This luxurious engagement performed at The Towers, a private antebellum home, returns Chandler, a 5-year star as the “Phantom” on Broadway, to Natchez. Heath has performed with numerous operatic theatre companies and has a passion for cabaret style concerts.

Night of Stars is the occasion on Friday, to enjoy many of the most outstanding artists who perform during the first half of the festival month, all in one evening.

While also starring in major roles in other features, these performers choose their own favorites for Night of Stars.

If you enjoy Broadway musical variety and vocal excellence, Night of Stars is not to be missed.

Plan ahead now to experience tragedy and comedy — the very essence of the theater — in two very different one-act operas on Saturday. “Bluebeard’s Castle” by Bartk is based on a fairy tale about a young, nave wife discovering and opening ominous doors in her husband’s castle.

“The Telephone” by Menotti addresses the challenges of communicating with someone you love while competing with the interruptions of telecommunications.

What an evening of fantastic music and emotional ups and downs.

Sunday afternoon, May 11, a Plantation Performance in Magnolia Hall will recreate the intimate musical experience of earlier times.

Elizabeth Kennedy and John Dalton Frederick will perform.

For the entire month of May, more than 27 public musical events are presented in main stage productions, plantation performances, special recitals, and concerts to provide an unsurpassed combination of opera, musical theater, and jazz.

For detailed information and tickets for these and upcoming performances of “OKLAHOMA!,” Mozart’s opera “Così fan Tutte,” and hot sweet jazz performers, The Pfister Sisters, go to or call 601-445-6103, 1-800-647-6724 toll free.