Back in May, just a couple of weeks after Knoxville Opera's rain-soaked Rossini Festival and Italian Street Fair, the city announced its plan to move the massively popular fest from Gay Street to Henley Street next year. It was surprising news—for nearly a decade, the Rossini Fest has been among the most popular events in Knoxville, drawing tens of thousands of people downtown for a full day of junk food, wine and beer, and music. (Besides, closing a state highway for 24 hours seems more logistically complicated than shutting down Gay and a few side streets.)
Knoxville Opera never officially commented on the announced move; officials there were reticent with good reason, it appears. Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero and KO executive director Brian Salesky jointly announced Wednesday morning that the Rossini Fest will stay on Gay, at least for 2014.
"The Rossini Festival has brought hundreds of thousands of people downtown for more than a dozen years now," Rogero said in a press release. "We are pleased we were able to work together so that it will remain a legacy event on a premier downtown street."
The 2014 Rossini Fest, in fact, will take up even more room downtown, extending from Summit Hill Drive to Cumberland Avenue and occupying Market Square, Market Street between Wall Avenue and Cumberland, and Wall, Union, Clinch, and Church avenues between Gay and Walnut Street.
The 2014 Rossini Fest will be held on Saturday, April 12, in conjunction with KO's production of Vincenzo Bellini's 1831 opera Norma.