Q&A: Dallas Norton, Lead Princess of the Knoxville Opera's Princess Parade and Tea Party

A University of Tennessee opera student, Dallas Norton will lead the Knoxville Opera's Princess Parade and Tea Party at the Rossini Festival, Sat., April 27 starting at 1:30 p.m.

What sort of princess things do you know?

A few things—walking around in high heels, wearing hoop skirts, riding horses. Manners and etiquette, of course—being polite.

What's the most challenging part of dressing like a princess?

The hoop skirt. This costume involves a big metal contraption that's tight around my waist and makes me an extra 3 feet around. So the most challenging part is to walk properly to keep it up on your hips—and getting through doors, sometimes you have to walk sideways.

Have you sung in big dresses as part of your studies?

I'm a first-year masters student in opera at UT, and I did sing in the chorus for Strauss' Die Fledermaus in September. We had full gowns but not the metal contraptions, but I did walk around on stairs and did a waltz, and didn't trip once over the dress.

Did you like pink when you were a little girl?

You know, I did. I went through a really girly stage, and then a tomboy stage. My dad always makes fun of me. He tells me I'd say I didn't want to wear jeans, I only wanted to wear pretty dresses. Maybe that was the beginning of me being a princess.

Do you have any wicked stepsisters?

No. I do have an older sister and a younger sister but we all get along pretty well. But just being a normal girl growing up and having to go through junior high—I think every girl can kind of relate to having that evil stepsister type or that mean girl in her life.

How far is the walk?

We are meeting in a tent behind Market Square on Wall Street, and we'll go to the Rossini Festival opera stage and into the Tennessee Theatre for our tea party. I will help pour tea, show the girls how to do it properly.

Where'd you learn to pour tea?

From my mother, growing up in West Des Moines, Iowa.

So not sweet tea like we have around here?

I don't think it's going to be Southern sweet tea. Just some normal tea—the tea party is being produced by Tea at the Gallery and they're providing everything.

Do you have a favorite fictional princess?

When it comes to Disney, my favorite has always been Aurora—Sleeping Beauty. I also really love Jasmine—I always thought it was cool that she had a white tiger as a pet. And how fun would it be to be on a magic carpet?

What about real-life princess favorites?

I really enjoy England's Kate Middleton for how down to earth she is—not only her philanthropic side, but also that she's athletic and healthy, she's really well balanced.

Have princess songs influenced your decision to study music?

Yeah, you know, I've grown up singing, learning some of those songs. And some of Disney princess vocalists are classically trained. Hearing them sing with such musicality, it definitely was an influencing factor.

Will there be any boys in the Princess Parade?

Little princes are welcome and two boys have already signed up.

What are some of your favorite operas?

I love The Barber of Seville, by Rossini, who also wrote Cinderella—I love anything Rossini. Mozart I love, and I also enjoy Britton.

Will there be bluebirds involved in some way?

Sure, I hope so. I hope a few will grace us with their presence during our parade or tea party. Maybe if we sing to them.

Tickets to the Parade and Tea Party are $40. (Knoxville Opera is a non-profit.) For more information: knoxvilleopera.com/princess-parade-tea-party.