A fond look back . . .
If you missed our final summertime Sunday Salon, don’t despair!
Our final Sunday Salon August 30 featured several of the talented artists you’ll see and hear in person next July as Opera Wilmington brings Mozart’s The Magic Flute to the stage. You’ll meet Christopher Hochstuhl, new to Opera Wilmington, who will sing the role of Tamino, the hero. Joining the conversation is his love interest, Pamina, who will be sung by OW favorite Shannon Kessler Dooley. Also returning to Opera Wilmington (applause!) and the Sunday Salon is baritone John Dooley, cast as the wacky bird-catcher Papageno.
Wait! There’s more! Our conductor and musical director Daniel Brier talked about bringing Mozart’s comic opera to life.
As always, our very own artistic director, Nancy King, served as moderator, blending lively discussion and samples of these singers’ performances.
Opera Wilmington’s season ends on a high note
We heard raves from audience members at our four performances of Puccini’s La Bohème, our sixth summer production since Opera Wilmington was founded in 2014.
Thank yous go out to everyone who attended, to our enduring sponsors Carolina Bay at Autumn Hall and Brightmore of Wilmington, to our cultural partner UNCW, and to numerous other sponsors and supporters who made this endeavor possible.
A cool cabaret
On a beautiful afternoon in early May, Opera Wilmington presented Die Fledermaus favorites Shannon Kessler Dooley and John Dooley, along with their musical collaborators Mory Ortman and Martha Bartz, in a delightful sojourn through the worlds of musical theatre and American standards. The event was hosted by Richard and Diane Trubia at their lovely home in Leland.
We lost our heart to Joshua Conyers in February
Joshua Conyers, the lead in Opera Wilmington’s 2015 production of Verdi’s masterpiece, headlined our annual symposium with a concert Feb. 22.
Since singing the role of Rigoletto in Wilmington, Conyers has made his deliciously honeyed baritone [Opera News] heard in the opera world. He is a member of the Washington National Opera’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, a program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for the 2018-2019 season. As a program participant, he is featured in a variety of baritone roles in National Opera productions. We were fortunate to get a spot on Conyers’ dance card, since he is busy with roles in Washington as well as summer engagements with Wolftrap.
Opening for Conyers was a group of talented youngsters, the Snipes Academy Chorus, under the direction of Christa Faison.
January brought the Three Kings to town
Amahl and the Night Visitors, Opera Wilmington’s first winter opera, received an enthusiastic response from a sold-out crowd Jan. 13. The production of Gian Carlo Menotti’s popular work attracted young families as well as seasoned opera-goers.
Amahl featured Maria Beery as the mother; Rusty Kling, Quentin Lovette and Carl Samet as the three kings; and 10-year-old Jose Chirinos as the mischievous yet winsome title character. The ensemble included members of UNCW’s Chamber Choir as well as students from Forest Hills Global Elementary School. UNCW choral director Joe Hickman conducted the Opera Wilmington Orchestra.
Here’s a snippet from an online review by David Browning, via his Taminophile blog:
“I must rave first about the two most important singers, Amahl and his mother. Jose Chirinos deserves great praise for singing and acting the crippled boy Amahl so beautifully. There was never a moment of doubt in my mind, and he played against the more experienced singers and actors very well. Maria Beery was a very fine Mother. Although the Mother is often sung by heavier voices, Ms Beery was fully equal to the role. Always vocally beautiful, but also quite expressive and musical. I don’t believe I’ve seen a more desperate and passionate performance of “All that gold”. Her vocal moments with Amahl were quite lovely, Ms Beery showing the complete vocal control to refrain from overpowering young Amahl. (I think it was a wise choice to very subtly mic young Mr. Chirinos.)”
Summer 2018 belonged to “The Bat”
Our audiences loved Opera Wilmington’s production of Johann Strauss II’s operetta Die Fledermaus in July 2018. This beloved comic work, performed in English, spun a web of mistaken identity, disguise, intrigue and a purloined pocket watch. The photos below will show you the lavish costumes and skilled acting of our terrific cast. What the pictures can’t do, of course, is to allow you to hear the superb quality of our singers and orchestra. To do that, you’ll have to join us for one of our future productions!
Die Fledermaus featured tenor Joshua Collier as Gabriel Von Eisenstein, soprano Shannon Kessler Dooley as Rosalinde, baritone John Dooley as Dr. Falke, mezzo-soprano Cera Finney as Prince Orlofsky, Michelle Lerch as Adele, Melvin Ezzell as Alfred, Jeffrey Jones as Frank and Gina Gambony as Frosch.
What they said . . .
Audiences loved our production of Die Fledermaus. Overheard after performances:
“This is Opera Wilmington’s best yet!”
“I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time.”
And the critics also raved. Here are two excerpts:
” . . . I am not as conversant in operatic repertoire as Nancy King, artistic director of Opera Wilmington. However, I am an eager and enthusiastic novice—and for me this evening was delightful. Or as one patron commented repeatedly in the lobby: ‘So much fun!’
“There are many people who are intimidated by live opera, but don’t be. Go see Die Fledermaus for a fun, approachable, enjoyable experience.”
“Opera Wilmington is solidifying its position as one of the Port City’s most successful performing groups. It is now formally affiliated with the University of North Carolina Wilmington, and this year’s series of four performances is a centerpiece of UNCW’s expanded Lumina Festival.
“The opera for this year is Die Fledermaus (The Bat), the waltz and polka-filled operetta by Johann Strauss, Jr. It may be Opera Wilmington’s best production yet . . . The cast was consistently strong.”
And here are a few photos of our earlier stagings:
In Summer 2014, the company’s sold-out debut production, Franz Lehár’s The Merry Widow, garnered rave reviews and an outpouring of community enthusiasm.
This success was followed by acclaimed productions of Verdi’s Rigoletto in Summer 2015 (declared “a triumph” by the Star News)
and Mozart’s Così fan tutte in Summer 2016. Following a preview performance of Così fan tutte, statewide arts journal Classical Voice of North Carolina noted: “Opera Wilmington is making a great contribution to the region in presenting live opera of high artistic quality. It is a testament to the many people supporting this mission – and to the growing, developing Wilmington public – that it is succeeding splendidly.”
Opera Wilmington continued its record of artistic excellence and uncompromising production value with its much-anticipated Summer 2017 production of Bizet’s Carmen, the most beloved masterpiece of the entire operatic repertoire.
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