A History of Opera Wilmington
Opera Wilmington was born in early 2014 from the dreams of two opera lovers and one professor of voice at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. The determination of Nancy King and Wendy and Jerry Fingerhut, drawing on the abundance of musical talent in the Cape Fear area, resulted in an almost-unthinkable achievement: a fully staged (and sold-out) production of Franz Lehar’s The Merry Widow less than six months later.
Opera Wilmington’s success has continued with the following ambitious summer productions:
2015 Rigoletto – Verdi
2016 Così fan tutte – Mozart
2017 Carmen – Bizet
2018 Die Fledermaus – Johann Strauss Jr.
2019 La Bohème – Puccini
2022 The Magic Flute – Mozart
During the Covid pandemic, we were committed to keeping local opera alive: in 2020 we offered a series of streamed programs through our YouTube channel. The following July, we presented three concerts in venues where audience members could space themselves safely. A three-part music travel series featuring travel professional Julie Hunt debuted in November 2021.
For the past few years, we have celebrated the legacy of Wilmington-born Caterina Jarboro, the first Black diva to sing a leading role with an all-white opera company. Each year in February or March, we bring a rising singer of color to highlight our Caterina Jarboro Memorial Symposium and Concert.
In addition to our annual fully staged production, Opera Wilmington has offered themed concerts in collaboration with other arts organizations like the Cameron Art Museum, pop-up musical celebrations such as Oktoberfest in late 2021, and two family-friendly operas: Amahl and the Night Visitors (Menotti) and Hansel and Gretel (Humperdinck).
In all our summer productions as well as Amahl and Hansel and Gretel, Opera Wilmington has involved children through our Opera Camp and made a special effort to reach out to children from underserved neighborhoods. As Opera Wilmington grows and matures, we seek additional ways to broaden our community outreach and share our love of opera with youngsters and their families.
We are honored to be the recipients of grants from the Arts Council of Wilmington and New Hanover County and The Landfall Foundation. During the Covid pandemic, we also found support through various pandemic-relief federal grants.