Opera Wilmington https://www.operawilmington.org/ We bring fully staged operas and concerts to a diverse audience in the Wilmington, NC area. Sat, 24 Apr 2021 16:03:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.2.4 Tori Thomas https://www.operawilmington.org/tori-thomas/ https://www.operawilmington.org/tori-thomas/#respond Sat, 24 Apr 2021 14:56:57 +0000 https://www.operawilmington.org/?p=1461 The post Tori Thomas appeared first on Opera Wilmington.


Tori Jonique Thomas grew up in Onslow County and showed her vocal talent very early. Now, as she completes her final semester at UNCW, she contemplates just where she’d like her talent and interests to take her. In the meantime, this self-professed “Puccini girl” is also doing social media work for Opera Wilmington, demonstrating her skills in that area as well.

What got you interested in singing?

I grew up in church. My grandma was quick to put me in a choir and then have me solo because she found out I could sing at an early age. I got into opera specifically when I enrolled at UNCW. It was a whole new world!
Note: Tori is currently singing in the choir at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Wilmington.

Why did you pursue voice studies at UNCW?

I had done musical theater in high school, but instead of going directly into musical theater in college I chose UNCW to get classically trained because of a vocal injury I wanted to repair.

So, musical theater in high school?

I have sung since the fifth grade, but my first big role was Éponine in Les Misérables. I was a freshman in high school and I was terrified. But that’s when [the singing bug] bit me.

I also did Aida [the musical] and a couple of plays.

Describe your vocal range.

I am a mezzo-soprano but can sing higher notes as well.

You graduate this semester. What’s ahead for you?

I would love to go back to school in vocal performance: musical theater and opera performance. And I’d love to pursue a career in theater.

Tori, at left, as one of the Three Ladies in UNC-WOOP!’s production of The Magic Flute.

What have you participated in at UNCW? What experiences have meant the most to you?

I’ve been in every single WOOP! [UNCW Opera Outreach Program] program while I’ve been here; the first was Carmen, performed in Southport. I was in the ensembles for Opera Wilmington’s Amahl and the Night Visitors and La Bohème.

Tori, costumed for her ensemble role in Opera Wilmington’s La Bohème, gets a quick vote of confidence from Jemeesa Yarborough, who sang the role of Mimí.

The most important experiences have been singing in two Caterina Jarboro Symposium master classes. I feel so closely connected with her: to be an African American woman in that industry. The first master class was with Jemeesa Yarborough and the second was with Joshua Conyers. Josh helped a lot with grounding during a performance. I never thought I had stage fright, but he gave me some good pointers to feel more comfortable.

What are your favorite composers and what roles would you most like to sing?

As far as opera goes, I absolutely love Puccini. Puccini makes music that cries in the best ways. It’s so close to how my emotions feel. My favorite Puccini opera is Turandot. I would love to sing the aria “Signore, ascolta!” [Sung by the slave girl Liu]

I am also a lover of Schönberg. Among my favorite Schönberg compositions is a cabaret piece, “Schenk mir deinen goldenen Kamm” (Give me your golden comb). I love the Jessye Norman recording of that.

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My Opera Story https://www.operawilmington.org/my-opera-story-post/ https://www.operawilmington.org/my-opera-story-post/#respond Mon, 28 May 2018 19:36:42 +0000 https://www.operawilmington.org/?p=657 The post My Opera Story appeared first on Opera Wilmington.


Maggie and Kate Bradley

Kate and Maggie Bradley, 14-year-old daughters of Frank and Mary Bradley, have been part of the Opera Wilmington family for several years. They have attended our Opera Camp! each summer to learn about all aspects of staging an opera, from A (acting) to X (X-fade) — sorry, apparently there is no “Y” or “Z” in theatrical terms.

Read, in their own words, what drew them to Opera Wilmington in the first place and what keeps them waiting in the wings for our next production!

What was your first experience with opera?
Kate: Participating in Opera Camp in 2017 (Carmen)
Maggie: Seeing the performance of Carmen.

What experiences have you enjoyed most at Opera Camp?
Kate: I loved the whole thing, from getting to perform with a real opera company to working on costumes and sets.
Maggie: I liked being in the operas and love performing. It was also cool to work on the sets.

What productions have you been in?
Kate: Carmen, La Bohème, Die Fledermaus
Maggie: La Bohème, Die Fledermaus

What have you enjoyed most about being on stage and performing in an opera? What has been surprising?
Kate: I loved performing with other people and learning stage directions – the whole thing was so much fun. Biggest surprise was in making props – how plastic cutlery could become a beautiful chandelier [this was for Die Fledermaus – ed.].
Maggie: I love being on stage and singing with a group – I just love performing. Surprising – How much goes into the costume design and how great they all looked.

Has your experience inspired you to stay involved with musical performance, or music in general?
Kate: Yes, I love music and will continue to be involved somehow.
Maggie: Definitely. I hope to get back to some kind of performing after the pandemic. Opera Camp also inspired me to keep singing and playing music in my free time.

What else do you do musically?
Kate: I play the cello and am a member of the Wilmington Youth Symphony Orchestra.
Maggie: I love to sing, play guitar, ukulele and piano and write songs.

Here's this month's Opera IQ question

Which one of the following operas does NOT have a leading lady?
  1. Tosca
  2. The Merry Wives of Windsor
  3. La Traviata
  4. Cendrillon

High Notes Blog

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Missing Hvorostovsky https://www.operawilmington.org/missing-hvorostovsky/ https://www.operawilmington.org/missing-hvorostovsky/#respond Wed, 21 Feb 2018 22:39:54 +0000 https://www.operawilmington.org/?p=623 The post Missing Hvorostovsky appeared first on Opera Wilmington.


When Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky passed away in the early morning of November 22, 2017, his life cut tragically short at age 55 by brain cancer, the opera world lost one of its most distinctive voices and dramatic talents.

Like many of his fans, my most cherished memory of Hvorostovsky was his heartbreaking performance in the title role of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin—particularly the 2007 Metropolitan Opera production, which was broadcast into movie theaters as part of the Met’s very first season of Live in HD transmissions.

Hvorostovsky himself cited Onegin as his signature role, but with his richly colored tone, depth of expression, and charismatic stage presence, he was also a perfect fit for the tragic operas of Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi. Throughout his career, Hvorostovsky brought to life many of Verdi’s most difficult and complicated characters: the disapproving father figure Giorgio Germont in La Traviata, the assassin Anckarström in Un Ballo in Maschera, the villainous Count di Luna from Il Trovatore, the revolutionary Rodrigo in Don Carlo, and the title roles of Simon Boccanegra and Rigoletto.

Seven months before his passing, Hvorostovsky made a surprise appearance at the Metropolitan Opera’s 50th Anniversary Gala to give a powerful final performance of “Cortigiani, vil razza dannata” from Act II of Rigoletto. This aria is sung by the hunchbacked court jester Rigoletto to his fellow courtiers, who have abducted Rigoletto’s beloved daughter Gilda and taken her to the chambers of the licentious Duke of Mantua. Rigoletto arrives at the palace to rescue Gilda from the predatory Duke, but the courtiers block his path. At first, he rages against them and vows revenge, but then he tearfully pleads with them to take pity: “It doesn’t cost you anything to return her, while such a daughter is all the world to me.”

In his impassioned delivery of this aria, Hvorostovsky captures the full range of emotions that Rigoletto experiences in such a horrible moment: righteous anger, betrayal, pained desperation, and a father’s guilt and remorse for being helpless to prevent his daughter’s traumatic suffering.

But don’t just take my word for it: see (and hear!) Hvorostovsky for yourself.

And if you’re in the market for more:

  • Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Eugene Onegin, performed by Renée Fleming (Tatiana), Dmitri Hvorostovsky (Onegin), Ramón Vargas (Lenski), and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Chorus, and Ballet, conducted by Valery Gergiev (Decca, 2007), DVD.
  • Giuseppe Verdi, Rigoletto, performed by Dmitri Hvorostovsky (Rigoletto), Nadine Sierra (Gilda), Francesco Demura (Duke of Mantua), and the Kaunas State Choir and Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Constantine Orbelian (Delos, 2017), CD.

~ Helena Kopchick Spencer

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Getting comfortable with opera https://www.operawilmington.org/getting-comfortable-with-opera/ https://www.operawilmington.org/getting-comfortable-with-opera/#respond Mon, 08 Jan 2018 15:05:29 +0000 https://www.operawilmington.org/?p=259 The post Getting comfortable with opera appeared first on Opera Wilmington.


I have been an opera lover since my teens and I knew that set me apart somehow as the very word “opera” seems to turn many people defensive. It scares them. This is still true, as a recent survey showed that a significant number of responders were worried that they wouldn’t understand an opera and that they would somehow feel out of place.

When I moved to Wilmington in 1978 I made certain that the Saturday Met broadcasts could be heard here. Unfortunately, after a few months those broadcasts abruptly disappeared from local airwaves. This led me into a multi year effort which resulted in associating with a group  who made possible the appearance of Wilmington’s first public radio station, WHQR;  thankfully many years later, still thriving.

I have devoted considerable energy in an effort to “debunk” the misconceptions about grand opera. I have gone into schools and on the air to try to relieve the anxiety some seem to feel about this entertainment. There isn’t a much better way to “convert” friends than the series of Metropolitan Opera film showings in HD at our local theaters. These are more affordable than a ticket in a major opera house today, the dress is casual, the sound and visuals are excellent, the intermission features entertaining and, of course, sub-titles make it possible to follow the story.

Opera Wilmington’s productions of fully staged operas are another thrilling entrée to opera. Again, supra-titles guide one along, the price is right and the mix of persons and dress will not intimidate. Follow this website for information about our offerings.

Why does opera exist at all? The power of music combined with action can’t be denied. Who doesn’t dry their eyes in a movie when the music swells behind an emotional climax? You may not really hear the music, but it is there and makes a monumental difference. That’s why opera brings us back over and over again.

Jerry Nolan

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