Fletcher Opera production receives first place prize from the National Opera Association

The A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts has won a first-place award from the National Opera Association (NOA) for its April 2016 production of La Tragédie de Carmen (The Tragedy of Carmen).

The UNCSA production won in Division V of NOA’s Opera Production Competition, which encourages and rewards creative, high quality opera productions by small professional opera companies and opera training programs.

Nicholas Muni

Nicholas Muni, Artistic Director of Fletcher Opera Institute

Fletcher Artistic Director Nicholas Muni, who made his local stage directing debut with La Tragédie de Carmen, said the award affirmed his experience heading up a UNCSA opera production. “The dedication and commitment to excellence was very impressive,” he said. “The student cast, design team, stage management and orchestra all outdid themselves.”

In its April 21, 2016 review, the Winston-Salem Journal said: “Muni, the company’s new artistic director, has unleashed a Carmen that is ferocious and full-blooded. Using Spain in the aftermath of Franco’s victory in 1940 as the opera’s setting puts the gypsy Carmen’s reckless behavior into sharp relief.”

Muni said he tried to give La Tragédie de Carmen a contemporary aesthetic while setting it in period. “We strove for a high level of realism,” he said. “I think we did very well, and this prize is validation and acknowledgment from the professional world of opera.

Carmen

"La Tragédie de Carmen" was presented at UNCSA in spring 2016. 

“It will help us get the word out that UNCSA and Fletcher Opera do quality work,” Muni added.

Brian Cole, Dean of the School of Music since Aug. 1, said the award is testament to Muni’s leadership and to the talent and hard work of students and faculty in the School of Music and the School of Design and Production

“This is a prestigious prize, and we are proud of the many incredibly talented people who contributed to this production,” Cole said. “We have a remarkable opera program in the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute -- supported by beautiful sets, costumes, wigs and makeup -- and this award will help share the news of the tremendous work going on here in Winston-Salem.”

We have a remarkable opera program in the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute -- supported by beautiful sets, costumes, wigs and makeup -- and this award will help share the news of the tremendous work going on here in Winston-Salem.

Music Dean Brian Cole

Cole said he looks forward to seeing his first UNCSA opera when Fletcher Opera presents Florencia en el Amazonas (Florence in the Amazon) in February 2017. “This is a very important new opera of our time, and was the first Spanish-language opera ever commissioned by a major U.S. company. I can't wait to see how Nic Muni stages it, and hear our students interpret this lush and evocative music,” he said.

Inspired by Gabriel García Márquez’ novel “Love in the Time of Cholera,” Florencia en el Amazonas (Florence in the Amazon) will be presented Feb. 3, 5 and 7 in the Stevens Center in downtown Winston-Salem.

In addition to the prize for Carmen, Muni was recognized by the NOA for a production of Higglety-Pigglety Pop/The Magic Flute, which he directed at Bard College. It won third place in Division VI.

Founded in 1955, the National Opera Association seeks to promote a greater appreciation of opera and music theatre, to enhance pedagogy and performing activities, and to increase performance opportunities by supporting projects that improve the scope and quality of opera. Members in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, and Australia participate in a wide array of activities in support of this mission.

by Lauren Whitaker

December 13, 2016