Named for businessman and arts advocate Alfred Johnston Fletcher (1887-1979), the A.J. Fletcher Foundation has supported the growth of opera in America for over 50 years, first through the creation of the Grassroots Opera Company in 1948 and subsequently through the productions and educational outreach of the National Opera Company.
In order to strengthen and perpetuate Mr. Fletcher’s vision for opera, the Foundation took the unprecedented step in the spring of 2000 of committing $10 million to establish an Opera Institute at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. In September 2001, the A.J. Fletcher Foundation merged its National Opera Company with the University of North Carolina School of the Arts School of Music’s graduate opera program, in collaboration with the University of North Carolina School of the Arts School of Design and Production, to create the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute.
The Fletcher Opera Institute is centrally located within a ring of opera companies, including The Washington National Opera, Virginia Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Kentucky Opera, Nashville Opera, The Atlanta Opera and The Spoleto Festival. Additionally, in North Carolina itself, there are four vibrant opera companies that offer opportunities and access to young artists. Students at The AJ Fletcher Opera Institute can enjoy the work at these and numerous other innovative and critically acclaimed companies to further enhance their education.