The A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute continues its 20th-anniversary year with performances of Gaetano Donizetti’s “Linda di Chamounix,” a return to the opera training program’s roots in bel canto opera performance, and the program’s first full-length opera performance with a live audience since February 2019.
The opera will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 4; 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 6; and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 8, in the Stevens Center, 405 W. Fourth St., Winston-Salem. The Stevens Center will be open at full capacity on the orchestra level. Audience members will be required to wear masks.
Tickets are $25, $20 for students with a valid ID, online or by calling the Box Office at 336-721-1945.
Known for its innovative programming, the Fletcher Institute presented its first production in 2001 with Bellini’s rarely performed opera from 1833, “Beatrice di Tenda.”
The institute honors its history with another rarely performed opera from the same era: “Linda di Chamounix,” the story of a young girl and the sacrifices she makes for her family as political and economic forces conspire against her.
“I’m most excited that this is part of our 20th-anniversary season,” said Steven LaCosse, Fletcher Opera’s artistic director who is also the stage director for “Linda di Chamounix.”
Bel canto – literally “beautiful singing” – originated in Italy and dominated most of European opera during the 1700s and early 1800s.
With music by Donizetti and libretto by Gaetano Rossi, “Linda di Chamounix” will be sung in Italian with English supertitles. James Allbritten, music director of Fletcher Opera and general manager and artistic director of Piedmont Opera, is the music director. Angela Vanstory Ward does vocal preparation with the singers.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Fletcher Opera has continued to rehearse and perform observing safety protocols.
“Throughout COVID, we’ve been fortunate to be able to continue training our artists while staying safe,” LaCosse said. “Theater people are really good at adapting and making things happen. We acknowledge there are things we can’t control. We just continue to do what we do, and if something changes, we figure it out.”
Kameron Alston, a second-year graduate student who is a candidate for his Master of Music in the spring of 2022, is singing the role of Carlo, the ardent suitor of Linda, the title character.
Growing up in a musical family in Texas, Alston always knew he wanted to be a singer. When his mother signed him up for voice lessons in seventh grade, he fell in love with classical music and knew by ninth grade that he wanted to be an opera singer.
Alston is especially excited to be singing his first leading-man role in a full three-act opera.
“It’s a lot of fun exploring this character and getting to play a romantic lead. It’s like being one of those Disney princes,” Alston said. “I love bel canto. I came in singing only bel canto, so this is where I thrive. With bel canto, you have room to add more emotional color and more emotional context to what you’re singing.”
The Fletcher Opera anniversary season continues with performances of the opera "Volpone" April 20-24, and the 20th Anniversary Gala Concert on April 30, featuring star alumni, current fellows and the UNCSA Cantata Singers joined by the UNCSA Symphony Orchestra in a program of operatic favorites. That event takes place in conjunction with the NextNow Scholarship Fundraiser.
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January 13, 2022