Thanks to a bold $10 million commitment in 2000 from the A.J. Fletcher Foundation, named for businessman and arts advocate Alfred Johnston Fletcher (1887-1979), the Fletcher Opera Institute was established at the School of Music to offer highly personalized and in-depth training at the graduate and post-graduate level, tuition-free.
Since its official launch in 2002, the program has flourished, presenting two fully staged operas a season in coordination with the School of Design and Production, and bringing in a who’s who of opera greats to work with Fellows, including Marilyn Horne, Frederica von Stade, Sherrill Milnes and Anthony Dean Griffey.
Over the 20 years of its history, the Fletcher Opera Institute has graduated alumni performing internationally at the world’s top opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, La Scala, the Paris Opera, and more, as well as district, regional and national winners of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
During the 20th anniversary season, Fletcher Opera presented two fully staged operas: Donizetti’s “Linda di Chamounix,” a bel canto opera reflecting the program’s first-ever production in 2002 (Bellini’s rarely performed “Beatrice di Tenda”); and John Musto’s contemporary comedy, “Volpone,” called “a fizzy, funny romp through a world of vivid characters — each played by a standout artist” by Cultural Voice of North Carolina (CVNC).
UNC President Molly Broad announces a commitment of $10 million from the A.J. Fletcher Foundation of Raleigh to establish and endow the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute at the North Carolina School of the Arts, as it was then known. Famed mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne conducts a master class at NCSA the following year.
The Fletcher Opera Institute presents its inaugural production: Bellini’s rarely performed bel canto opera “Beatrice di Tenda,” including performances at the A.J. Fletcher Opera Theatre in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The Fletcher Scholars Program for Gifted Undergraduate Singers is established, offering significant support for students in the undergrad vocal program. Fletcher boasts three Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions District Winners.
A co-commissioner of Ned Rorem’s opera “Our Town,” the Fletcher Institute presents one of the earliest performances of the new work following its 2006 premiere.
Renowned mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade performs in recital, accompanied by faculty member Allison Gagnon, to help establish the Patricia and Malcolm Brown Distinguished Professorship in Vocal Coaching.
The Fletcher Opera Institute celebrates its 20th anniversary with a return to its roots in bel canto opera, presenting Donizetti’s “Linda di Chamounix,” and demonstrating its commitment to contemporary opera with John Musto’s “Volpone.”
This article appeared in the 2022 issue of Scene.
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July 21, 2022