Founded in 1948, Opera Carolina is the largest professional opera company in the Carolinas. This spring it welcomes international opera superstars Denyce Graves and tenor Carl Tanner to Charlotte for an innovative new production of Bizet’s Carmen, the tale of a seductive gypsy who uses the naive corporal Don Jose for her own purposes. Staged in a bullring, the spectators serve as the chorus and are joined by a company of 10 professional dancers. See it at the Belk Theater Saturday, March 13; Sunday, March 14; Thursday, March 18; and Saturday, March 20.
Carmen remains one of the most accessible and popular operas of all time. James Meena, General Director and Principal Conductor, Opera Carolina shares these tips on the best ways to enjoy Carmen.
James Meena’s 10 Ways to Enjoy Carmen
1. Borrow or purchase a recording of Carmen and discover the music, including The Toreador’s Song, before the show.
2. Visit www.YouTube.com and search for Carmen — there are great video excerpts to be enjoyed.
3. Explore Opera Carolina’s Web site and watch its “Overtures” video preview to Carmen hosted by Maestro James Meena. Watch the video »
4. Get cast lists, background, and synopsis of Carmen at the Opera Carolina Web site.
5. Read the entire script when you download the Libretto.
6. Explore directions, parking and maps for Opera Carolina at their Web site.
7. Attend a lobby preview 45 minutes before each performance with Queens University English professor Dr. Emily Seelbinder.
8. Know Before You Go! Attend a free Carmen preview with WDAV-FM classical radio host Jennifer Foster on Sunday, March 7, at 2 p.m. at Barnes & Noble SouthPark, 4020 Sharon Road, Charlotte.
9. Opera makes a perfect date night. Take your companion to one of Opera Carolina’s uptown Charlotte restaurant partners: Luce, Blue Restaurant and Bar, BLT at the Ritz Carlton and The Capital Grille.
10. For the ultimate opera experience, purchase on-stage premiere seating and join the chorus in the bullring stands for Acts I and II. Tickets include a backstage tour and champagne and hors d’ouevres backstage during intermission. Then, back into the theater for Acts III and IV!
For more information or to order tickets, visit www.operacarolina.org/tickets or call (704) 332-7177. A variety of season subscription plans for Opera Carolina are available.
Opera is a popular performing art throughout North Carolina. Piedmont Opera Theater in Winston-Salem is a nationally-recognized professional opera company with a commitment to community outreach and education that includes Opera 101 courses. Greensboro Opera in conjunction with Guilford County Schools has presented opera to all fifth graders in public school in the county for the past 17 years. The Opera Company of North Carolina in Raleigh sponsored an appearance by internationally-acclaimed tenor Luciano Pavarotti in 2002 which drew more than 12,000 people, making it the second largest-grossing concert (after Paul McCartney) ever held at Raleigh’s RBC Center. The Diana Wortham Theatre located in the center of Asheville’s vibrant downtown arts scene at the Pack Place Education Arts and Science Center is the primary venue for the Asheville Lyric Opera.
African-American artists take the spotlight in a series of performing arts events this spring. Porgy and Bess marks its 75th anniversary in 2010, and Asheville Bravo will present a Living Arts production of the musical Saturday, March 20, at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium. The production features a cast of 30 and a live orchestra that blends the sounds of classical music, popular tunes, jazz, blues and spirituals in songs like Summertime and It Ain’t Necessarily So. Asheville Bravo was established in 1932 and continues to enlarge its Music Education Partnership program, which provides subsidized or free tickets for traditionally underserved populations including students, music education programs presented in the public schools and education programs for the general public. For more information or to order tickets visit www.ashevillebravoconcerts.org or call (828) 225-5887.
The renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater brings its blend of African-American cultural expression and American modern dance to Memorial Hall on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus Saturday, April 10, and Sunday, April 11, as part of the Carolina Performing Arts Series. The series presents contemporary performers of American roots, urban and world music, along with classical and jazz orchestras and vocalists. Consider becoming a Carolina Performing Arts subscriber and save 15 percent off the cost of tickets — there are seven different sets of subscription packages that group performances by genre. Or, choose a Pick Six package which offers a 10 percent discount on any six shows regardless of category. For more information or to order tickets, visit www.carolinaperformingarts.org or call (919) 843-3333.
Blues and jazz vocalist, Vaudeville performer and Broadway and Hollywood star Ethel Waters is the subject of Ethel Waters: His Eye Is on the Sparrow at Triad Stage in Greensboro Sunday, April 11, through Sunday, May 2. This original stage production by Larry Parr features Waters’ well-known songs including Stormy Weather and Am I Blue? Explore buying a subscription to Triad Stage’s Tenth Anniversary 2010-2011 season, now posted online, or explore other special offers, including $34 Good Anytime Passes and gift certificates, $10 Gallery Seats and pay-what-you-can performances. For more information, visit triadstage.org or call (336) 272-0160.
New Harmonies: Celebrating America’s Roots is a traveling exhibition that tells the musical story of America with photographs of performing artists, instruments, lyrics and artist profiles. It features North Carolina musical artists including banjo players Earl Scruggs (Shelby) and Bascom Lamar Lunsford (Mars Hill), singers The Badgett Sisters (Yanceyville), drummer Max Roach (Newland), fiddler Tommy Jarrell (Toast), guitarist Don Gibson (Shelby) and bassist Alando Mitchell (Goldsboro). The traveling exhibition is a collaboration of the N.C. Humanities Council , the Smithsonian Institution and humanities councils across the United States.
New Harmonies: Celebrating America’s Roots will be on display at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History March 13 though April 24; the Warren County Memorial Library May 1 through June 12; Museum of the Albemarle June 19 through August 1; the Arts Council of Wayne County August 7 through September 18; Mars Hill College September 25 through November 6; and the Don Gibson Theatre in Shelby from November 13 through December 29. Local programs and performances will supplement the exhibition in each location. Visit the N.C. Humanities Council Web site for schedules.