Symposium Explores Opera, Ballet and Civil Rights Activism

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Opera Wilmington’s symposium will go beyond last year’s celebration honoring Wilmington’s first operatic diva by hosting an inaugural Caterina Jarboro memorial recital and lectures that will explore the intersections of opera, ballet and Civil Rights activism.
Opera Wilmington’s fourth annual symposium, “Exploring Opera & Beyond: Bohème, Broadway and Ballet,” is scheduled for Feb. 22-23. The symposium will also welcome baritone Joshua Conyers, the featured performer for the memorial recital.
“Inviting our community to campus to experience a rich series of lectures this year, Opera Wilmington hopes to provide an opening to larger conversations about what connects us all,” said Nancy King, Opera Wilmington's artistic director and associate professor of music at UNCW.
Conyers is set to perform on Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m at Beckwith Hall in the Cultural Arts Building. He will also lead the Caterina Jarboro Memorial Master Class, featuring college-level undergraduate singers of color. The public is invited to observe the master class, which begins at noon on Feb. 22 in Beckwith Recital Hall.
Keynote speaker Theara J. Ward, former Dance Theatre of Harlem principal, will share stories and discuss the topic “Inside an American Classic: Dance Theatre of Harlem, a Moving Image of Social Justice” on Feb. 23 at 2 p.m., also in Beckwith Recital Hall.
Caterina Jarboro, who was the first female singer to break the color barrier in American opera, also became the first black woman to perform in a U.S opera house in 1933 as part of the Chicago Opera Company at Manhattan’s Hippodrome.
“Even though Jarboro never sang at the Met, it is important to recognize her role in the larger history of the Civil Rights movement, which includes the fight for representation in the arts,” said Helena Spencer, assistant professor of music and member of the Opera Wilmington Board of Directors. “Her story has the power to inspire aspiring singers and remind us that extraordinary artistic achievements were happening outside of America’s most dominant cultural institutions.”
For a complete list of the opera symposium’s lectures and ticket information, visit symposium is free and open to the public. Tickets for the recital are $30 for the general public; $15 for UNCW faculty and staff; and $6 for students with valid UNCW ID. Tickets can be purchased online or at the UNCW Box Office in Kenan Auditorium, Monday through Friday from noon until 4 p.m. or by calling 910.962.3500.
The two-day event is co-sponsored by the UNCW Department of Music, the Office of the Arts and the Office of Community Engagement. Opera Wilmington is the resident company of UNCW, providing scholarly opportunities for students and faculty in performance, design and music history and opera programs for residents throughout southeastern North Carolina.
-- Kristian S. Worthy ’19