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Cultural Touchstone Celebrates Milestone Anniversary

Opera Wilmington presents La Traviata
Opera Wilmington presents La Traviata
Courtesy: Opera Wilmington/UNCW

A phantom. Long gloves. Binoculars and balconies. The Olympics of singing. Timeless, classic, dramatic – opera showcases vocal artistry at the highest level.

Opera Wilmington, the resident opera company of UNCW since 2017, is celebrating 10 years with a production of Tosca in July (19, 21, 26 and 28).  

Born on the campus of UNCW, the professional company was spurred by conversations between music and theatre faculty and skilled artists about finding the right community partners.   

Nancy King, a professor and chair of the UNCW Department of Music, serves as the artistic director. UNCW Department of Theatre faculty members Mark Sorensen, Max Lydy, Nancy Carson and music faculty Aaron Peisner and Elizabeth Loparits are also involved. 

Meet the team

“Opera Wilmington was an outgrowth of an opera workshop class I taught, the UNCW Opera Outreach Project (UNCWOOP), which produces operatic scenes and productions, trains collegiate artists and brings opera to students in the community,” says King. 

University faculty (including retired music professors Steven Errante and Joe Hickman), staff, students and alumni have been involved in all aspects of the summer operas since 2014. 

Through this cultural community partnership, the company provides research and other opportunities for students and faculty in performance, costume and set design and music history. UNCW provides marketing and administrative support.   

King speaks to the company’s lasting impact on the community. “It’s unusual for a smaller city to have a professional opera company. We provide summer creative work for many artists. Hearing about the impact we have made on audiences, artists and young performers means a great deal to me personally.” 

Tosca, one of the most popular operas in the world, was discussed as the 10th anniversary production for some time. It was cemented when former lead singers agreed to perform: Shannon Kessler Dooley (Tosca), Jonathan Kaufmann (Cavaradossi) and Joshua Conyers (Scarpia). Each has been crucial to Opera Wilmington’s development and has performed with Seattle Opera, Opera Carolina and the Metropolitan Opera, among others. 

Community members can get a sneak preview of Tosca in UNCW’s MainStage Theatre on Saturday, July 13.  Find out more at

Behind the Curtain

Opera Wilmington, the resident opera company of UNCW, is celebrating 10 years. UNCW faculty, staff, students and alumni have been involved in all aspects of the summer operas since 2014. Photos courtesy of UNCW and Opera Wilmington.