Nancy King, opera singer and associate professor in the music department at University of North Carolina Wilmington along with Wendy and Jerry Fingerhut, transplanted New Yorkers and avid Metropolitan Opera fans, have
started a grassroots effort to ensure Wilmington has its own performing opera company.
Within two months of a meeting around the dining room table, the trio has created the nonprofit company Opera Wilmington and has one successful fundraiser under its belts with support from organizations such as The Arts Council of Wilmington and New Hanover County.
“We are hoping to bring the entire arts community together,” King said.
Appealing to area visitors is one of the company’s goals. The Fingerhuts came to the area on a golf vacation and retired locally but not without determining that live streaming of the Metropolitan Opera was available at UNCW. After 40 years of going to the Met, they believe passionate fans like themselves will attend Opera Wilmington when coming to the area on vacation.
“There’s a lot of talent in Wilmington,” said Wendy Fingerhut, who serves as president and executive director of Opera Wilmington. Jerry Fingerhut serves as financial director.
King has taught voice, vocal studies and opera at UNCW for 15 years. She will serve as artistic director and perform in Opera Wilmington. She has instructed in the community since 2000, working with children and with participants at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, bringing in singers of various levels to demonstrate.
Mark Sorenson, costume designer at UNCW and designer for the opera workshop every spring is on board. Principal conductor will be Steven Errante, a UNCW music professor and conductor of the Wilmington Symphony since 1986.
The first production, The Merry Widow, will be performed in English July 25-27 on the main stage of UNCW’s Cultural Arts Building, where 300 seats are available.
King will be featured in the role of Hanna Glawari and Michael Rallis in the role of Count Danilo Danilovitsch. Auditions for other roles will take place in May or June. One production per summer is scheduled for now, with plans for future growth.