UNC Opera performs a wide range of opera, operetta, and musical theater repertory, including both standard and new works. The company not only serves the educational and artistic needs of the University, but also provides affordable and accessible performances for the community. Each year, the group presents tailored outreach shows in K–12 public schools and/or community venues. UNC Opera generally presents two mainstage productions each year (one per semester, often double-cast with orchestra), and has developed a reputation for presenting dynamic American programming, often with a tie to the state of North Carolina. The group performs in Hill Hall Auditorium, Memorial Hall, and Historic Playmakers Theater on the UNC campus.
This past academic year (2014–2015) UNC Opera presented Singing with the Bard, operatic scenes inspired by the plays of Shakespeare, and a fully staged production of Strauss’ “Die Fledermaus,” set in 2015 in Chapel Hill, to commemorate the last opera in Hill Hall Auditorium before its upcoming renovation. Previous productions include a pairing of Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Michael Ching’s contemporary sequel Buoso’s Ghost, the world premiere of Searching for Spinoza (music and lyrics by Thomas Conroy, book by Suzanne Ishee); Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and La Clemenza di Tito, and Cavalli’s L’Egisto with baroque orchestra conducted by Prof. Brent Wissick.
Throughout its history, UNC Opera has presented a variety of works by American composers, including the East-Coast premiere of Robert Moran’s From the Towers of the Moon with the composer and librettist Michael John LaChiusa in residence, the world premiere of James Legg’s The Power of Xingu (with the composer in residence), the NC premieres of Milton Granger’s “talk opera” The Proposal (composer in residence), Richard Wargo’s The Music Shop and James Harp’s The Tale of Johnnie S. Kickey (an adaptation of Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi). Other highly praised productions have ranged from French Baroque opera—Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre’s Cephale et Procris—to classic and modern masterpieces including Mozart’s Cosi fan tutti, Britten’s Albert Herring, and Blitzstein’s The Cradle Will Rock.
Plans for the 2015-16 season include Couples Therapy, a program of duets from various stages of relationships, and a spring production of Pauline Viardot’s Cendrillon (Cinderella), including students from local schools, with a special Saturday morning performance for area children. UNC Opera will also begin expanding community educational outreach through its “OPERA 2 U” program for elementary schools.