About Opera Carolina

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Opera Carolina was founded in 1948 as the Charlotte Music Club and is, today, the largest opera company in the Carolinas and one of the most successful in the Southeast region, annually serving more than 75,000 people in North Carolina and South Carolina (excluding broadcasts). Currently under the leadership of General Director & Principal Conductor James Meena, Opera Carolina produces three main stage productions each season that are featured on the Belk Theater stage as well as an extensive array of educational programs, including the Opera Xpress statewide educational tours, The Opera Carolina Academy and Student Night at the Opera, reaching an average of seventeen counties in the Carolinas each year through these programs.

Opera Xpress, the educational touring company, provides in-school performances of children’s operas to more than 25,000 regional students and teachers each year. These performances not only bring the opera experience to students, but also provide new and exciting teaching tools for classroom teachers. The Opera Carolina Academy provides professional caliber vocal and dramatic training to the region’s aspiring young singing actors, featuring a summer Music-Drama Workshop that immerses students in the musical and dramatic training of the art form from the perspective of a professional singer-actor. Opera Carolina rounds out its educational programs with Student Night at the Opera, inviting regional schools, families, and organizations the opportunity to attend the final dress rehearsal of each main stage opera production for a first-hand opera experience.

The company has a long-standing commitment to creating and producing new works of art and preserving the masterpieces of past generations. In the last eight years the company has presented six regional premieres and three new American operas, including Cold Sassy Tree and Susannah by South Carolina native son Carlisle Floyd, and Margaret Garner by Richard Danielpour and Toni Morrison. The company has also co-produced new a new set to The Magic Flute by artist Jun Kaneko, as seen on the Opera stage in January of 2013.

Opera Carolina is also the only Charlotte performing arts organization to be featured on national radio. Broadcasted productions included Margaret Garner (produced in 2007), Faust (produced in 2008), Il Trovatore (2011), and Eugene Onegin (2011) have been broadcast over NPR World of Opera, nationally syndicated to 92 stations and supported by Wells Fargo Private Bank.

Performer Bios / Headshots

CASEY BRANCATO, mezzo-soprano

Mezzo-Soprano Casey Brancato has performed and starred in a variety of theater ranging from opera to film. She is currently performing as Senorita La Bamba/Old Woman in Opera Carolina's Opera Xpress production of How Nanita Learned to make Flan and has performed in more than 15 professional operas and musical theater productions since graduating from Greensboro College with her Bachelor's Degree in Music Performance. Ms. Brancato is also very active in the film industry of Charlotte. Some of her film credits include Homeland (Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin), Are You Here (Amy Poeler, Owen Wilson, Dir. Matthew Weiner), industrials and commercials for KFC/Pepsi (Jeff Gordon), Lowes, and NASCAR. Ms. Brancato is an instructor with Jim Hickey Music where she teaches acting, voice, and piano. She also enjoys performing as a vocalist with local classic rock band, Carolina Rhythm and running after her 4 year old twins Mason and Madison


MonicaMurphy.Headshot.pngMonica Denise Murphy is a native of Fort Mill, South Carolina. This award winning performer has had the opportunity to tour England (2000), Italy (2002 and 2007), Austria/Czech Republic (2004) as well as preformed with classical well known artist such as; Roman Terleckyj, Andre Thomas, and Diane Bish. Murphy’s singing styles include; Gospel, Rhythm & Blues, Jazz, Blues, Musical Theater, Opera, Classical Voice, and Choral Singing. She has received her Bachelor of Music Degree in Vocal Performance from Mercer University in Macon, GA (2004) and Master of Music in Vocal Performance from University of Georgia in Athens, GA (2010). She has been featured in many Operas, such as; Dialogues of the Carmelites as Blanche de la Force, The Merry Widow as Hannah, Falstaff as Alice Ford, Don Giovanni as Donna Elvira, Amahl and the Night Visitors as the Mother, Carmen as Micaela, Dido and Aeneas as Dido, The Old Maid and the Thief as Miss Todd, and Trouble in Tahiti as Dinah. Her musicals include; Into the Woods as Little Red Riding Hood, Lord Try Me One More Time as Mi Mi, The Sound of Music as Mother Abbess, Cinderella as Queen, Annie as Miss Hannigan, Babes in Toyland as the Toy Master, and many others. She is currently involved with Opera Carolina’s Opera Xpress Program in their adapted version of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel as Gretel.


-- Evening Prayer (exact excerpt takes place at 3’10” – 6’00”): Hansel and Gretel have been traveling through the woods collecting berries for their mother (after they ate their first basket-full!) when it gets dark and they must spend the night in the woods. They stop to sing their evening prayer before falling asleep. Performed by soprano Diana Damrau and mezzo-soprano Heidi Kirchslager, production by the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in 2008.
-- O Look! O Look! (exact excerpt takes place from beginning to 2’42”) Hansel and Gretel wake after their night’s sleep in the forest to find a house made of candy! They sing of how nice it would be to eat and their hopes that the lady who lives inside the house will invite them inside… Performed by soprano Diana Damrau and mezzo-soprano Heidi Kirchslager, production by the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in 2008.


Opera Voices: Information on how the voice works and the different types of voices.

A Recipe for Opera: Information on what opera is and the elements that make up the art form.