In Charlotte, we’re not surprised to see an NFL player in line at the grocery store or a NASCAR driver at the movies. But did you know there’s also the possibility you could bump in to an opera star when you’re picking up the dry cleaning?

Melinda Whittington, who plays the Countess Almaviva in Figaro, is a Charlottean. “I’m very proud to call Charlotte home,” she says. She moved to the Queen City in 2009 after earning her undergraduate degree at UNC Chapel Hill and a master’s degree in voice at UNC Greensboro. She didn’t know much about the city other than that “there was a great opera company, symphony and artistic community here – and an airport hub that could me anywhere my career dictated.”

“I always knew New York City was a place I preferred to visit, not live,” she says. “North Carolina just felt like home.”

We caught up with Melinda to get her take on Figaro, opera and what a weekend at home looks like for her.

What do you love about this opera?

The story is so fun – full of twists and turns, disguises and tricks! Mozart’s female characters are always really rich, complex and strong, especially for his time. While [the Countess Almaviva] begins the opera somewhat stereotypically, wallowing in her state as the “scorned woman” (with some of the most beautiful music of the evening, I might add!) she and Susanna decide to take matters into their own hands.

In the end, their plan leads to what I believe Mozart intended as a very sincere apology and change of heart by the Count.

Musically, this opera is a dream! In addition to two of the most beautiful arias in the soprano repertoire, it’s really the mastery of Mozart’s ensemble writing that makes this piece so special and so much fun.

When have you performed with Opera Carolina before? How do you feel about performing on your home turf?

I actually sang in the chorus for a few shows back in 2010 and ‘11. Then, I played Second Lady in The Magic Flute in 2012 and Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi in 2014. Now that I travel a lot – and am generally gone for around a month when I’m on a gig – being able to do my job, sleep in my own bed and see my husband every day sounds like a dream come true! It’s also going to be fun to have my friends, family, voice students and Opera Carolina patron friends there to see the show.

What do you do for fun in Charlotte?

On the rare occasion Phil and I are both home on a weekend, we typically just prioritize spending time with friends and family … and resting at home! We are subscribers to the Symphony, and we go to the opera and other local concerts. Most often, we just spend time with friends at a local restaurant or one of our many amazing breweries or go to Phil’s brother’s house to play with our two nieces.

Learn more about Figaro or purchase tickets: or 704.372.1000.