Quilt Weaves Tapestry of A.J. Fletcher’s Opera Legacy

Quilt Weaves Tapestry of A.J. Fletcher’s Opera Legacy

A. J. Fletcher as Don Giovanni
A quilt honoring the opera legacy of A.J. Fletcher will hang in the theater bearing his name.

The A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater in downtown Raleigh will soon have a permanent artistic tribute to its namesake. The Foundation bearing his name commissioned Cary artist Amy Stewart Winsor to make a quilt depicting scenes from productions by the National Opera Company, focusing on the favorites of Fletcher, an avid opera performer and advocate.

Fletcher Foundation Board Member and Corporate Secretary for Fletcher’s Capitol Broadcasting Company Scottie Stephenson developed the idea after seeing Winsor’s work.

A scene from Cinderella.

Hansel & Gretel
A scene from Hansel & Gretel.

The quilt took 540 hours to complete and was designed using photographs from scenes performed by the National Opera Company. One scene in particular is from the opera “Martha,” long thought to be Fletcher’s favorite.

“The quilt will hang in the A. J. Fletcher Opera Theater as a tribute to him, and has a way of honoring his opera company,” said AJFF Executive Director Tom McGuire.

The quilt is 10 x 7 foot textile with 15 panels depicting images related to the Grass Roots Opera and the National Opera Company, both founded by Fletcher. The images cover both organizations’ 53 years of opera performance.

Last year the AJFF merged the National Opera Company with the North Carolina School of the Arts to form the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute as a means of sustaining Fletcher’s legacy.

Fabric from some of the original opera costumes was used in the quilt.

The Opera Quilt:
(Left to right, from top to bottom)

  1. “Carmen”
  2. “Amahl and the Night Visitors”
  3. “The Barber of Seville”
  4. “Madama Butterfly”
  5. “La Boheme”
  6. “Hansel and Gretel”
  7. “Il Pagliacci”
  8. Large portrait of A.J. Fletcher, taken from a favorite portrait of him in costume as Don Alfonso of “Cosi Fan Tutti”.
  9. The white house on the corner of Hillsborough and Morgan Streets, where the opera company was housed for 53 years.
  10. “Elixir of Love”
  11. “Daughter of the Regiment”
  12. “Cinderella”
  13. “Die Fledermaus”
  14. The logo from the National Opera Company.
  15. “Martha”, A.J. Fletcher’s favorite opera.

The borders contain oak leaves, to represent Raleigh, North Carolina, “The City of Oaks.”

A.J. Fletcher Opera Quilt
View other scenes from the quilt enlarged: Madame Butterfly, Il Pagliacci, Carmen & the signature on the quilt.

Amy Stewart Winsor specializes in pictorial quilts, with characters made out of tiny pieces of fabric, embellished with beads and ribbon details. She enjoys portraying scenes that are meaningful to her. One of her earlier quilts, “Book of Mormon Stories” was juried into the International Fine Art Exhibit at the Church Museum of History and Art in Salt Lake City, where it hung for six months in 2000. Another quilt, “In the Beginning”, consists of scenes from the book of Genesis in the Bible. Included are the six days of creation, and Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Over twenty-five of her art quilts will be featured in a solo exhibit entitled, “Color My World: The Art Quilts of Amy Stewart Winsor”. It will be held in the Semans Gallery at the Durham Arts Council, April 4-May 11, 2003. The artist’s reception will be April 10, 5-7 pm.

CALENDAR ITEM: North Carolina Durham “Color My World: The Art Quilts of Amy Stewart Winsor”, Semans Gallery at the Durham Arts Council, 120 Morris Street, April 4-May 11, 2003. Artist’s reception April 10, 5-7 pm. (DAC: 919- 560- 2719, http://WinsorArtQuilts.8M.com or www.durhamarts.org).

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