SummerFest opens June 29 as new arts festival for Western Pennsylvania

For its next act, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh reinvents itself in its 35th year with SummerFest, a three-week celebration of the performing and visual arts for all ages. This new regional summer music festival fills three weeks with opera sung in English, concerts, recitals, cabaret, visual arts, and the SummerFest Fringe, June 29 –July 15, 2012. The festival takes place in the intimate theaters of The Hillman Center for Performing Arts on the idyllic grounds of Shady Side Academy, just 10 miles from downtown Pittsburgh. SummerFest invites everyone who loves music and theater to step into some of opera’s most beloved works, to experience a suite of witty world premiere music dramas, to discover seldom-performed Mozart masterpieces, and to enjoy an array of free outdoor performances and events.

SummerFest’s opera repertoire includes new mainstage productions of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Bernstein’s Candide, and a sultry flamenco version of Bizet’s Carmen – The Gypsy. These works run in repertory for 11 performances. Highmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield is a proud sponsor of Opera Theater’s production of The Magic Flute.

Jonathan Eaton, entering his 13th season as Opera Theater’s artistic and general director, says: “This is a truly exciting development in Pittsburgh’s cultural scene. Pittsburgh is the only major city in America with a major orchestra that has no substantial summer festival centered around classical music. Opera Theater SummerFest offers audiences in and around Pittsburgh first-class, festive musical and theatrical entertainment at a time when their choices are relatively limited.”

Three mainstage operas and a world-premiere cycle of miniature operas comprise the hub of SummerFest offerings.

The Magic Flute, directed by Jonathan Eaton, brings the sublime enchantment of Mozart’s magical adventure to life. June 29, July 1, 8 and 14, Richard E. Rauh Theater, The Hillman Center for Performing Arts.

Carmen – The Gypsy, a new flamenco adaptation of Bizet’s beloved opera, retells the world’s most fiery love story in the intimate 150-seat Kountz Theater, The Hillman Center for Performing Arts. June 30, July 6, 12 and 14.

Candide, Leonard Bernstein’s musical setting of Voltaire’s classic, follows the travels of the ultimate optimist. July 7, 13 and 15, Rauh E. Rauh Theater, The Hillman Center for Performing Arts. Night Caps, a series of six contemporary and newly-commissioned 15 minute miniature operas, provides grown-up, late-night entertainment to top off the evening. Running July 6-8 and 12-15 in the Kountz Theater, these thoroughly modern minis take place on subsequent nights in Miss Darlington’s hotel, where WQED-FM’s Anna Singer, soprano, stars in the recurring role of the meddling hotel manager. The libretto by Rob Handel, head of Carnegie Mellon University’s dramatic writing program, takes the audience through bedrooms haunted by the ghosts of presidents and perfumed with the memory of love. The composers are a mix of national and international figures – Daron Aric Hagen, Gilda Lyons, Alberto Garcia Demestres – and local artists: Roger Zahab, Eric Moe and Dwayne Fulton. The July 15 performance features all six Night Caps productions in SummerFest’s closing event. The creation of Night Caps is made possible by generous support from OPERA America’ Opera Fund.

Mainstage evening performances begin at 7:30 pm. Matinees—all appropriate for children—take place at 2 pm with The Magic Flute, Sun., July 1 and 8, Carmen – The Gypsy on Sat., July 14, and Candid on Sun., July 15.

The SummerFest Fringe includes free Family Fun Afternoons. Families are invited to the lovely grounds of The Hillman Center for Performing Art for late Saturday afternoon activities, outdoor performances and fun, featuring animals, singers, dancers, magicians and more for kids of all ages. Fabled Table, SummerFest’s official caterer partner, will provide pre-ordered (via and on site picnic fare.

Special events include an exhibition of paintings and art by Mark Mentzer, professor, School of Design, Carnegie Mellon University, June 29-July 15.

Four multi-faceted recitals feature world class and rising stars

Tues., July 10 at 8 pm:  Andrey Nemzer, Winner of the 2012 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and Opera Theater’s 2011 Mildred Miller International Voice Competition, is featured in a concert of Mozart arias for castrato.

Wed., July 11 at 8 pm:  The Pittsburgh Chamber Players (members of the Pittsburgh Symphony) play a program of rarely-performed Mozart chamber music for strings and piano.

Thurs., July 12 at 3 pm:  The Freya String Quartet performs string quintets and trios.

Sat., July 14 at 3 pm: The SummerFest Wind Octet, directed by Eleanor Weingartner, principal clarinetist of the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional, Mexico City, performs Mozart in the lovely Frick Art & Historical Center auditorium.

July 10, 11, and 12 recitals take place at The Hillman Center for Performing Arts.
(See SummerFest season calendar for Mozart in Concert details).

For adult music lovers of all ages, Mozart Camp provides five days of music, workshops, and lectures in an adventure with Amadeus. Two gourmet dinners at the Fox Chapel Golf Club include an evening with the company’s founder Mildred Miller. Participants will attend four Mozart in Concert recitals and other exclusive performances of rarely-performed works, in addition to the closing performance of The Magic Flute on July 14.

The company launches a new Young Artists Program running for six weeks. Local and national young artists will participate in SummerFest programming via rehearsals, performances and special events. Thirty-seven artists from throughout the United States, Korea, China and Argentina are taking part in the program. They include singers, pianists and stage directors.

Named for Opera Theater’s founder, The Mildred Miller International Voice Competition supports emerging professional singers. The 2011 competition first-place winner Andrey Nemzer, countertenor and a Duquesne University student from Moscow, went on to win the Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Auditions and appears in Candide as the “Old Lady” and in The Magic Flute. The company’s 2011 Opera Champion of Pittsburgh, a regional competition for amateur singers, also provides roles to rising stars: tenor William Andrews of Fox Chapel, first place winner, appears in The Magic Flute.

Director Jonathan Eaton is passionate about providing performance opportunities not just to seasoned professionals but also to emerging artists and amateurs: “We want to help keep opera ‘honest’: it is not an ivory tower art form, produced just by professionals for aficionados. It is a real, exciting medium that speaks directly to real people, here and now, you and me, your friends and mine. Opera is for everyone because singing is for everyone – and we are all, somewhere deep down, budding singers. So I say let’s bring ’em out of the showers and onto the stage!”

Patrons may picnic with their own baskets or purchase al fresco fare on the grounds before mainstage events, and then linger for Cabaret Under the Stars featuring SummerFest’s rising stars and other special guests. More information about SummerFest mainstage and Fringe events, tickets, dining options, and free festivities can be found on the company’s website,

About Opera Theater:
Since 1978, Opera Theater has served a diverse market of music drama audiences in Western Pennsylvania. By presenting high-quality productions of music drama not available elsewhere, Opera Theater works at the forefront of the genre. In its 35-year history, Opera Theater has presented more than 20 Pittsburgh premieres, many of them American operas that would not be produced by other regional companies.

Based in the heart of Pittsburgh’s artistically-burgeoning Lawrenceville neighborhood, Opera Theater employs a variety of performers including Pittsburgh-based artists. The company’s education programs develop young talent and cultivate diverse audiences for opera regionally.

Each season, some 11,000 individuals attend the company’s performances and educational events. Recent productions of note include the acclaimed Euridice and Orpheus in Allegheny Cemetery, the first productions of Wagner’s Ring Cycle at the Byham Theater, The Gospel at Colonus at the August Wilson Center, and American classics Carmen Jones and Porgy and Bess.

Opera Theater crosses artistic boundaries to reach younger and wider audiences. Responding to the Pittsburgh cultural market’s demand for diverse cultural experiences, Opera Theater leads in casting productions that mirror the region’s diversity, opening professional and educational doors to all through creative casting and accessible works sung in English. Opera Theater has maintained a tradition of creating art to engage everyone.

Mildred Miller Posvar, Founder, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh

In 1978, mezzo-soprano Mildred Miller Posvar founded the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh as a professional company featuring emerging singers and dedicated to education and audience development. She fashioned the company after Boris Goldovsky’s New England Opera Theater where she performed before beginning her career as a principal artist at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, where Ms. Miller was a featured artist for 23 consecutive seasons. She appeared with every major American opera company and the leading houses of Europe. Ms. Miller has taught at Carnegie Mellon University and conducts master classes throughout the country.

Funders for Opera Theater and SummerFest include:  Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield (Corporate Sponsor for The Magic Flute), Federated Investors, The Henry C. Frick Educational Fund of the Buhl Foundation, The Grable Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, The Pittsburgh Foundation, PNC Charitable Trusts, PNC Foundation, UPMC, and Anonymous, in addition to OPERA America’s support for Night Caps.

See SummerFest season calendar and for details on all events.


For more information, contact:  Yvonne Hudson, or 412-512-0589

Photos and art available upon request.

SummerFest Box Office: 412-326-9687   Buy tickets online:

The Hillman Center for Performing Arts, Shady Side Academy, 423 Fox Chapel Road, Pittsburgh, PA  15238

Opera Theater of Pittsburgh Office:  286 Main Street, Third Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15201.
Phone: 412-621-1499

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