Western Pennsylvania’s New Arts Festival Opens June 29

NEWS for Immediate Release


  • NIGHT CAPS, newly commissioned mini-operas
  • CABARET UNDER THE STARS, late-night jazz and standards
  • MOZART CAMP, five-day program for adult enthusiasts
  • MOZART IN CONCERT, recitals of rarely-performed works featuring The Pittsburgh Chamber Players, the Freya Strings and Andrey Nemzer, award-winning countertenor

PITTSBURGH, PA (June 21, 2012)— Opera Theater of Pittsburgh raises the curtain on SummerFest, a three-week classical music festival new to Western Pennsylvania, on Fri., June 29. SummerFest features opera sung in English, concerts, recitals, cabaret, visual arts and the SummerFest Fringe, June 29–July 15, 2012, at The Hillman Center for Performing Arts, Shady Side Academy, 423 Fox Chapel Road, 15238. Music and theater lovers are invited to step into some beloved works, experience witty world-premiere music dramas and discover seldom-performed masterpieces. Free outdoor fringe performances and other visual and performing arts events add to the festivities.

SummerFest’s opera repertoire includes three new mainstage productions: Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Bernstein’s musical Candide and a sultry flamenco version of Bizet’s Carmen – The Gypsy, in repertory. Highmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield is a sponsor of Opera Theater’s production of The Magic Flute. Guests can enjoy 14 unique Fringe entertainments on the grounds while eating their own picnic or one pre-ordered from Fabled Table (via www.fabledtable.com). After the productions, attendees can listen to Cabaret Under the Stars by SummerFest Young Artists and Night Caps, six mini-operas.

Jonathan Eaton, entering his 13th season as Opera Theater’s artistic and general director, says: “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 at The Hillman Center for Performing Arts.

  • 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.
  • Carmen – The Gypsy, a new flamenco adaptation by Eaton and Robert Frankenberry of Bizet’s beloved opera, intimately retells the world’s most fiery love story. June 30, July 6, 12 and 14.
  • Candide, Leonard Bernstein’s musical setting of Voltaire’s classic, follows the travels of the ultimate optimist. Scott Wise, an assistant professor at Point Park University, directs this production. July 7, 13 and 15.
  • 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. July 6-8 and 12-15. 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 (University of Pittsburgh), Eric Moe (University of Pittsburgh) and Dwayne Fulton (Mt. Ararat Baptist Church). 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’s Opera Fund.

Mainstage evening performances begin at 7:30 pm. Matinees—all appropriate for children—take place at 2 p.m. with The Magic Flute, Sun., July 1 and 8; Carmen – The Gypsy on Sat., July 14; and Candide 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 Arts 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 catering partner, provides pre-ordered (via www.fabledtable.com) 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, and a master class by Jane Eaglen.


During SummerFest’s third and final week, June 10-14, audiences who are mad for Mozart can enjoy Mozart in Concert, four multi-faceted recitals featuring world class and rising stars. Mozart Camp provides five days of music, workshops and lectures in an adventure with Amadeus.

The Company:
SummerFest features a company of over 60 performers in 14 different programs, including 12 students from Shady Side Academy’s middle and lower schools who appear in The Magic Flute. The season is supported by 26 production staff members and 28 orchestra members. Seven composers contributed newly-commissioned music for the six Night Caps.

SummerFest features many new and returning singers. Those from the Greater Pittsburgh area include: Diba Alvi, William Andrews, Amit Chakrabarti, James Critchfield, Shannon Dooley, Joseph Gaines, Kelsey Hayes, Dimitrie Lazich, Anna McTiernan, Gail Novak Mosites, Denise Powell, Daniel Teadt, Kaitlin Very and Ray Very. Kara Cornell (Carmen) is a former student of Opera Theater’s founder, Mildred Miller Posvar. The 12 Shady Side Academy students in SummerFest are Samuel Benning, Gretchen Chalmers, Charles Jackson Coyne, Jack Engel, Rory Engel, Will Engel, Marley Grandizio, Torrey Hill, Kamryn Kasubinski, Hunter Sheehan, Koji Shimada and Stevie Wallace.

Director Jonathan Eaton is passionate about providing performance opportunities not just to seasoned professionals but also to emerging artists and amateurs: “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!”

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.

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.

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 www.otsummerfest.org for details on all events.


For more information, contact: Yvonne Hudson, yhudson@otsummerfest.org or 412-512-0589

Photos and art available upon request.

SummerFest Box Office: 412-326-9687 Buy tickets online: www.otsummerfest.org
Venue: 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

Opera Theater of Pittsburgh
Contact: Yvonne Hudson
yhudson@ot summerfest.org
412-621-1499 or (mobile) 412-512-0589


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