Pittsburgh Opera's leadership is a unique team of administrative, artistic, and musical directors working in collaboration with an experienced board of directors to bring extraordinary opera productions to the Pittsburgh community.
- Christopher Hahn, General Director
- Antony Walker, Music Director
- Debra Bell, Director of Marketing and Communications
- Marilyn Michalka Egan, Ph.D., Director of Education
- John Federico, Director of Development
- Shawn M. Fertitta, Director of Operations and Resident Artist Administrator
- Jennie B. Leghart, Director of Finance
- William J. Powers, Director of Administration and Artistic Operations
- Jerome Sherk, Director of Production
Christopher Hahn was appointed General Director of Pittsburgh Opera in 2008, having served as Artistic Director since 2000. Since then he has significantly enriched the company’s repertoire, introducing Baroque and contemporary operas presented in a variety of production styles. Trained in his native South Africa, Mr. Hahn began his career in opera in 1983 at San Francisco Opera as Rehearsal Administrator. He then managed the San Francisco Opera Center, including the world-renowned Merola Opera Program, the country’s leading training program for American singers. Following his 13-year tenure in San Francisco, he served as Artistic Administrator at Los Angeles Opera with Plácido Domingo and Peter Hemmings. Mr. Hahn’s expertise in recognizing young vocal talent has made him a sought-after juror at American and international vocal competitions, including the Bernstein Competition (Jerusalem), Plácido Domingo’s Operalia Competition, the Francisco Viñas Competition (Barcelona), the McAllister Awards, and the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
Widely recognized as one of the hottest talents in the opera field today, Maestro Walker continues his directorship at Pittsburgh Opera through the 2011-12 season, and makes his Metropolitan Opera debut in Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice in April 2011. In 2010, Mo. Walker debuted at English National Opera in Lucia di Lammermoor, at Canadian Opera Company in Maria Stuarda, and at Santa Fe Opera in Madame Butterfly. Walker currently serves as Artistic Director of the Washington Concert Opera in Washington D.C., co-Artistic Director of Pinchgut Opera in Australia and Music Director of Cantillation and the Orchestra of the Antipodes. He was Chorus Master and Staff Conductor for Welsh National Opera from 1998–2002 and Musical Director of Sydney Philharmonia Choirs from 1992–1997. Since his conducting debut in 1991, Maestro Walker has led nearly 200 operas, large- scale choral and orchestral works and numerous symphonic and chamber works with companies in Europe, North America, and Australia. His extraordinary career includes engagements with Opera Australia, Welsh National Opera, New York City Opera, Teatro Comunale Bologna, Orchestre Colonne (Paris), Cincinnati Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Vancouver Opera, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Sydney Opera House Orchestra.
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Debra Bell brings over 20 years of arts administration experience to the position, having joined Pittsburgh Opera in September 2008. Prior to moving to Pittsburgh, Bell was Marketing Director for the prestigious Glimmerglass Opera, near Cooperstown, New York. Before that, she worked for five years in Marketing and Audience Development at Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, where she created and maintained the noted CSOEncore!, College Nite, and GLBT Night programs. She was co-founder and Managing Director of Words and Music of Beaufort, Inc. and was instrumental in starting the satellite gallery project for the Mississippi Museum of Art. She has worked in the public radio, retail, and publishing industries, and has served as Music Director at several churches. Bell holds a BA in Church Music from Belhaven College, an MA in Arts Administration from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and an MBA from the Lindner College of Business at University of Cincinnati.
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Marilyn Michalka Egan has taught students from pre-school through graduate school how to learn, how to make music, and how to teach. She uses student-centered principles in her teaching to help students experience the joy and motivation of discovering effective ways to learn. Dr. Egan has degrees in Music Education, Theory, and Orff certification from Duquesne University; the Dalcroze Eurhythmics Certificate and License from Carnegie Mellon University; and a Ph.D. in Music Education from Kent State University.
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John Federico, Director of Development, re-joined the staff of Pittsburgh Opera as Director of Development in March 2010, after spending five years in the same capacity at City Theatre, Pittsburgh’s home for new plays. At City Theatre, Federico guided and executed all activities aimed at generating contributed support for the LORT D theatre on the historic South Side, including individual giving, corporate sponsorship and membership, foundation and government grants and special events. Federico’s efforts resulted in the strongest fundraising results for a five-year period in the theatre’s 35 year history. Between 1997 and 2004, Federico was the Associate Director of Development and then Director of Development for Pittsburgh Opera, during which time the opera company successfully completed two major fundraising campaigns, which together resulted in more than $20 million in contributions. Federico received his undergraduate degree from Fordham College of Fordham University and a graduate degree in performing arts management from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York.
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Shawn Fertitta serves as the Director of Operations and Resident Artist Program Administrator. Previously, Ms. Fertitta lived in New York City where she was the Theatre Manager for Circle in the Square Theatre and a company manager for several Broadway productions including Chicago, Proof, Take Me Out, Faith Healer and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Before moving to New York, Ms. Fertitta managed in Nashville at the Grand Ole Opry and on the General Jackson showboat. She has also managed at Opera Roanoke and the Virginia Symphony. Ms. Fertitta holds a Bachelors of Art from Virginia Tech in Arts Management.
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Jennie Leghart joined Pittsburgh Opera in May 2009 after several years with Manchester Bidwell Corporation, as Director of Finance. She has also been the Senior Accounting Manager for Habitat for Humanity International in Americus, GA, Controller for the Institute for Shipboard Education in Pittsburgh, and Operations Manager and Bookkeeper for Pittsburgh Habitat for Humanity. She holds a Master of Business Administration from Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh and a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the Boston Conservatory. Ms. Leghart presides over the annual budget and long-range plan, management of endowment investments, operations risk analysis, and cash flow forecasting, as well as preparation of financial statements and coordinating annual audit.
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William Powers currently serves as Director of Administration and Artistic Operations with Pittsburgh Opera. He has served as Administrative Director for the Juilliard School’s Department of Vocal Arts and the Juilliard Opera Center. He subsequently joined the Metropolitan Opera’s Artistic Department as the Associate Administrator in the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and then served in the Met’s Rehearsal Department. He was previously General Director of the Berkshire Opera Company, and held posts of Production Manager at The Music Academy of the West and the Administrator of the Aspen Opera Theater Center. Mr. Powers has judged for the Metropolitan National Council Auditions and has served on the Board of Directors of OPERA America. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music from Hamilton College and an MBA in Finance from Fordham University’s Graduate School of Business Administration. He is also an alumnus of the Juilliard School’s Professional Intern Program.
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Jerome Sherk joined Pittsburgh Opera in 2007. Mr. Sherk is responsible for the planning, budgeting, and execution of all technical aspects of the mainstage and education programs. Jerome came to the Pittsburgh Opera from the New Orleans Opera Association, where he was also Director of Production. From 2001–2003 Jerome was the Director of Production at the Opera Company of Philadelphia. Prior to OCP, Jerome was the Production Stage Manager for San Francisco Opera for 21 years. Jerome graduated from Manhattan School of Music in 1970 with a Bachelor of Music degree in French horn performance and music theory.