Pittsburgh, PA
March 13, 2017
Chris Cox, Director of Marketing and Communications
Office: 412.281.0912 ext. 217
Mobile: 412.427.7088 or
Contact via email

Download this as a PDF        

Pittsburgh Opera and Carnegie Mellon University present Co-Opera on April 1st

Pittsburgh Opera is again partnering with students, alumni, and faculty from Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Music, School of Drama, and the Master of Arts Management (MAM) Program on the innovative Co-Opera program.

This year-long collaboration culminates with the premieres of three newly-composed operas at Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters on Saturday, April 1st at 7:00 PM. 

Each opera is approximately 20 minutes, with a total evening run time of 75-80 minutes, including a brief pause between each opera. Each will be fully staged and sung in English. They include: 

  • "My Opera Nemesis", a tale of operatic brotherly love, by composer Evan Neely and librettist Mora Harris
  • "The Women on the Wall", a story of the power of art and longing, by composer Jordan Speranzo and librettist Jess Honovich
  • "ID, please", about a border agent interrogating a series of passengers, by composer Soosan Lolavar and librettist Daniel Hirsch

Ironically, Lolavar, the composer of "ID, please", has been in the news recently because of President Donald Trump's controversial immigration bans. Lolavar, who is currently in London, holds dual British/Iranian citizenship. Her ability to re-enter the United States for the premiere of her opera is uncertain. 

Begun in 2015, Co-Opera's purpose is to create new, short operatic works while training the next wave of opera professionals. Composers, librettists, singers, directors, designers and orchestra (from CMU Contemporary Ensemble) are chosen from the students at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Music and School of Drama. In coordination with CMU faculty and staff, Pittsburgh Opera provides professional-level guidance throughout all phases of the process. 

“We live in a golden age of opera creation,” said Pittsburgh Opera General Director Christopher Hahn. “More new operas are being written now than at any time in history. It’s important that we help develop the next generation of opera composers, librettists, producers and singers so that this beautiful art from can thrive for years to come.”

“No one sits down and just writes a 2-hour opera out of the blue”, said Denis Colwell, head of CMU’s School of Music. “These short productions give our students wonderful real-life work experience, and are a foundation they can build upon as they start their careers.”

Adds Peter Cook, head of CMU’s School of Drama, “Just because the operas are short does not mean they aren’t compelling. On the contrary, they explore contemporary issues in easily-digestible chunks.”

“It is gratifying to see the fruits of so much labor by our talented, dedicated students,” says Dan Martin, Dean of CMU’s College of Fine Arts. “This is going to be a wonderful evening, where they get to showcase their artistic creations to the public.”

Co-Opera admission is free and open to the public, but a ticket is required. Capacity is limited. Tickets are available at co-opera.eventbrite.com. A free artist Meet & Greet reception will take place following the performance in the Founders Room of Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters. 

Full cast and artistic team information is below.

My Opera Nemesis

  • Composer: Evan Neely
  • Librettist: Mora Harris
  • Cast: Lindsey Chinn, Sarah Nadler, William Ottow, Michael Protacio

The Women on the Wall

  • Composer: Jordan Speranzo
  • Librettist: Jess Honovich
  • Cast: Emily Hopkins, Virginia Sheffield

ID, please

  • Composer: Soosan Lolavar
  • Librettist: Daniel Hirsch
  • Cast: Guillaume Poudrier, Robert Raso, Shannyn Rinker


  • Co-Producer: Robert Boldin, Pittsburgh Opera
  • Co-Producer: Kevin O’Hora, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Artistic Director / Conductor:  Daniel Nesta Curtis
  • Stage Director: Stephen Eckert
  • Set Designer: Caitlin Ayers
  • Media Designer: Jess Mendenbach
  • Costume Designer: Nina Bova
  • Dean, College of Fine Arts: Dan Martin
  • Head of School of Music: Denis Colwell
  • Head of School of Drama: Peter Cook
  • Asst. Dean Heinz College; Director Masters of Arts Management (MAM)  Program: Kathryn Heideman