March 12, 2019

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Emily Rybinski-Benish, Director of Marketing and Communications
Carnegie Mellon University School of Music
Office: 412-268-4921
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Pittsburgh Opera and Carnegie Mellon University present biennial partnership “Co-Opera” April 13 & 14


Pittsburgh Opera and Carnegie Mellon University are once again joining forces for their innovative Co-Opera Program. Through this program, students, alumni, and faculty from CMU’s School of Music, School of Drama, and the Master of Arts Management (MAM) Program work closely with Pittsburgh Opera to create new works.

This collaboration, which takes place over a two-year time span, culminates with the premieres of three newly composed operas at Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters on Saturday, April 13, at 7 PM and Sunday, April 14, at 5:30 PM. Each opera is approximately 25 minutes, with a total evening run time of approximately 90 minutes, including a brief pause between each opera. Each will be fully staged and sung in English. They are:

Mel Rides the Bus Alone

Mel is a young woman returning home to see a family from whom she has long since drifted away. Filled to the brim with anxiety and boredom, she begins to distract herself by imagining personalities for various passengers. The more she forces the distraction, the more her daydream pushes back – each imaginary person returning to the subject of “home” with increasing insistence. At the heart of the piece is a complex guilt – simultaneously loving your family, but knowing you’re better off apart from them.


In a not-so-distant future, a waste prevention initiative called The Language Machine has been established to cut down the time people spend speaking — but what began as erasure of “umms” and “likes” has become the elimination of almost all communication. Amidst global institution of the initiative, a married couple struggles through their last conversation, and two operators alter their once-successful relationship when they peek inside of the machine.  As language grows less and less and more and more, the two pairs must learn how to navigate the complexities of communication anew. 

Not our First American

An earthquake devastates a small town in southern Mexico. Idealistic and good hearted, Dr. James arrives at its rural clinic to aid a disaster relief effort. However, he soon finds himself out of his depth when confronted with his powerlessness against the chaos, death, and poverty around him. The clinic’s directory Catalina has little patience for Dr. James. Their relationship comes to a head when they have to decide what to do about one patient in particular, whose leg-wound has been infested by maggots.


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 biennial process.

“The first two Co-Opera events were major successes,” said Pittsburgh Opera General Director Christopher Hahn. “We are tremendously excited for this new crop of productions. It’s gratifying to help develop the next generation of opera composers, librettists, producers, and singers. They are the future of our beautiful art form.”

“I am so pleased that our students are able to collaborate on these fresh, new works,” said Dan Martin, Stanley and Marcia Gumberg Dean of Carnegie Mellon’s College of Fine Arts. “I also am very proud of the remarkable performances that come out this partnership among these key areas of study and practice at Carnegie Mellon.” 

“Co-Opera makes it possible for our young artists to experience a nearly fully realized production of their emerging work, a rare opportunity for opera composers and librettists to gain some valuable feedback,” adds Daniel Nesta Curtis, the Artistic Director of Co-Opera and the Music Director of Carnegie Mellon University Contemporary Music Ensemble. “It has the potential to be a stepping stone to life-long careers for these talented and dedicated young men and women.”

Co-Opera admission is free and open to the public, but a ticket is required. Capacity is limited. Tickets are available at A free artist Meet & Greet reception will take place following each of the two performances at Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters.



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