Pittsburgh Opera reschedules, revises its 82nd Season, and announces its 83rd
In response to on-going COVID-19 uncertainty and concerns, Pittsburgh Opera is modifying its 2020-21 season, the company’s 82nd. Rather than perform six operas at a total of four different venues, the season will consist of four operas all at the same location.
The four operas of the 2020-21 season will all be performed in the George R. White Opera Studio (“the GRW”) at Pittsburgh Opera’s headquarters at 2425 Liberty Avenue in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. Each of the four operas are currently scheduled for six performances. They are:
- Così fan tutte - New Addition; October 17, 20, 23, 25, 27, 29, 2020
- Soldier Songs - previously announced for four performances from Feb. 20-28, 2021, now six performances December 5, 8, 11, 13, 15, 17, 2020
- Semele - New Addition; February 20, 23, 26, 28, March 2, 4, 2021
- Charlie Parker’s Yardbird, previously announced for four performances at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center from May 8 -16, 2021, now six performances at Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters April 10, 13, 16, 18, 20, 22, 2021
The GRW normally seats 195 patrons. In keeping with social distancing best practices, the seating will be reconfigured to accommodate far fewer patrons based on the prevailing guidelines for gatherings at the time of the performances. In addition, Pittsburgh Opera will follow enhanced safety protocols such as conducting temperature checks for all patrons, artists, and staff; requiring patrons and staff to wear masks; professional cleaning of the Studio after every performance; strict and structured audience traffic flows; social distance seating; and more. At least one performance of each production will be Livestreamed so that people who are unable to obtain tickets will still be able to experience it.
Given the date and venue changes, all patrons who have already purchased tickets to Soldier Songs and Charlie Parker’s Yardbird may exchange their tickets for any available production in the newly-constituted 2020-21 season. Pittsburgh Opera will be contacting all current ticketholders beginning the week of August 3rd to discuss what options will be most satisfying to them. Single and group tickets are expected to go on sale to the general public in late August, subject to availability.
The remaining four operas from Pittsburgh Opera’s originally-planned 2020-21 season are being rescheduled.
- Rusalka, The Magic Flute, and Emmeline are being postponed to Pittsburgh Opera’s 2021-22 season, where they will join rescheduled performances of Carmen (whose March 2020 performances were canceled because of COVID-19) and the world premiere of In A Grove, which has music by Christopher Cerrone and a libretto by Stephanie Fleischmann based on the short story by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa.
- Aida, originally slated for March of 2021, is being tentatively planned for March, 2023.
Previously-purchased tickets for Rusalka, The Magic Flute, and Emmeline are still valid for their new performance dates. Previously-purchased tickets for Aida can be converted to Carmen tickets or used for any other performance.
Any current ticketholder to any performance who wishes to exchange their tickets free of charge for another performance, or would like a refund, or is unable to attend and would like to donate the value of their ticket to Pittsburgh Opera, may do so. Pittsburgh Opera will be contacting all ticketholders beginning the week of August 3rd to discuss what options will be most satisfying to them.
Pittsburgh Opera’s 2021-22 season, the company’s 83rd, is currently planned to be:
- Rusalka – originally October 10-18, 2020, rescheduled for October 9, 12, 15, 17, 2021, at the Benedum Center
- The Magic Flute – originally Nov. 7-15, 2020, rescheduled for Nov. 6, 9, 12, 14, 2021, at the Benedum Center
- Emmeline – originally January 23-31, 2021, rescheduled for January 22, 25, 28, 30, 2022, at the Pittsburgh CAPA School Theater
- The world premiere of In A Grove, February 19, 22, 25, 27, 2022, at Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters
- Carmen – March 26, 29, April 1, 3, 2022, at the Benedum Center
Tickets for Pittsburgh Opera’s 2021-22 season are currently available by subscription only. Patrons may call 412-281-0912 ext. 3, or visit pittsburghopera.org/subscribe to subscribe. For information about group ticket services and discounts, contact Regina Connolly at (412) 281-0912, ext. 213 or via email. Individual and group tickets for the 2021-22 season are expected to go on sale in the summer of 2021.
“We are tremendously fortunate to have a first-class performance space in our own building, geared toward intimate performances for smaller audiences. Although we are working under extraordinary conditions, we are determined to maintain live opera for our Pittsburgh community,” says Pittsburgh Opera General Director Christopher Hahn.
Explaining the reasons for the changes, Hahn continued “At this time, even an optimistic scenario could have mass gatherings this fall and next spring in Allegheny County limited to 250 people. It just doesn’t make sense to perform in the 2,800-seat Benedum Center if we can only have 250 people in the building. In addition, we need to ensure the safety of our artists and everyone else involved with our productions. Currently it is impractical to put 70 musicians into the Benedum’s orchestra pit. We hope to return to large venues for our 2021-22 season as part of whatever the ‘new normal’ ends up being. In the meantime, we are looking forward to welcoming audiences to our own building for a series of safe, intense and intimate experiences.”
Pittsburgh Opera will continue to produce other events at its headquarters in 2020-21. Pittsburgh Opera will follow the prevailing guidelines for gatherings at the time of each event, but expects seating will be limited and by reservation only; the events will be Livestreamed. Events are expected to include, but not be limited to:
- The annual Rising Stars concert, which introduces the seasons’ class of Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artists, is currently scheduled for September 20, 2020.
- The popular Brown Bag concerts, which are free monthly concerts featuring Pittsburgh Opera’s Resident Artists. The concerts are generously supported by DTE Midstream, with Natural Awakenings Magazine as the official media sponsor.
- The informative Opera Up Close events, hosted by Pittsburgh Opera Artistic Administrator Rob Boldin and featuring cast members, conductors, stage directors, and other special guests involved in the production, and which take place in the weeks leading up to each opera.
Pittsburgh Opera Board Chair Michele Fabrizi notes “Although we are saddened to not be able to proceed with our season as originally envisioned, this pivot is necessary for all the obvious reasons. It would have been irresponsible to avoid making these decisions. It would be unfair to leave a cloud of uncertainly hanging over our cast members, artistic teams, orchestra and chorus members, stage management personnel, stage hands, and the other hard-working professionals who bring our productions to life, many of whom will now have less work this season than we and they hoped for.”
Fabrizi, who is also a Co-Chair of Pittsburgh Opera’s 80th Anniversary Campaign, adds that with these changes “our ticket revenue for 2020-21 will be less than a tenth of what we were initially expecting. I urge opera lovers and arts-minded community members who are in a position to do so to give generously to our campaign, to help see us through this transition so we can emerge stronger than ever for 2021-22.” Gifts can be made online with just one click at pittsburghopera.org/givenow.