Audio Description volunteer Mary Ann Graziano describes the action for visually-disabled opera-goers.
Volunteering at Pittsburgh Opera
Because opera includes all the arts, it provides rich opportunities to experience and observe artists of all kinds. Volunteers who give their time and expertise at Pittsburgh Opera learn, while "working in the wings," the amazing amount of effort and skill it takes to produce opera.
Opportunities are available in many areas of the company. During an individual interview, we determine if a volunteer’s interests and skills match Pittsburgh Opera’s needs.
We celebrate our Volunteer Stars with a special dinner each year! Below, you can meet some of our volunteers and see a photo gallery of them in action.
Email Marilyn Michalka Egan, Ph.D., Director of Education, or call her at 412-281-0912, ext. 242 if you are interested in volunteering with Pittsburgh Opera!
Anne Christianson is a PNC Bank retiree, former Pittsburgh Opera chorister, and occasional supernumerary. Some of her tasks include researching and writing handouts, sewing props, adding labels to CDs, and filing in the Artistic and Development Departments.
Lili Cai recently graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in piano performance and plans to earn a master’s degree in collaborative piano. In addition to binding numerous Coro scores for the Music Department, Lili has worked on PowerPoints for Education Workshops and assembled mailings for the Development Department.
Maureen Cirocco and Fred Guerriero
Maureen Cirocco and Fred Guerriero
Maureen Cirocco, retiree from the Heinz food factory, and Fred Guerriero, retiree from the Social Security Administration, love hands-on tasks. Among their many projects are cleaning and maintaining opera trunks, sorting and filing library materials, and assembling mailings. Look around the opera headquarters at the framed production photos and you may see their fingerprints on the glass!
Sarah Powell, an Ithaca College senior majoring in Theater and Dramaturgy, specialized in research and writing projects. She created workshop handouts for all six operas of the 2018-2019 season. Her well-crafted fact sheets for afterWARds and Glory Denied are concise resources that are valuable for staff and for teachers. For Hansel & Gretel, Sarah thoroughly researched Engelbert Humperdinck’s life in order to compile an appealing three-page biography, including references for further exploration. In order to create articles for the Doctor Atomic and Glory Denied Study Guides, she needed to research the operas comprehensively and summarize vast amounts of material into concise, engaging descriptions. Sarah’s most valued and appreciated project is what we’ve called “deep mining”—research summaries and little-known facts about the operas that will enhance the Workshops for Educators and the Osher course.
Elise Reichenfeld, an Indiana University of Pennsylvania freshman majoring in Music Education, specialized in educational activities around Multiple Intelligence theory and social media. Her projects ranged from preparing one-page handouts, such as “Some Activities for Reaching Multiple Intelligences with La bohème” to designing an extensive resource of classroom activities for the Hansel & Gretel Student Matinee—the Arts Event Discovery Packet. In order to craft the handouts, she needed to research the operas extensively, but also learn related skills. She taught herself how to read and write Braille. She read and digested Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory. She familiarized herself with all Pennsylvania Academic Content Standards. She selected her projects thoughtfully and worked diligently on them, while putting her personal stamp on each page. For example, she modified one activity for the Hansel & Gretel Arts Event Discovery Packet to reflect healthy eating habits, and updated another to mirror how students currently use social media.
Jacob Wei, a Cleveland Institute of Music sophomore majoring in vocal performance, specialized in writing projects that dealt with opera libretti and music description. His projects ranged from typing and formatting a five-page “Scenes for Classroom Presentation for Madama Butterfly” to designing an extremely complex and multifaceted “What to Listen For in afterWARds.” In order to craft the handouts, he needed to study how libretti are created, analyze the operas in order to choose appropriate excerpts, and organize a large task into manageable parts. He learned how to insert diacritical marks in Italian. He compared a Mozart opera (Idomeneo) to a reduced version by David Paul with cuts and alterations (afterWARds). He listened to an Idomeneo recording extensively and developed skills in describing music to non-musicians. Jacob’s well-written biographies of John Adams and Peter Sellars, used in the Doctor Atomic Study Guide, travelled to Santa Fe on a Pittsburgh Opera board member trip.