Mission & History
Pittsburgh Opera enriches Pittsburgh and the tri-state area and draws national and international attention to the region by:
- Creating live opera at the highest standards of artistic excellence
- Making opera intellectually and financially accessible to a diverse audience
- Developing young American singers into tomorrow’s artists
- Ensuring the future through responsible fiscal management
Pittsburgh Opera – A History of Excellence
Begun in 1939 as the Pittsburgh Opera Society, Pittsburgh Opera is the eighth oldest company in the United States and draws on a rich legacy of music-making. Among the many luminaries who have sung at Pittsburgh Opera are Luciano Pavarotti, Beverly Sills, Joan Sutherland, Sherrill Milnes, and Stephanie Blythe. The company’s first conductor, Richard Karp of Vienna, led Pittsburgh Opera for nearly 40 years and oversaw the company’s move to Heinz Hall in 1971.
In 1977, Tito Capobianco, a world-famous stage director and prominent figure at New York City Opera, became Pittsburgh Opera’s General Director. Capobianco molded the Opera into an influential national company and a steward of cultural life in Pittsburgh. Under his direction, the Opera established its own orchestra, pioneered the use of supertitles, formed the Resident Artists Program and dramatically increased the regions audience for opera.
Mark Weinstein’s appointment as General Director in 1997 marked another milestone in the company’s growth. Weinstein, also from New York City Opera, pursued rigorous financial management and long-range strategic planning. He increased the company’s assets threefold and cemented the Opera’s reputation as a leader in financial management in the industry.
Weinstein also initiated the Artistic Excellence Project, raising major funds to bring world-class singing and directing talent to Pittsburgh Opera. The 2000-2001 appointments of Christopher Hahn as Artistic Director and John Mauceri as Music Director were the first results of this ambitious project.
In 2008, Christopher Hahn was unanimously appointed General Director and has vigorously upheld Pittsburgh Opera’s high standards of management and artistic excellence, while spearheading the move to Pittsburgh Opera’s new headquarters in the historic George Westinghouse Air Brake Factory at 2425 Liberty Avenue, in Pittsburgh’s Strip District.
The new facility has provided Pittsburgh Opera with the space to house the resources needed to better prepare for performances at the Benedum, while opening up a whole new way for the community to experience all the artistry that is part of opera. In an effort to maintain the Company’s mission to enrich Pittsburgh and the tri-state area, the Opera has committed to the use of sustainable methods in the renovation and maintenance of the new headquarters, obtaining a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Operations and Maintenance Silver Certification in June 2011.
In addition to its mainstage productions, Pittsburgh Opera produces a range of programs to engage and enrich the community with more than 20,000 students, families and educators participating in its educational events annually. The internationally renowned Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist Program is among the country’s top five training centers for rising opera stars and the newly designed administrative and rehearsal space provides for events ranging from free community Brown Bag concerts to concert recitals by world-class opera singers.
Pittsburgh Opera’s long-standing commitment to artistic excellence, responsible financial management and good neighborship will continue to prove a valuable asset to the city of Pittsburgh and the surrounding region for years to come.