Pittsburgh's classical summer is coming together

Written by Elizabeth Bloom on .

Pittsburgh's summertime classical music/opera offerings are starting to take shape. 

pnme0710EPercussionist Ian Rosenbaum performs George Crumb's "Idyll for the Misbegotten" with the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble. (Credit: PNME)

Opera Theater of Pittsburgh is on the move once again. The 38-year-old opera company, which has resided in Oakland's Twentieth Century Club since 2013, will migrate to Winchester Thurston School in Shadyside.

The company's annual SummerFest runs from mid-June to July 24 and features the following main stage productions:

"Carmen the Gypsy" is the company's adaptation of Bizet's beloved opera, last produced in 2012. This production features Kara Cornell in the title role, James Flora as Don José and Christopher Scott as Escamillo. It is directed by Jonathan Eaton and conducted by music director Robert Frankenberry. The company says this opera will go on tour at various venues, "ranging from a hookah bar to a horse barn, plus one performance at the Falk Auditorium, Winchester Thurston School." More info on that front TBA. 

Cole Porter's "Kiss Me, Kate" will mark the annual musical theater production, which will showcase SummerFest young artist program singers. It's directed by Mark Lamana and conducted by Douglas Levine.

The excellent countertenor Andrey Nemzer will tackle the title role in Handel's "Julius Caesar," with Lara Lynn McGill as Cleopatra. Early music ensemble Chatham Baroque joins the production, directed by Ian Moule and conducted by Walter Morales.

Strauss' "The Silent Woman" ("Die schweigsame Frau"), the third installment in the company's Strauss cycle, features Jeremy Galyon in the lead role. It will be directed by Jonathan Eaton and conducted by Brent McMunn.

As always, the main stage productions are sung in English. In addition, the company will offer a children's opera ("Little Red Riding Hood"), several contemporary mini-operas (so-called "Night Caps"), recitals and more. 

Of the company's move to a new location, artistic and general director Jonathan Eaton said in a press release: "Winchester Thurston School provides a wonderful new setting for expanded SummerFest programming. After five successful seasons, we have outgrown our boots — and we are thrilled to be moving to larger facilities and WT's Falk Auditorium, beautifully renovated by Pittsburgh's premier theater architect, Al Filoni. This is now perhaps the most attractive medium-sized theater in the city."

"The move allows us to rehearse five productions simultaneously and to host an ever more substantial Young Artist Program all on the same campus," he said. "We are so grateful to Winchester Thurston's principal, staff and board of trustees for welcoming us to this splendid facility."

Asked for additional information about the move, marketing director Yvonne Hudson added in an email: "We are able to have more total weeks — about 7 weeks — in one location at Winchester Thurston School. 

"For example, we were previously also rehearsing at Bellefield Auditorium at Pitt as well as Opera Theater's office rehearsal room. 

"With 'Carmen the Gypsy' on tour, we will be able to run all expected operas and the musical over more weeks and be at home in the venue for 3 'public' weeks in addition to about 4 weeks of work at the venue when Young Artists begin arriving on June 13. 

"As the TCC was not able to accommodate our needs on their schedule, it was going to be most efficient for the entire company to be in one venue."

In addition, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble has started to hint at what we can expect from its 41st season (July 8-30). Included among the programs are world premieres by Kevin Puts and Russell Pinkston and solo showcases for PNME percussionist Ian Rosenbaum and composer/percussionist Andy Akiho. There's more to come, to be sure, but for now, the group's spring newsletter will have to do.  

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