Artists interested in being part of a combined professional training and performing program are invited to apply for our Young Professional Artists Program that takes place in Pittsburgh as part of Pittsburgh Festival Opera’s 2018 summer festival activities. Pittsburgh Festival Opera is chiefly a professional company, though we are proud to make the education of emerging professional singers a large part of what we do.

Snuggery Farm performance

The program, which runs from 11 June–22 July 2018, is intended for Resident, Featured, Studio, and Apprentice Artists (singers, pianists and stage directors) with opportunities for solo performance with orchestra for all participants.




The application period has now closed. Check back in September 2018 for the 2019 Program application. 


Interested in learning more about The Mastersinger Project for Young Dramatic Voices? Learn more here.



A Brief Overview

Our Young Professional Artists program is divided into four categories, each of which has different fee structures and varying starting dates:

  • Resident Artist Program
  • Featured Artist Program
  • Studio Artist Program
  • Apprentice Artist Program
  • Master Singer Project, learn more here


This is the first time I have felt completely supported as an artist and human being simultaneously. Bravi tutti to everyone for treating us as colleagues, but also nurturing us in the areas we need to grow.
Studio Artist


Solo Roles
We work hard to cast Resident, Featured, and Studio Artists (known collectively as Young Professional Artists) in as many appropriate solo roles as possible, as well as in all cover roles. Most Young Professional Artists also sing in the ensembles in mainstage productions.

The program will have a strong training element, and artists will work with world-class singers, directors, conductors, coaches, and choreographers both in production rehearsals and in training sessions, which will include individual and group vocal and repertoire coaching, masterclasses, auditioning classes and career seminars.

Pittsburgh Festival Opera is able to provide housing free of charge to Resident Artists only. Featured and Studio Artists may choose to supply their own housing or pay $500 for Pittsburgh Festival Opera to place them in a dormitory or home-stay situation.

Food and transportation
Each artist is responsible for his/her own food and for transportation to and from Pittsburgh. When necessary, once in Pittsburgh, very limited local transportation will be supplied by Pittsburgh Festival Opera. Therefore, all Artists are very strongly encouraged to bring their own cars. There is plenty of parking.

Application information
The application fee of $50 guarantees an audition or interview for Pittsburgh Festival Opera until audition slots are filled and the respective audition time and location are crossed out on the YapTracker application. You can schedule your audition time yourself through YapTracker; check back periodically to see if additional slots open up. Auditions submitted via recording will be equally considered.

Audition cities
For the 2018 season, we will audition in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Boston, Ann Arbor, Los Angeles, Denton, and New York City, mostly over weekends, from November 5 - December 9, 2017. (See dates below.)

What a marvelous experience this has been. I must extend my deepest and most heartfelt gratitude… you have assembled a fine, fine group of musicians here, an excellent staff, and an overall amazing performance and learning experience. Thank you so much for everything. I have had a most memorable experience, and I hope to work with you again in the future.
Jesse Leong, Resident Artist Pianist





Resident Artist Singers
Resident Artist Singers will be chosen to perform major solo roles in the mainstage festival productions, understudy major roles, and participate in all training opportunities. This category is designed for emerging professionals who will soon be ready to enter a majot year-round young artist program. Each will receive a full scholarship. 

Marianne Cornetti Resident Artist Scholarship
Up to four singers will be the recipient of this scholarship in honor of internationally known mezzo-soprano Marianne Cornetti.

William and Marjorie Cadwallader Resident Artist Scholarship
Two Resident Artist positions are reserved for soprani exhibiting outstanding artistry and the potential for a major singing career.

Resident Artist Pianists
There will be 5-6 openings for Resident Artist Pianists. Each will receive a full scholarship, and will receive additional payment for accompanying services outside mainstage rehearsals. Pianists will work alongside world-class conductors and coaches in rehearsals and training sessions. 

Resident Artist Stage Directors
There will be 3 places for Resident Artist Stage Directors. Each will receive a full scholarship and work closely as Assistant Directors on mainstage productions. As well as assisting on a mainstage production, directors will be assigned their own smaller projects to direct.

This is an excellent program for young directors interested in learning the craft of opera directing. Not only did it teach me how to direct, it taught me the skill set I needed to be an assistant director for a large company.
David Toro, former RAP stage director


Studio Artist Singers will be chosen to participate in the training program and perform in the ensemble with the possibility to perform appropriate roles and understudy roles.

This program is designed for pre-professional and emerging professional singers between the ages of 18 and 35. Studio Artists pay $1,750 towards tuition fees; they may supply their own accommodation or pay an additional $500 for accommodation supplied by PFO.


Apprentice Artist Singers will participate in the training program without charge, and in return will work for the festival in varying capacities ranging from driving artists to and from rehearsals to assisting backstage or front of house as required. Apprentice Artists are expected to have their own cars and accommodations in Pittsburgh: it is therefore an ideal opportunity for young, local Pittsburgh-area singers.


Tuition Comparison

Pittsburgh Fesitval Opera's tuition is vastly lower that other summer programs, without compromising experience and exposure, all while spending your summer in a vibrant city full of arts and culture. 

Pittsburgh Festival Opera Resident Artist  $0.00 in total fees
Pittsburgh Festival Opera Featured Artist  $1,250 in total fees
Pittsburgh Festival Opera Studio Artist  $2,250 in total fees
Miami Summer Music Festival $4,550 in total fees X
Brevard Music Fesitval $6,800 in total fees X
Aspen Opera Theater $8,200 in total fees X


Roles and Casting Policy

2018 Season Mainstage repertoire* includes

Arabella Richard Strauss Some roles and all understudies available to Young Professional Artists
La bohème Giacomo Puccini           Most roles and all understudies available to Young Professional Artists
Rhinegold Richard Wagner   Some understudies available to Young Professional Artists

We expect a significant number of roles—including lead roles— in La bohème to be cast with Young Professional Artists.

Additional opportunities expected to include: Recitals, weekly masterclasses, and more!
*Note: Repertoire subject to change. One Touch of Venus is no longer being performed. 


PFO takes great pleasure in casting Young Professional Artists in solo activities as much as possible. In our 2017 festival for instance, all Young Professional Artists were cast not just as understudies for all roles in all productions, but also as soloists for 65% of those roles.

Thank you for seeing my potential and taking a chance on me, It has been such an honor to work on this magnificent Strauss project and it has been such a gift to get to grow as an artist over three summers with the festival.
Julia Fox, former Young Artist



Past Voice Faculty

  • Mildred Miller Posvar, (company founder), mezzo, 23 years at the Metropolitan Opera
  • Robert Chafin, tenor, Royal Opera Covent Garden, Salzburg Festival, Deutsche Oper Berlin
  • Demareus Cooper, soprano, Pittsburgh Festival Opera, Long Beach Opera
  • Jeremy Galyon, bass, Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera
  • Dimitrie Lazich, baritone, Opera Philadelphia, Staatsoper Stuttgart
  • Milutin Lazich, bass-baritone, Pittsburgh Festival Opera; Professor, Clarion University
  • Craig Priebe, baritone, New York City Opera, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
  • Anna Singer, soprano, New York City Opera, Virginia Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, New Bulgarian Opera
  • Laura Knoop Very, soprano, Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera
  • Daniel Teadt, baritone, New York City Opera, San Francisco Opera, Arizona Opera, Pittsburgh Opera
  • Raymond Very, tenor, Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera Covent Garden, Hamburg State Opera, Bavarian State Opera
  • Blythe Walker, soprano, Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Boston Lyric Opera
  • Andrew Cummings, baritone, Atlanta Opera, Opera in the Heights

Past Repertoire coaches

  • Brent McMunn, conductor, New York City Opera, Arizona Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Opera Music Director Thornton School of Music USC
  • Robert Frankenberry, Music Director, Pittsburgh Festival Opera
  • Bernard McDonald, conductor, Glyndebourne, New York City Opera, Florida Grand Opera
  • Hyery Hwang, Principal Coach, Pittsburgh Festival Opera
  • Doug Levine, conductor, Musical Theater coach

Past Stagecraft coaches

  • Jonathan Eaton, Artistic Director, Pittsburgh Festival Opera; NYC Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Spoleto Festival; Royal Opera Covent Garden
  • Daniel Rigazzi, Metropolitan Opera directing staff
  • Tome' Cousin, Broadway veteran, choreographer, director
  • Scott Wise, Pittsburgh Playhouse

Past Master Classes

  • Marianne Cornetti
  • Robert Croan
  • Jane Eaglen
  • Timothy LeFebvre
  • Mildred Miller Posvar
  • Eugene Perry
  • Melanie Sonnenberg
  • Maria Spacagna
  • Brian Kontes
  • Raymond Very
  • Hope Koehler
  • Danielle Pastin


Application Process

Please note that the application process varies somewhat for singers, pianists and directors.

All applications must be submitted online (electronic applications only) at (beginning 15 September 2017) and deadlines are listed, varying by audition location. 

Applications for PFO's 2018 summer season and The Mildred Miller International Voice Competition are separate (and both are available through YAPTracker).

Auditions are self-scheduled on YAPTracker. Recorded auditions are now being accepted!

The application fee of $50 guarantees a live audition or interview as long as audition slots are available. Recorded auditions are also accepted with a $45 fee.

Should slots appear full, check back periodically on YAPTracker to see whether additional slots have been opened up. When all of the slots for a particular location are filled, the audition time and location are crossed out on the YAPTracker application. 

One of my favorite musical summers ever was spent this past summer in Pittsburgh with Pittsburgh Festival Opera!
Katie Beck, 2016 Featured Artist


Auditions and Interviews

You may request an audition or interview at any of the following locations, depending on demand. Photo ID is required for entry at all auditions and interviews.

Please note that some audition dates and/or times may become available at a later date. Recorded auditions will also be accepted.

  • Cincinnati
, OH
    Sunday, November 5th, 12-6pm
    Werner Recital Hall, College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221
    Deadline to apply: November 1st
  • Denton, TX
    Saturday, November 11th, 2-5pm
    Room 232, University of North Texas College of Music, 415 Avenue C, Denton, TX 76201 Deadline to apply: November 5th
  • Ann Arbor, MI
    Saturday, November 18th, afternoon and evening
    Cady Room,  Stearns Building, University of Michigan, 2005 Baits Dr, Ann Arbor, MI 48109
    Deadline to apply: Sunday, November 12th
  • New York, NY
    Friday, December 1st, 6:45-10pm; Saturday, December 2nd, 10am-6pm; Sunday, December 3rd
    Room 984, The Steinhardt School, NYU Dept. of Music and Performing Arts, 35 West 4th St., New York, NY 10012

    Deadline to apply: November 24th
  • New York, NY
    Monday, December 4th, 10am-1pm
    Studio 706, Opera America, 330 7th Avenue, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10001

    Deadline to apply: November 24th
  • New York, NY—FULL!
    Monday, December 4th, 6:45-10pm
    Room 1101, The Steinhardt School, NYU Dept. of Music and Performing Arts, 35 West 4th St., New York, NY 10012

    Deadline to apply: November 24th
  • Los Angeles, CA
    Saturday, December 2nd
    Schoenfeld Symphonic Hall, University of Southern California, 840 W 34th St, Los Angeles, CA 90089
    Deadline to apply: Sunday, November 26th
  • Boston, MA
    Friday, December 8th, afternoon and evening
    Room 118, Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory, 290 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115 
    Deadline to apply: Friday, December 1st
  • Pittsburgh
, PA
    Friday, December 8th, 7-9pm Saturday, December 9th, 3-6pm
    Pittsburgh Festival Opera, Stephen Foster Center (Third Floor), 286 Main St., Pittsburgh, PA 15201
    Deadline to apply: Friday, December 1st

Recorded Auditions
For singers only, following the repertoire requirements below. Submitted via YAPTracker.
Deadline to apply: Friday December 1st, 2017

Pianists Auditions
You will be contacted directly once you apply and offered an audition on the dates in the cities above, or at other times to be determined.

Stage Directors Interviews
You will be contacted directly once you apply and offered an interview on the dates in the cities above, or at other times to be determined via Skype.

Directors should bring any portfolios they have with photographs or DVDs of productions directed and be prepared to talk about the concepts underlying their design and production choices. Digital portfolios are also accepted. 

Singers and Pianists Audition Repertoire
Each singer should bring 3 contrasting arias, one of which must be in English. Each candidate will begin with the aria of his/her choice. The next selection(s) will be chosen by the PFO representative. An accompanist will be provided at each audition, although candidates are free to bring their own. All audition slots will be 8-10 minutes. Singers are encouraged to act out and perform as fully as possible all of their choices: please feel free to move about the room, not stay rooted to the piano, and convince us of your acting ability as much as of your singing ability and musicianship! Repertoire requirements for recorded auditions are the same as live auditions.

Each pianist should bring 2 contrasting opera accompaniments and 1 solo repertoire piece. Pianists should be prepared to sight-read and also to sing out (loudly!) some vocal lines while playing. 

Meet Rob Chafin, Director of the Young Professional Artists Program

Rob Chafin

Robert Chafin has established himself as one of the finest young helden-tenors on the international stage. A native of Virginia, his recent performances as Menelas in Die Ägyptische Helena at the Deutsche Oper Berlin recieved wide critical acclaim. Chafin has over 60 operas in his repertoire.  He began his career with the major roles of Mozart and Rossini, and has expanded his range to include such roles as Apollo in Daphne, Max in Der Freischütz, Erik in Der Fliegende Holländer, Midas in Die Liebe der Danae, Enée in Les Troyens, Don José in Carmen as well as Laca in Jenufa and the title role in Les Contes d’Hoffmann.

In these and other roles, Chafin has guested in New York (NYCO), Stockholm, London (ROH), Vienna, Frankfurt, Strasbourg, Berlin (Deutsche Oper), Leipzig, Brussels, Toulouse and Luxemburg, among others. International acclaim for his interpretation of Franz Schreker's Flammen and Christophorus show his versatility and  flexibility. As described in Opera News: “Menelas, like so many Strauss tenor roles, is a punishing and thankless part, yet Robert Chafin...gave the Spartan king a vocally convincing and dramatically compelling performance that cut through the thicket of female voices: his work was so brazen that he not only held his own, but seemed to be waging war against Strauss's disdain for the male voice.

Mr. Chafin has been a frequent soloist with orchestras and leading choral ensembles throughout Europe and America. He has worked with such conductors as Donald Runnicles, Riccardo Muti, Fréderic Chaslin, Markus Stenz, Michel Plasson, Gary Bertini, Nicolas Geogeghan, Stefan Anton Reck, Edo de Waart, Renée Jacobs, Eve Queler and Leon Botstein. Highlights include his Carnegie Hall debut as Goffredo Armida by Rossini with Opera Orchestra of New York, performing as featured soloist in the Paris opening of the Schubertiade  at the Theatre des Champs - Élyseés with the Stuttgarter Kammerchor, making his Belgian debut in the Flanders' Festival (Rodrigo Rossini's Otello), and working with maestro Alberto Zedda at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam as Tebaldo in Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi.

Mr. Chafin was featured as Dionysos in the Vara-Radio broadcast of Henze’s Die Bassariden, a Holland Premiere with Markus Stenz conducting. His recordings include Stravinsky's In Memoriam Dylan Thomas and Hindemith's Das Unaufhörliche for both radio and television (in a live recording at the Alte Oper in Frankfurt, maestro Dimitri Kitajenko), as well as the operas Flammen, Christophorus by Franz Schreker, and Midas in Die Liebe der Danae by Richard Strauss.  A CD of a concert performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide at the Berlin Philharmonie is also available.

Additional role debuts include the title role Don Carlos for Staatsoper Hannover, his Covent Garden (ROH) and Salzburg Festival debut with Ricardo Muti in Die Zauberflöte and the title role in Les Contes d'Hoffmann for Wiesbaden Staatsoper. In 2012, Chafin sang in the American premiere of Franz Schmidt's The Hunchback of Notre Dame with Leon Botstein conducting the American Symphony Orchestra and will be singing Alfred in Die Fledermaus with Opera on the James in Virginia. A scenic presentation of Die schöne Müllerin is planned along with recitals through out the United States in 2013.