Be a part of a combined professional training and performing program that takes place in Pittsburgh for a minimum of four weeks and a maximum of six weeks (depending on casting) from June 12 – July 23, 2017, as part of Pittsburgh Festival Opera’s summer festival activities.

It is intended for Resident, Featured, Studio, and Apprentice Artists (singers, pianists and stage directors) with opportunities for solo performance for all participants.


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

This year, we are encouraging African-American singers to apply and are reserving four spots for singers with musical theater and dance training.


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
Generally, we work hard to cast Resident, Featured, and Studio Artists (known collectively as Young 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.

Application information
The application fee of $65 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 2017 season, we will audition in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Boston, Ann Arbor, Los Angeles, and New York City, mostly over weekends, from November 6 - December 3, 2016. (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


12 June–23 July 2017
(Some singers may start earlier depending on which roles and pieces they are cast in)

Up to four 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 between the ages of 22 and 35. Each will receive a full scholarship. No fees are payable for artists admitted to the program in this category, however Resident Artist Singers are expected to submit a $500 deposit for their participation in SummerFest, which will be returned to them once they have completed the program. The duration of residency in Pittsburgh will be from 12 June or earlier, depending on which roles and pieces singers are cast in, through 23 July.

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

There will be 5-6 openings for Resident Artist Pianists. Each will receive a full scholarship, and will receive additional payments for accompanying services outside mainstage rehearsals. Pianists will work alongside world-class conductors and coaches in rehearsals and training sessions. The duration of residency in Pittsburgh will be from 12 June or earlier, depending on which pieces pianists are assigned to, through 23 July.

Stage Directors
There will be 4 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. The duration of residency in Pittsburgh will be from 12 June or earlier, depending on which pieces directors are assigned to, through 23 July.

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


19 June–23 July 2017
(for most participants)

Up to 24 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. Residency in Pittsburgh will likely be from 19 June through 23 July. Studio Artists pay $1,750 towards tuition fees; they may supply their own accommodation or pay an additional $500 for accommodation supplied by PFO.


11 June–26 July 2017
(for most participants)

Up to 4 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.


Roles and Casting Policy

2017 Season Mainstage repertoire includes

Intermezzo Richard Strauss Most roles and all understudies available to YAPs
Xerxes George F. Handel Most roles and all understudies available to YAPs
Sweeney Todd Stephen Sondheim   Most roles and all understudies available to YAPs
A Gathering of Sons *   Dwayne Fulton Most roles and all understudies available to YAPs


* World premiere! Multiple substantial roles available to African-American singers. This opera will be based around themes of Social Justice. Roles will include both classical singing and some gospel crossover. 

Additional opportunities expected to include:
A Rodgers and Hammerstein concert and an evening of Mozart scenes performed under the stars in a beautiful private garden.

...with even more recitals, masterclasses, and cabarets to come!

PFO takes great pleasure in casting Young Artists in solo activities as much as possible. In our 2016 festival for instance, all Young Professional Artists were cast not just as understudies for all roles in all productions, but also as soloists for 70% 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 Master Classes

  • Marianne Cornetti
  • Robert Croan
  • Jane Eaglen
  • Timothy LeFebvre
  • Mildred Miller Posvar
  • Eugene Perry
  • Melanie Sonnenberg
  • Maria Spacagna

Past Voice Faculty

  • Mildred Miller Posvar, (company founder), mezzo, 25 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 Company of 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

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

Stagecraft training and business seminar lecturers

  • 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
  • Mark Lamanna


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 and deadlines are listed, varying by audition location. 

Applications for PFO's 2017 summer season and The Mildred Miller International Voice Competition are separate (and both are available through YAPtracker).

YAP auditions are self-scheduled on YapTracker. Recorded auditions are now being accepted!

The application fee of $65 guarantees a live audition or interview as long as audition slots are available. Recorded auditions are also accepted with a $50 fee.

Should slots appear full, check back periodically on Yap Tracker 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.

, PA
Sunday, November 6th-Tuesday, November 8th: Pittsburgh Festival Opera, Stephen Foster Center (Third Floor), 286 Main St., Pittsburgh, PA 15201
Deadline to apply: Tuesday, November 1st

, OH
Sunday, November 6th, 12-6pm; Patricia Corbett Theatre, College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221-0003
Deadline to apply: Tuesday, November 1st

New York, NY
Friday, November 11th-Monday, November 14th; Room 984 (Monday only: Room 1102), The Steinhardt School, NYU Dept. of Music and Performing Arts, 35 West 4th St., New York, NY 10012

Deadline to apply: Friday, November 4th

Boston, MA
Sunday, November 20th, 10am-6pm; Room 118, Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory, 290 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115 
Deadline to apply: Tuesday, November 15th 

Ann Arbor, MI
Friday, December 2nd. 4:30-7:00pm; McIntosh Theater, Earl V. Moore Building, University of Michigan, 1100 Baits Dr, Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Deadline to apply: Tuesday, November 29th

Los Angeles, CA
Saturday, December 3rd, 11am-2pm; Schoenfeld Symphonic Hall, University of Southern California, 840 W 34th St, Los Angeles, CA 90089
Deadline to apply: Tuesday, November 29th

, PA
Saturday, December 3rd, 3-5pm; Pittsburgh Festival Opera, Stephen Foster Center (Third Floor), 286 Main St., Pittsburgh, PA 15201

Deadline to apply: Thursday, December 1st

Pittsburgh, PA
by appointment
Deadline to apply: Thursday, December 1st

Recorded Auditions
For singers only. Submitted via YAPTracker.
Deadline to apply: Thursday, December 1st

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

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.

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.

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.