Pittsburgh Festival Opera Announces 2020 Season Changes Due to Global Pandemic

Reimagined festival features virtual activities, postponements, healing power of opera

Pittsburgh, Pa. (April 28, 2020) – Dr. Eugene N. Myers, President of the Pittsburgh Festival Opera Board of Directors announces an adjustment to the traditional summer festival due to safety concerns during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, the fundraiser gala, Gathering of the Goddesses, initially planned for June 2020, has been postponed. Originally scheduled for July 11-26, 2020, the festival has been reimagined with new and existing programming to deliver online educational content and a return to live entertainment later in the year.

“Pittsburgh Festival Opera continues to monitor and comply with the latest developments, advice, and orders from our local government and state government,” said Christopher Powell, Executive Director. “Through our new plan, we are guided by our mission to deliver intimate and exciting programming along with world-class experiences for our Young Artists Program. It will certainly look different than any other time in our history, but as opera audiences crave face-to-face human interaction through opera as the ultimate storyteller of the human condition, technology will serve us well this summer. We look forward to the bright future when we will all be together. The immediate need is to keep our audiences and our artists safe by being physically distant at this moment.”


The plan moves two mainstage productions, Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci and Adamo’s Lysistrata into the 2021 summer season and moves the other two mainstage productions, Wagner’s Siegfried and Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods) in Concert and Brown/Lanay’s Virgula Divina, into the fall of 2020.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, I applaud Artistic Director Marianne Cornetti’s innovative and compassionate approach to maintaining the visibility of our opera company in the community during these uncertain times,” added Dr. Myers.

All 2020 Second Stage events are canceled, including Daphne Alderson in Concert, Cameron Barnett’s The Drowning Boy’s Guide to Water, Marianne Cornetti and Jane Eaglen in conversation with WQED’s Jim Cunningham, two Young Artists Program Concerts, and the children’s opera, Rusalka: A Mermaid’s Tale.

More than 150 singers, orchestra, staff, directors, designers, production personnel, interns, and volunteers are the spirit that sustain the artistic vitality of the July festival every year, including members of the Young Artists Program. The typical five-week summer intensive features masterclasses and coaching from world-class opera practitioners, preparation for roles on the mainstage, concert, and recital work culminating in two recitals and a fully staged production. This year, the program will continue as planned under the direction of Robert Frankenberry, but in an online-only format called the OYAP (Online Young Artists Program). Frankenberry and faculty members from every corner of the opera world have designed a curriculum that centers on the development of collaborative performances presented on film and in audio recordings, guided by an experienced television producer and a team of audio and visual consultants.

Artistic Director Marianne Cornetti said, “Simply put, singers, directors, and pianists build and sustain careers through relationships. Nothing teaches us our craft like doing our craft. Opera has no life in a vacuum; it needs to be shared, and singers need to be heard to thrive. Visibility is vital! Through film, recordings, podcast interviews, social media, candid videos, and more, we hope to bring the community along with us in the lives of young artists and lead us into the time when they can meet and interact with the live audience once more.”


All current single ticket holders and subscribers are entitled to a full refund. If preferred, patrons may donate the cost of the ticket back to the company as donations will fuel the opera experiences the community craves after this crisis is over. Ticketholders should email info@pittsburghfestivalopera.org to advise of wishes.

Tickets for Fall 2020 will go on sale in June, pending further guidelines from government officials.


10th Annual Mildred Miller International Voice Competition: September 18 – 20

Alumni winners concert: September 18

Competition semi-finals: September 19

Competition finals and reception: September 20

Wagner’s Siegfried and Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods) in Concert: October 24

Brown/Lanay’s Virgula Divina: November 19, 21, 22


Pittsburgh Festival Opera is dedicated to presenting innovative opera, including American works, reinterpretations of older works, and new works, for the broadest possible audience, focusing on diversity in programming and casting, crossing boundaries and bringing together talents from all the arts, encouraging new talent, and broadening audiences through outreach and education to create a body of work that is original, entertaining, contemporary and relevant.


Contact: Christopher Powell, Executive Director
Pittsburgh Festival Opera