Picture this...another hot summer work week is dragging to a close. With each tick of the clock, your moment of escape creeps closer and closer until finally you are free to leave for the day. As you drive you begin to relax, and then notice the inviting shade of Ellsworth Avenue's mature oak trees as you near the Shadyside campus of Winchester Thurston School. You're met by a welcoming face at the entrance to the parking lot, and directed to a parking space just steps from the door. 

You exit the car and enter one of Pittsburgh's finest educational treasures. A blast of refreshing cool air feels divine. The box office staff have your tickets waiting for you—good thinking to have ordered them online. Now you can step into the lounge and savor a sip of your favorite wine. Feeling a bit hungry? Perhaps an artisanal sandwich or Mediterranean platter would make the perfect accompaniment.

Perhaps you've arranged to meet some friends here this evening. While you await their arrival, you explore a fascinating art exhibit by an up-and-coming local artist. You're drawn again and again to a particular work that you think might look wonderful in your dining room...should you purchase it?

You enter the theater to take your seat, marveling at how intimate this auditorium is—you're so close to the action, you'll be able to catch every nuance of emotion. Perhaps you've never experienced a performance like this—such intimate opera theater.

But this intimate opera theater experience is what we're all about. At Pittsburgh Festival Opera, we revel in the opportunity to bring all of the arts—music, dance, painting, lighting, poetry—together in a way to tell a story so much more powerful than any single form can. We're excited to bring together exceptional artists from all disciplines from all over the globe to create brand new productions to inspire, thrill, and provoke you.

We present new and American works (many of them world premieres), operas of the grand classic variety, and old operas done in new ways. You'll encounter American Broadway classics and ravishing art songs, parties and cabarets, but above all, you'll find great stories told through music.


The Venues

Winchester Thurston School
Winchester Thurston, sometimes colloquially abbreviated WT, is a nationally recognized co-educational independent school in Pittsburgh, PA. Located at 555 Morewood Avenue, the Shadyside school features two buildings: the Lower School, where Falk Auditorium is located, and the Upper School, where the Hilda Willis Room is located. Accessible entrances, along with restrooms and water fountains are available at both locations.

  • Falk Auditorium
    The state-of-the-art theater located inside the Lower School was recently renovated in 2015 by renowned architect Al Filoni, who also led the renovations of Heinz Hall and the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts. Falk Auditorium holds 350 patrons in a single orchestra level and is the primary performance stage for Pittsburgh Festival Opera. With no obstructed views, every seat in the house is a great one! [View the seating chart]

    Two convenient entrances are available: a circular drive on the Ellsworth Avenue side offers a convenient drop-off point, while the entrance from the interior parking lot offers an accessible entrance with no stairs, just steps from your car.
  • Hilda Willis Room
    The intimate space of the Hilda Willis Room seats about 100 patrons, offering an exceptional opera experience. The space can be accessed on the corner of Morewood Avenue and Bayard Street in the Upper School.
  • First Unitarian Church
    The First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh is located directly across the street from Winchester Thurston. At 605 Morewood Ave, the church's resonant sanctuary is the perfect venue for our recitals.


Additional Amenities

A cash bar is open in the lobby of the Falk Auditorium before, during, and after all mainstage performances. Additionally, light bites (sandwiches, fruit and cheese pairings, dessert items, etc.) are available before each mainstage performance, provided by Pittsburgh's exceptional catering company, Fabled Table. Please note: only water is permitted in the theater. Please visit Dining for more information.

Free Parking
Convenient free parking is available in a parking lot within the Winchester Thurston campus, as well on surrounding streets. The Falk Auditorium offers a circular drive for easy drop-off and pick-up of patrons, while the interior parking lot provides accessible spaces and a stairs-free route into the theater. Please see Parking for details and a campus map.

Pre-Curtain Talks
One hour before curtain time for selected performances, artistic staff and performers will present pre-show talks, featuring inside information about the production. These pre-curtain events are free and open to all ticket holders. Please refer to the Pre-Curtain Talks section to determine if your show features one of these talks.

There is no ATM located within Winchester Thurston, but credit/debit cards can be accepted for ticket purchases. Concessions are cash only.

Operas in English
Only at Pittsburgh Festival Opera! The intimate experience offers all operas sung in English and features English subtitles to accompany all mainstage operas.

Childcare Services
For Sunday matinee performances, childcare is available for younger children, provided by state-licensed providers from the Catholic Youth Association. Children will engage in creative play in Winchester Thurston's early childhood education room (just 50 yards from the Falk Auditorium), which offers parents the opportunity for quick check on their children at the intermission. Please see Sunday Matinee Childcare for more information and instructions for reserving a space.

Winchester Thurston School is a completely accessible facility. A level entrance from the parking lot provides access to the theater, lobby, and restrooms. While most activities occur on a single theater level, an elevator is available for patrons who may need to access other parts of the building.

Falk Auditorium seating includes selected seats with removable armrests, wheelchair seating positions, English-language titles projected over the stage, assisted listening devices, and large-print programs—please contact the box office at 412-326-9687 for information and assistance.