Artists interested in being part of a combined professional training and performing program are invited to apply for our Young Professional Artist Program that takes place in Pittsburgh as part of Pittsburgh Festival Opera’s 2019 summer festival activities.

Snuggery Farm performance

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.

The program, which runs from 10 June–21 July 2019*, is intended for Resident, Featured, Studio, and Apprentice Artists (singers, pianists and stage directors) with opportunities for solo performance with orchestra for all participants.

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Interested in getting more information about The Mastersingers Project for Young Dramatic Voices? Learn more here.

*Closing date still being finalized.



A Brief Overview

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


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 major 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.


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


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.


The Mastersingers Project for Young Dramatic Voices is led by Wagner expert and international star soprano Jane Eaglen, who has an illustrious career performing leading Wagner and dramatic soprano roles in all the major opera houses of the world. Ms. Eaglen has also become a renowned voice teacher and coach, working at New England Conservatory and the Merola Program alongside other ventures.

The Mastersingers Project will supply some soloists to the mainstage casts, as vocally appropriate, and all covers. It is anticipated that a number of roles in The Valkyrie will be cast from the Mastersingers, including the Valkyries.

This is a unique opportunity for high caliber young singers with dramatic voices to work with one of the most celebrated Wagner and dramatic repertoire artists in the world. The program will last for three weeks, starting with rehearsals for The Valkyrie and Die Liebe der Danae on 17 June 2019 and continuing with intensive coaching and performance opportunities through the end of the Festival on 21 July 2019.

In addition to mainstage role assignments, Mastersingers will spend significant one-on-one time with Ms. Eaglen and a dedicated coach and perform in an evening of Wagner opera scenes and a concert of Wagner's music.


Other Information

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 $40 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 2019 season, we expect to audition in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Boston, Chicago, Memphis, Los Angeles, Denton, and New York City, mostly over weekends, from November 30 - December 16, 2018. (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



Pittsburgh Festival 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
Brevard Music Festival $6,800 in total fees
Aspen Opera Theater $8,200 in total fees


Roles and Casting Policy

2019 Season Mainstage repertoire* includes

Die Liebe der Danae Richard Strauss Some roles and all understudies available to Young Professional Artists
The Valkyrie Richard Wagner      Some roles and all understudies available to Young Professional Artists
Windstorm in Bubbleland and Spoon Mountain Fred Rogers   All roles and all understudies available to Young Professional Artists
Gianni Schicchi Giacomo Puccini Some roles and all understudies available to Young Professional Artists


All productions are sung in English with English projected English titles.

We expect a significant number of roles—including lead roles— to be cast with Young Professional Artists. Additional opportunities expected to include recitals, weekly masterclasses, and more!

*Note: Repertoire subject to change.

PFO takes great pleasure in casting Young Professional Artists in solo activities as much as possible. In our 2018 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 21 September 2018) and deadlines are listed, varying by audition location. 

Applications for PFO's 2019 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 also accepted.

The application fee of $40 guarantees a live audition or interview as long as audition slots are available. Recorded auditions are also accepted with a $40 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.

  • Denton, TX
    Saturday, December 1st
    Room 232, University of North Texas College of Music, 415 Avenue C, Denton, TX 76201
    DEADLINE TO APPLY: Tuesday, November 27th
  • Memphis, TN
    Saturday, December 8th
    Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music, The University of Memphis
    DEADLINE TO APPLY: Tuesday, November 27th
  • New York, NY
    Sunday, December 9th through Wednesday, December 12th 
    The American Opera Center, 330 7th Avenue, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10001

    DEADLINE TO APPLY: Tuesday, December 4th
  • Los Angeles, CA
    Saturday, December 1st
    Schoenfeld Symphonic Hall, University of Southern California, 840 W 34th St, Los Angeles, CA 90089
    DEADLINE TO APPLY: Tuesday, November 27th
  • Boston, MA
    Friday, December 7th
    Room 118, Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory, 290 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115 
    DEADLINE TO APPLY: Sunday, December 2nd
  • Pittsburgh
, PA
    Friday, December 14th
    School of Music, Carnegie Mellon University, 5000 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
    DEADLINE TO APPLY: Sunday, December 9th
  • Recorded Auditions
    For singers only: follow repertoire requirements below, and submit via YAPTracker
    DEADLINE TO APPLY: Monday, December 10th


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

Internationally acclaimed tenor Robert Chafin has garnered accolades for his dramatic interpretation and versatile creativity in his performances, both on the operatic and concert stages. Robert has performed in over sixty roles with some of the finest performers, conductors and directors in the world. Robert has performed major roles throughout Europe and the United States including engagements in London (Covent Garden and English National Opera), New York City Opera, Paris, Israel (Tel Aviv and Jerusalem), Salzburg Summer Festival, Stockholm, Vienna, Frankfurt, Brussels, Madrid, Milan, Leipzig, and Berlin (Deutsche Oper and Kommische Oper). Critically praised and award-winning (2005 Orphee D’or–Grand Prix du Disque) recordings include operas of Franz Schreker, Richard Strauss, Leonard Bernstein, chamber music of Igor Stravinsky, and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

His concert highlights include singing with the London Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, American Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Symphony Orchestra, Israeli Philarmonic, Nord Deutsche Rundfunk Orchestra, Zurich Opera Orchestra, Opera Orchestra of New York, Roanoke Symphony, Pittsburgh Festival Opera Orchestra, and the Theatre des Champs-Élysées. He has worked with such conductors as Riccardo Muti, Donald Runnicles, Michel Plasson, Nicolas Geogeghan, Georg Solti, Frederic Chaslin, Renée Jacobs, Markus Stenz, and Leon Botstein, among others.

As Young Artist Program Director of Pittsburgh Festival Opera, Chafin sang to critical acclaim in the rarely performed Intermezzo by Richard Strauss in the summer of 2017, and sang the role of Elemer in Arabella this past summer. Chafin sang the role of Gabriele Adorno in September of 2018 in the Pennsylvania premiere of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra with Chatham Chamber Opera, and will sing Herod in Salome in April of 2019. A native of Christiansburg, VA, Robert Chafin is excited to be back in the United States as an Assistant Professor of Voice and Opera at WVU. Also in demand as a master-class technician in both opera and lieder, he is looking forward to recitals on the East Coast and in Europe. Future plans include helping establish a training program for future operatic artists in California, as well as concerts and master-classes planned for Munich, Cape Town, and Brussels.