Preview: Opera Theater starts season in a new home

Share with others:

Print Email Read Later

The Opera Theater of Pittsburgh has never been one to shy away from doing things a little differently, and this season is no exception.

Take the company's reimagining of Jacques Offenbach's unfinished opera, "The Tales of Hoffman," which opens Saturday. This version -- called "The Tales of Hoffman Retold" -- will incorporate the titular character's own music, mostly in the prologue and epilogue. As far as Jonathan Eaton, executive director of Opera Theater, knows, that's never been done in previous productions.

Opera Theater SummerFest

Where: Twentieth Century Club, 4201 Bigelow Blvd., Oakland.


• "The Tales of Hoffman Retold" (Offenbach) -- 7:30 p.m. Saturday and July 13; 2:30 p.m. July 21.

• "A Little Night Music" (Sondheim) -- 2:30 p.m. Sunday; 7:30 p.m. July 12 and 20.

• "Shining Brow" (Hagen) -- 7:30 p.m. July 11 and 19.

• "The Secret Gardener" (Mozart) -- 2:30 p.m. July 14 and 20.

• "Night Caps" mini-operas -- July 11-13 and 19-21 after each mainstage opera. At 9:30 p.m. July 20 and 6:30 p.m. July 21, all four short operas will be performed back-to-back.

• Mozart in Concert -- Freya String Quartet 7:30 p.m. July 16-18.

• "A Little Nightmare Music" (Schickele) with Andrey Nemzer as Salieri and the Freya String Quartet -- 8:30 p.m. July 18; 5 p.m. July 20.

Tickets: Start at $20 ($10 for "Nightmare Music" and "Night Caps"); 412-326-9687 or

• Mozart Camp. July 16-20; $300.

"The music that is in it, that is so marvelous, it needed a new framework," Mr. Eaton said.

So did Opera Theater itself. Founded in 1978, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh moved to a summer-only schedule in 2012, with programming taking place at Shady Side Academy in Fox Chapel. This season, the company established its new home at the Twentieth Century Club in Oakland, a more central location.

"We're really excited about that, and we think our audiences will be," said Mr. Eaton, who also said the building may serve as its home in future years, too.

As always, the Opera Theater's unusual interpretations are center stage. As one example, two performances of "Shining Brow," Daron Hagen's opera about the life of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, took place in June at Fallingwater. It was the first opera to be staged in Wright's architectural masterpiece.

Other season highlights include Mozart's "The Secret Gardener," which was re-orchestrated for Opera Theater's smaller ensemble, and Steven Sondheim's "A Little Night Music," which will be staged with art deco styling in the Twentieth Century Club's art deco theater. All operas will be sung in English.

"We're trying to have a broad spread of festive fare, and summery fare that would appeal to a wide audience," Mr. Eaton said.

Still, he added, altogether the works address "the confusions of romantic relationships, the deceptions, the self-deceptions, the labyrinths of the heart. So that is, if anything, a theme that runs through the choice of everything."

Like last year, this summer's productions will be complemented by other programming, including pre-concert meals, post-concert receptions, world premiere mini comic operas and Mozart Camp, a five-day program for adults filled with lectures, performances and other programming.

For a company that likes to mix it up, variety and newness is perhaps its oldest tradition.


Elizabeth Bloom:; 412-263-1750.


Create a free PG account.
Already have an account?