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Pittsburgh Festival Opera Presents Opera Without Walls

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The episodes include opera-themed ads and spoofs, as well as cameo appearances by local celebrities.

Pittsburgh Festival Opera drops a sizzling six-minute web trailer to tease its upcoming Young Artists Program Online Scenes. Called Opera Without Walls (OWOW), these scenes are crafted in a variety of movie and TV styles (film noir, Game of Thrones, Handmaid's Tale, zombie apocalypse, to name a few) - and will be part of a series of exciting short episodes to appear online throughout the fall of 2020. Cut into a "channel-surfing" format, the episodes include opera-themed ads and spoofs, as well as cameo appearances by local celebrities such as Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, WQED Producer Rick Sebak, WQED FM's Anna Singer, former WTAE journalist Sally Wiggin, and KDKA TV's Sports Director/Anchor Bob Pompeani.

"Nobody's done anything quite like this that we have seen or heard," says Pittsburgh Festival Opera Artistic Director Marianne Cornetti, "And it was a true challenge to figure out how to make duets, trios... even sextets work with singers who could not be in the same room or stage with each other. Not to mention, they had to be their own audio and video crew!"

When COVID-19 shut down the PFO offices and closed all performance venues, PFO went Unstaged with its summer season, and decided to make its Young Artists Program an online endeavor, too. Spearheaded by Cornetti, and created by Derrick R. Brown, Rob Frankenberry, Lindsay Lehman, and Lynne Squilla, singers worked with music directors Frankenberry and Mark Trawka to record and then lip-synch to their own voice tracks. Directed by Brown, along with Young Artist Directors George Cole and Lauren Lenz, the singers recorded themselves with small high-resolution cameras to create fully-formed film scenes. Included in the repertoire are selections from Donizetti to Verdi, Mozart to Sondheim, and more.

Rob Frankenberry, Music Director and Hans and Leslie Fleischner Young Artist Director notes; "It's always a joy to witness a group of rising artists connecting with this material, but the work they've done in this medium brings to mind the fun and energy of YouTube and TikTok as much as it showcases the dramatic passion usually associated with the operatic stage. Fun is definitely the right word."

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