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Microscopic Opera Company

Pittsburgh, PA         

The Microscopic Opera Company creates innovative, cutting edge and “up-close” performances of contemporary chamber opera, in English, featuring professional musicians in the Pittsburgh area.  The company focuses on the growing repertoire of contemporary and new chamber opera works available to perform in English, most of which are presented as Pittsburgh premieres, and many of which would otherwise sit untouched.  Unique to Pittsburgh, Microscopic Opera is the only professional opera organization in the area that exclusively presents modern and new chamber opera.  We are thrilled to know that our audience appreciates our unique spin on opera – we were named "Best of the Burgh" in 2013 by Pittsburgh Magazine, also, "Best New Performing Arts Troupe" in 2011 by City Paper, among other accolades. The Microscopic Opera Company was founded by Andres Cladera and Erica Olden in 2009 and became a 501(c)3 organization in 2012.  Since 2010, Microscopic Opera has presented seven full productions, featuring 11 chamber operas, most of which were Pittsburgh premieres.  In March, 2012, we hosted a week-long workshop of a new opera, Orphan Train, by Douglas Levine and Julie Tosh, which we plan on producing in full in 2015.  On average, the organization produces two full-scale operas each year, with an additional fundraising event.  Our previous season featured a very unique production:  a play, an opera and a "music drama", all on one bill.  In Riders2+Lizbeth, we presented Sygne’s play, Riders to the Sea, Vaughn William’s opera, Riders to the Sea, and Thomas Albert’s Lizbeth, all in one night, featuring amazing professional AEA actors alongside the Microscopic Opera Company singers.  This is a great example of our innovative programming, which we hope to continue.

The Microscopic Opera Company’s fourth season features two exciting Pittsburgh premieres:  Therese Raquin by Tobias Picker and Gene Scheer (September, 13-21, 2013) and Night of the Living Dead by Todd Goodman and Steven Cantazarite (October 31-November 3, 2013). 

We are thrilled to present the world premiere of Night of the Living Dead in October and November.  This opera is being written for The Microscopic Opera Company by composer, Todd Goodman and librettist, Steven Catanzarite, with special permission from film maker, George Romero.  We look forward to a workshop at Center for Contemporary Opera, July 2013, which we hope will inform the composition, performance and overall production, for its premiere on Halloween.  Filmmaker George Romero fully supports the project and plans are being discussed for his possible travel to Pittsburgh in order to create a film of the opera, as well as a documentary of the making of the opera.  Night of the Living Dead will be staged at The Kelly-Strayhorn Theater.  Stage Direction:  Gregory Lehane; Music Direction:  Andres Cladera; Scenic Design: Britton Mauk; Lighting Design: Justin Keenan-Miller; Video Projections:  Joe Seamans; Performers:  John Dooley; Shannon Kessler-Dooley; Michael Dailey; Jillian Marini; Zachery Luchetti; Brent Stater and Daphne Alderson.

With its focus on modern chamber opera, one common objective for all of these projects is for The Microscopic Opera Co. to provide diverse and unique performance experiences featuring contemporary music.  This is the only performing arts organization in the region to focus on modern opera, sung only in English.  Our “up-close” style of presentation is of great appeal to our growing audience:  primarily young (age 20-50) theater-goers, new-comers to opera, and/or music and opera lovers.  Another objective is to continue to increase our audience base and diversity, by exploring new work and by enhancing marketing strategies and visibility in the region.  The Microscopic Opera Co. enhances and diversifies the region’s list of professional performing arts ensembles, which strengthens the idea of a complex arts ecology.  Programming choices, including modern, American chamber opera, contribute depth and variety to the spectrum of cultural events and activities in Pittsburgh.  Further, increasing professional opportunities for local artists and technicians is an important goal of The Microscopic Opera Co., and these projects give us the opportunity to continue to work toward that goal. 

Microscopic’s Board of Directors:

Tobias Picker, Jeffrey Gross, Adriana Helbig, Ph.D., James Herald, Ph.D., Dina Law, Stephen Reinsel, Esq.

Microscopic Opera Documentary Written, Filmed and Edited by Kris Veenis (2012)

Here is a a short film about our production “Riders2 + Lizbeth” from 2012, at Pittsburgh Opera Building. The production featured Synge’s play, Riders to the Sea, followed by Vaugh Williams’ opera, Riders to the Sea and also Thomas Albert’s Lizbeth – a modern recounting of the events of Lizzie Borden’s life.

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Therese and Camille Forever

Video used in Therese Raquin 2013, Microscopic Opera Co.
An Opera by Tobias Picker
Microscopic Opera Orchestra Recorded Live
Andres Cladera, Music Director
Katherine Drago, Jeffrey Gross, Video by Joe Seamans

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Fantastic Mr. Fox by Tobias Picker

2011 Production featuring Leah Dyer as Ms. Hedgehog. Hillman Center for Performing Arts, Pittsburgh. Director: Erica Olden. Music Director: Andres Cladera.

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