Pittsburgh Festival Opera Announces New Four-Part Series ‘Legends in the Limelight’

By Chris Ruel

The Pittsburgh Festival Opera has announced a new four-part series, “Legends in the Limelight,” as part of its expanded season. The concerts will feature both established and younger artists, two with ties to the Pittsburgh area.

In the press release, Marianne Cornetti, internationally recognized as one of the leading Verdi mezzo-sopranos of her generation and Pittsburgh Festival Opera’s artistic director said, “I am thrilled to be able to invite these four truly great opera stars, who happen to be my dear friends and colleagues, to Pittsburgh to debut Pittsburgh Festival Opera’s “Legends in the Limelight” concert series. This type of concert series doesn’t exist here in Pittsburgh, and I truly believe our audiences deserve to hear these great artists.”

The series kicks off with soprano Alexandra Loutsion, a rising star who hails from Canonsburg, PA, a nearby suburb of Pittsburgh. Loutsion has sung several title roles, including Elektra, Turandot, and Tosca. She has performed with the Canadian Opera Company, New Orleans Opera, San Francisco Opera, and Central City Opera, where she gained acclaim for her interpretation of Leonora in Verdi’s “Il Trovatore.”

Performance Date: August 3, 2021

Next up is Baritone Michael Chioldi, who grew up in Pittsburgh and has become a known quantity as a dramatic baritone. Chioldi has performed at nearly every major American opera house, including The Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Washington National Opera, and Los Angeles Opera. Signature roles include Scarpia in “Tosca;” Jochanaan in “Salome;” the title role of Macbeth; Enrico in “Lucia di Lammermoor;” and Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with Washington National Opera and in a nationwide broadcast on the PBS television series Live from Lincoln Center, which received an Emmy award in 2008.

Performance Date: Sept. 3, 2021

Later in the fall, award-winning tenor Gregory Kunde, who was named “Male Singer of the Year” in 2016 at the International Opera Awards. Recent highlights include the title role “Otello” at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Calaf “Turandot” at the Gran Teatre del Liceu, Jean de Leyden “Le prophète” at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the title role “Don Carlos” for Opéra Royal de Wallonie-Liège, Samson “Samson et Dalila “at the Metropolitan Opera, title role “Otello” for Opéra national de Paris and Opéra de Monte-Carlo, title role “Andrea Chénier” and Radames “Aida” at the Wiener Staatsoper, Calaf “Turandot” at the Teatro Real, Madrid, Renato des Grieux “Manon Lescaut” in concert for Dallas Opera, Don Alvaro “La forza del destino” at the Semperoper Dresden, title role “Peter Grimes” at the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, Valencia, Radames “Aida” at the Teatro Real, Madrid, and a return to the podium to conduct “Il barbiere di Siviglia” at the Teatro La Fenice.

Performance Date: Oct. 19, 2021

Soprano Marjorie Owens will give the last performance of the series. Owens is a former member of the Sächsische Staatsoper in Dresden and a Grand Finals Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. In the 2018-2019 season, Owens returned to the Metropolitan Opera’s roster and made her debut with the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and Fabio Luisi in her signature role of Senta in Der fliegende Holländer. Audiences also heard her with the Greek National Opera and Utah Opera as the title role in “Norma” and appeared in recital with her alma mater, Baylor University.

Performance Date: Nov. 16, 2021

All performances will take place at Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland and start at 7:30 pm ET. A reception with the artists will follow each concert.