Opera Theater of Pittsburgh was founded by Mildred Miller Posvar in 1978 as a professional company featuring emerging singers and dedicated to education and audience development. Mrs. Posvar fashioned the company after Boris Goldovsky's New England Opera Theater, where she performed before beginning her 23-year career as a principal artist at the Metropolitan Opera.
The company's educational directive is achieved through a number of programs. Through a contract with Gateway to the Arts, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh has taken opera to over 500,000 school children to date. While maintaining its traditional strength in touring to elementary schools, the company this past season launched a major new initiative to work with students in middle and high schools. The company also offers student performances and student access to dress rehearsals of its mainstage performances.
In 1987, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh initiated an American Opera Series in Pittsburgh. The company has presented more than a dozen Pittsburgh premieres of major American works over the last decade, including three world premieres.
Opera Theater of Pittsburgh has been a constituent performing organization of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust since 1992. The company performs operas in English (except for rare instances when specific purposes are to be served, such as OutReach concerts), both for the advantage of the audience and the singers.
In 1999, a new Artistic Director, Jonathan Eaton, came to Opera Theater of Pittsburgh. Mr. Eaton, an internationally renowned stage director, began his operatic career as a singer. This has helped him orient his stage work in sympathy with the musical elements. Jonathan believes in opera as an integrated art form, citing dramatic credibility as a prime element. With his interest in unusual, American and contemporary repertory, he continues Opera Theater's mission to produce modern music drama for today's audiences.
Opera Theater of Pittsburgh also provides an opportunity and serves as a base for aspiring professional singers. By performing in the company's touring productions and school programs, singers receive the experience, polish, and exposure necessary to begin major careers. A number of Opera Theater of Pittsburgh artists who once sang for children in Pittsburgh area schools are now leading performers on stages throughout the world.