Pittsburgh offers classical performances throughout summer
Outdoors or inside, summer concerts in Pittsburgh will offer a surprisingly wide range of musical experiences. From the many staged and concert offerings of Summerfest to the explorations of the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble to the mainly Pops-oriented presentations of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, summer 2016 promises many exciting musical experiences.
The heart of the Summerfest season, which runs from June 22 to July 24, is five staged productions — two operas, another opera in a cabaret adaptation, a children’s opera and a classic musical.
Except for the first production, all Summerfest performances will take place at the Winchester-Thurston School in Shadyside.
Summerfest’s season opens with six performances of “Carmen the Gypsy,” a revival of the clever and highly successful adaptation of Georges Bizet’s opera for an intimate cabaret space with a small ensemble, which was first seen in 2012. Performances on June 22 and 23 are at Sphinx Cafe, Oakland; June 25 and 26 at Artifacts, West End; July 1 and 2 at Snuggery Farm, Sewickley; and July 9 at Winchester-Thurston.
“Kiss Me, Kate” will feature Summerfest resident artists in Cole Porter’s famous musical take on William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew,” July 8, 10, 16 and 23.
Summerfest will offer a new production of George Frideric Handel’s “Giulio Cesare,” a baroque opera driven by politics and romance, July 15, 17 and 23. The production will star countertenor Andrey Nemzer, who won the company’s voice competition before becoming one of the winners of the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions. Summerfest says its production of “The Silent Woman” by Richard Strauss will be the Pennsylvania premiere of this comic opera, from July 22 and 24. It is about a new bride who does not remain silent and is the third in a four-season exploration of less familiar Strauss operas.
“Little Red Riding Hood” is a 50-minute family opera, July 9, 16 and 23, which will be followed by themed crafts and other activities.
Summerfest is bringing back “Nightcaps,” six short, adult comic operas first seen in 2012, on July 24 and 27. The recitals are by Liam Bonner, July 7; The Three Countertenors, July 10; Daphne Alderson re-creating Edith Piaf’s famous 1956 Carnegie Hall concert in New York City, July 14; and young artists, July 17.
Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble will salute its founder David Stock, who died in November 2015, by performing his music on each of its four programs, which are repeated twice at City Theater, South Side.
The season opens with a commissioned premiere, Russell Pinkston’s “Off Leash,” along with music by Shahrohk Yadegari, Steven Bryan and Stock, July 8 and 9.
Week two will juxtapose music by John Corigliano with Stock, July 15 and 16, followed by Andy Akiho and Stock, July 22 and 23. Akiho, a steel drum virtuoso, will give an extra concert with the ensemble’s percussionist, Ian Rosenbaum, July 20.
The season will conclude with a company co-commission from Pulitzer Prize-winner Kevin Puts and music by Stock. Violinist Andres Cardenes will be the guest artist.
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra‘s “Summer With the Symphony” series runs from June 11 to July 23, mostly at Heinz Hall. The exceptions are a performance capping classical day at the Three Rivers Arts Festival, June 11, the salute to servicemen and women at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland, July 1, and traditional outdoor concerts at South Park, July 2, and Hartwood Acres, July 3.
The biggest names performing with the symphony are Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, June 30, and Peter Cetera, former lead singer of Chicago, July 7. The symphony also will perform with Windbourne playing music of the Eagles, July 21, and of David Bowie, July 22.
Family entertainment will include the film “Back to the Future” with the score played live by the symphony, July 6, and the music of “Harry Potter,” July 16.
A Classical Summer Party concludes the symphony’s concerts, July 23, with a post-party with the musicians in the Heinz Hall Garden.
Mark Kanny is the Tribune-Review classical music critic. Reach him at 412-320-7877 or [email protected].