Christopher Hahn

Since becoming Pittsburgh Opera‘s general director in 2008, Christopher Hahn has expanded and enriched the company’s repertoire, introducing Baroque and contemporary operas and a variety of production styles. Trained in his native country of South Africa, Christopher previously managed the San Francisco Opera Center’s world-renowned Merola Opera Program—the country’s leading training program for American singers—and served as artistic administrator at Los Angeles Opera with Plácido Domingo and Peter Hemmings. Acclaimed for recognizing young vocal talent, Christopher is a sought-after juror at American and international vocal competitions. He’s also quite amusing and charming and known for his wit. Pittsburgh is lucky to have him.

Monday, January 23

Bright and early I have a (mercifully) brief training session with Ivan White, an excellent trainer with whom I have been working for years, then head off to Pittsburgh Opera‘s headquarters in the Strip for a morning full of meetings with my team of senior managers. I love the building which is always a hive of activity day and nightit used to be George Westinghouse Jr’s original Air Brake Factory, and thus is an important part of Pittsburgh history.

I’ll meet with one of my Board members, Dr. Lisa Cibik, her husband, Bernie Kobosky, and their daughter Ali Good, who are chairing our annual Maecenas Ball on May 13th. Lisa has chaired a number of our most successful events and I always look forward to working with hera brilliant woman with great taste!

Later, I’ll pop my head into a musical rehearsal of our chorusthey’re working on Puccini’s fantastic Turandot, which opens at the Benedum on March 25th. Even now they’re sounding very, very good.

Then I shoot off for a quiet dinner at Morcilla in Lawrenceville with my other half, Ron Booth, of Studio Booth in Shadyside. I love this restaurant, though I can usually never get in, and am quite pleased with myself that I actually have a table . . .

Christopher Hahn emceeing the Diamond Horseshoe Ball. Photo: David Bachman Photography.

Tuesday, January 24

Today is going to be a long day, so I need to fortify myself at La Prima for some espresso before coming into the office. I’m always curious what their Italian proverb of the day will be.

The big event tonight is our second performance of Handel’s Richard the Lionheart, at CAPA Theater downtown. It was written in 1727, but we are only the second people in the entire U.S. to produce it. After the show, I am hosting our “Meet the Artists” reception. This is a free, informal discussion with our fabulous Resident Artists cast members. The audience gets to ask questions and mingle with them afterward, and I look forward to coaxing some new revealing facts about the singers out into the open.

Wednesday, January 25

Full staff meeting today, which is quite difficult to pull together as we’re all so busy, but a good opportunity to give a pep talk about how important it is to fully staff all the myriad events we hold in the building. I am reminded how very lucky we are to have such a dedicated group of people making it all happen.

Lunch at my favorite local placeit almost operates as the Opera’s unofficial canteenPenn Avenue Fish Company. Always delicious and nutritiousbest sushi in town. Not much can beat their Pretty Girl Roll.

I will check in with our production team to see how the load-in for our chamber opera, As Oneis going. It’s a fascinating piece about a transgender person, which has been wowing the opera world. Also an opportunity to check out our spanking new seating bank which we recently purchased thanks to a grant from RAD. Thank you, RAD!

This evening I get to shift gears and see John Cleese at the Pittsburgh Speakers Series at Heinz Hall. I’m a big Monty Python fan, and an even bigger Fawlty Towers fan, so hearing him speak in person is going to be a real treat.

Christopher Hahn with librettist Royce Vavrek and composer Ricky Ian Gordon on opening night of their opera 27 at Pittsburgh Opera headquarters.

Thursday, January 26

While working in my office, I keep an ear open to the coaching with one of our Resident Artists that’s taking place next door. Not sure that they realize I’m a silent eavesdropper on every note.

For lunch, I’m meeting with two of my favorite people in townmy Board Chair Michele Fabrizi and Interim Director of The Andy Warhol Museum Patrick Mooreto talk about a potential upcoming project.

If all goes well, I hope to stop by Carnegie Mellon University in the evening to see the School of Music’s production of Die Fledermausit’s always fun to get a whiff of energy from their students.

Friday, January 27

I have a lunch date with Evan Frazier from Highmark at Casbah in Shadyside. Highmark is a generous supporter of Pittsburgh Opera, and of the arts in our region in general. However, these days more people ask Evan about his wife, Dr. Holly Hatcher-Frazier, who is on Dance Moms with their daughter Nia. I’ll get an update.

In the evening is our third performance of Richard the Lionheart. By now the artists have a few performances under their belt and should be having some extra fun with their roles.

Christopher Hahn with Bob Nutting and Sean Gibson at the Maecenas gala. Photo: David Bachman Photography.

Saturday, January 28

Vacation time! Today I am traveling to Mexico. I will be staying north of Playa del Carmen for a week of R&R. I love that I can now fly direct non-stop on American Airlines from Pittsburgh International Airport to Cancun. Christina Cassotis has done a great job helping bring convenient flights like this to the region.

If I have time, I may just enjoy a glass of wine at Vino Volo before my flight.

Sunday, January 29

Siesta! I get to enjoy the beaches, food and people of this beautiful, wonderful country. And because I’m a tad bit on the compulsive side, I’ll probably check my email a few times.

See who else is NEXT Up here.

Have a suggestion for NEXT Up? Email us with suggestions!

Jennifer Baron

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator...