Danielle Pastin

Before starring as Countess Almaviva in Pittsburgh Opera’s “The Marriage of Figaro” in November, renowned American soprano Danielle Pastin shares a slice of her life off the stage. Opera News calls Pastin “one of the most sheerly beautiful voices on the scene today” and she’s drawn acclaim across the globe — from Barcelona to The Metropolitan Opera. Discover what it’s like preparing for a lead role, how the singer likes to unwind around town, and why Halloween is Pastin’s favorite time of year. The daughter of a long-time Navy Band member, Pastin grew up all over the place, but considers herself a Pittsburgher since her parents hail from McKees Rocks, and she “loves living here.” An award-winning alum of Pittsburgh Opera’s Resident Artist program, Pastin resides in the North Hills, and has performed in world premieres around the U.S.

What upcoming events are you excited to attend?

This will largely be determined by what my rehearsal schedule, but there is a strong possibility that I will attend Phantom Fright Nights at Kennywood. I am a HUGE fan of Kennywood in general, and Halloween is my favorite holiday, so the combination of the two is overwhelmingly enjoyable to me!

When I’m rehearsing with Pittsburgh Opera you will ALWAYS see me having lunch at Penn Avenue Fish Company in the Strip District; the seafood is incredible, their soups are to die for and their sushi is awesome! After rehearsal I enjoy heading to Bar Marco; they have very interesting and delicious wines and cocktails. When I have an evening off, I am often at James Street Gastropub listening to live jazz. It’s a great venue with some really outstanding musicians coming through. [Be sure to catch some shows at this local landmark before it closes on November 11].

Danielle Pastin
Danielle Pastin performing in Nashville Opera’s production of “Turandot.” Photo by Reed Hummel.
Danielle Pastin performing in Nashville Opera’s production of “Turandot.” Photo by Reed Hummel.

Best part of your job?

There are so many things that I could say to answer this question. I truly enjoy each stage of the process, starting with the one-on-one coaching, to finding my interpretation of the piece in preparation for the staging process. And when I do get to the staging process, I love the awesome, often unspoken communication that I can experience with my fellow cast mates. I love the fact that the vibration of our vocal cords, empowered by the forces of our own breath, gives us song, and then we combine it with others to make music!

The first orchestra rehearsal, which we call the “sitzprobe” or “wandelprobe,” is always thrilling! And of course, hearing the audience respond to what they are seeing and hearing on stage is amazing, but when it comes down to it, one of my very favorite parts of my job is DRESSING UP! The costumes, wigs and makeup are AWESOME. Another reason why Halloween is my favorite holiday!

Which Pittsburgh personality would I dress as for Halloween?

Jalapeño Hannah, without a doubt! I like her purse and I admire her ‘spice’ for life.

Favorite Pittsburgh athlete?

Troy Polamalu! What a stud and I am insanely jealous of his hair.

We arrive for dinner. What’s on the menu?

Probably some Negroni cocktails to start, or maybe a Manhattan. For dinner it would more than likely be some sort of Italian comfort food, like a rich rigatoni bolognese paired with a complementary Barolo wine. For dessert, I love making Bananas Foster!

Favorite Pittsburgh comfort food?

Pierogi … of course! I could eat my weight in pierogis!

Danielle Pastin
World-renowned mezzo-soprano and Pittsburgh native, Marianne Cornetti, CMU professor and librarian, Ethan Pullman and Danielle Pastin showing their Pittsburgh pride in Barcelona.

My car has logged the most hours on …

The Pennsylvania Turnpike. Mostly driving back and forth between New York City and Pittsburgh. I am intimately familiar with the PA Turnpike and have started recognizing employees at some of the rest stops. There was a time last season where I logged 5,000 miles on my car in one week! The employees at the Valvoline on Ohio River Blvd were in shock.

At what Pittsburgh restaurant do you always order dessert?

I prefer to drink dessert. Lately I’ve been really enjoying DiAnoia’s in the Strip District, because I really love a liqueur called Amaro after a good dinner, and DiAnoia’s has a large and varied collection of Amaros, some of which are on tap!

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Jennifer BaronArts & Entertainment / Jobs Editor

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 of Handmade Arcade. Musically, she is in a band called The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.