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Pittsburgh Opera loves to support local businesses

Opera is for everyone, and Wendy Parkulo, Manager of Group Sales & Community Initiatives at Pittsburgh Opera, is proof of that.

“Fun fact: I had never seen an opera until I started working for Pittsburgh Opera,” says Parkulo, “but I always joke that that helps me when trying to market it and get people to try it for the first time. I’m learning along with you.”

a group of people posing for a photoThe Jacksonville, Fla., native moved to Pittsburgh in the fall of 2019 to pursue Carnegie Mellon University’s Master of Arts Management Program, but didn’t get to explore a lot of the city due to pandemic restrictions.

“By the time I graduated, I wanted to find a job that kept me here, and I’m glad that I’ve done that. Now I feel like I’ve really explored Pittsburgh after almost five years of living here.”

With Pittsburgh Opera headquartered in the Strip District (and located right next to Bold Escape Rooms) Parkulo loves her work location for how walkable it is.

“It’s such a vibrant community. Daily, we go on coffee expeditions to various coffee shops, and there are now more and more to choose from. I love looking at the architecture of some of the churches, too. There are more and more things to explore, so it’s a very cool spot to be in.”

Pittsburgh Opera loves to support local businesses, whether it’s catering from DiAnoia’s Eatery or lunch at Salem’s Market and Grill.

“We just joined Strip District Neighbors, an organization with town hall events that keeps us posted on things happening and improvements we all want to see. As more and more big apartment complexes keep popping up, we try to make relationships with them and talk to the building managers for group outings.”

Pittsburgh Opera presents LA TRAVIATA – March 16, 19, 22 & 24, 2024

And there’s always a lot going on with Pittsburgh Opera, whether it’s free performances at their Strip District space or big events downtown.

“Our biggest opera of the year is La Traviata that will open March 16 at the Benedum. It’s a classic. Even if you don’t know anything about opera, you’ve definitely heard some of the songs from it. We’re finishing out this 2023-2024 season with The Passion of Mary Cardwell Dawson at the Byham on April 27. That piece is really cool because it’s more of a play with operatic music.”

Mary Cardwell Dawson’s story especially resonates since she founded the National Negro Opera Company in Homewood.

“We’re super excited for that one with such important ties to Pittsburgh. We’re doing an opera and jazz combo concert with the Afro-American Music Institute in Homewood a few weeks before the show, and we’re also doing some panel discussions with black creatives to get their experiences and tie them into the work Mary Cardwell Dawson did to create job opportunities for black community members.”

In addition to the Strip District’s walkability (and knowing all the baristas!), Parkulo appreciates the way the businesses work together to help each other out. Pittsburgh Opera and Bold Escape Rooms frequently donate tickets and share resources for each other’s special events.

Plus, she speaks proudly of the opera company and the incredible work they produce.

“We do the classics well, but we do the modern pieces, too. We do a little bit of everything for the Pittsburgh community. We also cast diversely and make sure it’s a good representation of today’s culture. The way we can do everything artistically is really impressive. I think it’s something a lot of artistic organizations struggle with, but it’s something we do really well.”