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Opera director to leave Pittsburgh on high note

| Monday, Oct. 29, 2007

Pittsburgh Opera general director Mark Weinstein, who led the company from financial turbulence to extended stability and growth in the past 10 years, will leave to become executive director of Washington National Opera in the nation's capital.

Weinstein will work in his new post with superstar tenor Placido Domingo, who is artistic director of both the Washington National Opera and Los Angeles Opera, through the 2010-11 season. Weinstein's resignation is effective Feb. 1.

"Washington National Opera is getting someone who is a tremendously effective leader in the opera world," Pittsburgh Opera artistic director Christopher Hahn said Sunday. "He's always interested in finding the best way to either solve problems or move the company ahead, and that search for excellence permeates everything he does."

Weinstein is moving to a much larger company. Washington National Opera operates on a $33 million annual budget, compared with Pittsburgh Opera's $8 million. Washington National will present nine operas in the 2007-08 season; Pittsburgh Opera has five productions.

Weinstein and Pittsburgh Opera board of directors president John Traina could not be reached for comment.

When Weinstein was appointed executive director of Pittsburgh Opera in 1997, it had just posted a $700,000 loss and was $2.5 million in debt. In March, Weinstein said the company was debt-free and had operated on an essentially balanced budget for 10 years.

In addition, Weinstein helped build the company's endowment from $4 million to $16 million and has arranged for the $2.5 million purchase of a new home for the opera at 2425 Liberty Ave. in the Strip District. The opera's current home at 811 Penn Ave. will be razed for the RiverPark development project. The opera will continue to perform at the Benedum Center and other Cultural District venues.

Pittsburgh Opera is expected to begin moving into the Liberty Avenue home about the time he moves to Washington.

Weinstein is chair of the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council and for more than 20 years has been an on-site evaluator and panel participant of the National Endowment for the Arts.

After coming to Pittsburgh in 1997, Weinstein initially reported to general director Tito Capobianco. He became general director in 1999, when Capobianco became artistic director. Capobianco left in 2000.

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