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Music by Missy Mazzoli, with a libretto by Royce Vavrek, based on a short story by Karen Russell • February 17, 20, 23 & 25, 2024
Bitz Opera Factory

An American Dream as fragile as glass.

A family of Nebraskan homesteaders in the 1870s dreams of "proving up." They endeavor to obtain the deed to the land they've settled by fulfilling the requirements of the Homestead Act: five years of harvest, a sod house dwelling, and perhaps the most elusive element—a glass window.

With their eldest son incapacitated, Ma and Pa send their youngest living child Miles on a mission to share the valuable commodity with their distant neighbors who are expecting a visit from a government inspector. Miles’ journey brings him face to face with the remnants of a shattered past—the ghost of a neighboring farmer driven mad by the requirements of "proving up." The willowy figure knows all too well the cost of the American Dream, and the coveted window soon becomes a broken mirror reflecting great tragedy.

“A tense and creepy journey into the heart of Manifest Destiny's darkness” – The New York Times

"Harrowing...powerful... a true opera of our time" - The Washington Post


Where: The Bitz Opera Factory (Pittsburgh Opera's headquarters), 2425 Liberty Avenue, in Pittsburgh's Strip District


  • Saturday, February 17, 2024 * 8:00 PM
  • Tuesday, February 20, 2024 * 7:00 PM
  • Friday, February 23, 2024 * 7:30 PM
  • Sunday, February 25, 2024  * 2:00 PM
Fran Daniel Laucerica

Miles Zegner: Fran Daniel Laucerica*

Emily Richter

Mrs. Johannes “Ma” Zegner: Emily Richter*

Brandon Bell

Mr. Johannes “Pa” Zegner: Brandon Bell*

Julia Swan Laird

Taller Zegner Sister: Julia Swan Laird*

Jazmine Olwalia

Littler Zegner Sister: Jazmine Olwalia*  

Evan Lazdowski

The Sodbuster: Evan Lazdowski*

Mason Dowd

Peter Zegner: Mason Dowd+

Conductor: James Lesniak
Stage Director: Haley Stamats
Set Designer: Brett Rochford
Costume Designer: Nancy Julian
Lighting Designer: Todd Nonn
Stage Manager: Claire Young
Assistant Conductor: Glenn Lewis
Director of Musical Studies: Mark Trawka

+    Pittsburgh Opera debut
*     Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist
**   Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist alumni


Four performances at the Bitz Opera Factory, 2425 Liberty Avenue, in Pittsburgh’s Strip District

We want you to have the best experience possible at our performances!

Here are some details and resources to help. Also visit our Opera FAQs or our Accessibility page.

  • Run time currently expected to be approximately 80 minutes
  • Special effects notification: Low-lying fog, snow effects, and fake blood are used in this production
  • Understand Every Word: Proving Up is sung in in English with English supertitles projected above the stage
  • Parking near Bitz Opera Factory- Street parking is generally available on Penn Avenue, and there is a surface lot at 24th and Penn, right beside Harp & Fiddle.
  • Braille Programs 
  • Large-Print Programs 
  • Study Guide


  • Children must be ages 6 and up. Suggestions and tips for bringing children to the opera may be found at
  • All children must have a ticket. There is a 50% discount for kids and teens ages 6-18.

Enjoy these video excerpts of our production of Proving Up. Videos created and edited by RLG Creations unless otherwise noted. 

View all our Proving Up video excerpts on our special YouTube playlist

Despite Ma Zegner's (Emily Richter) objections that they need their son Miles (Fran Daniel Laucerica" to stay home and help with chores around the farm, Pa (Brandon Bell) prepares to send Miles on a journey to their neighbors, since "farmers need to look out for farmers."