The Five things Opera Singers NEVER want to hear!

Everyone knows some cliches about Opera, and a few questions to ask.  But when you meet an opera singer for the first time, here’s a countdown of the the five things an opera singer wants to hear THE LEAST:

5.) nothing.

4.) dead. silence.

3.) crickets chirping and a distant cough.

2.) you opening your mouth as if to say something, and then closing it again.

1.) the sound of the moisture evaporating off of your eyeballs as you zone out into a glassy stare.


You keep us and our art relevant when you relate to us on your terms.  Sure, there are some questions opera singers are used to answering, but as long as people are asking them, that means they care.  Don’t ever hesitate to voice your curiosity about opera, because we love this art, we’re passionate about it, and we would love to discuss it with you.  We know that your background is not the same as ours.  The moment you feel too inexperienced to ask questions, or worry that you might embarrass yourself, that’s when we hear the thing we dread the most—  an entire population letting us become irrelevant.


-by Liz Rishel

Mobile Media

When I’m alone in the house, I tend to click on one of three apps for my own personal entertainment- Netflix, YouTube, or the Infuse App that allows me to stream my digital collection of movies and shows.  I enjoy watching new things, but I also like to revisit old favorites.  These are usually the things I put on in the background when I’m making dinner or doing chores.  When I think about consuming media, be it art, entertainment, news, educational, or combinations of those things, this experience of sharing my media with my mobile life is the first thing that comes to mind.

Steam ~ or ~ The Specters of the Knox Mill is designed to be released on YouTube for the general public to enjoy.  We love the idea that our audiences will be able to deck out across the couch, open up their YouTube App, and watch our show alone or with friends from anywhere in the world, but the idea that makes me smile is the thought that perhaps someone will one day decide to throw on Steam while folding laundry or making dinner.  It’s the double-tasking activities that feel the most meaningful- the experience of a familiar voice that whispers, “Hello friend.  I’m here for you whenever you need me.”


-Written by Liz Rishel

Happy New Year From The Specters of the Knox Mill!


Happy New Year, All!

We are getting pumped to really make 2016 a landmark year.  2015 was great for us- we wrote a ton of music that we love, growing together as a band, composers, and as individuals, we continued in the ongoing discussions about how to deepen our characters and story arcs, we made a lot of new friends, we had film shoots, photo shoots, and recorded a song, we played in two public performances, and we put out our First Official Trailer / Teaser!  We are immensely proud of these accomplishments, and look forward to burying them under the list of first steps we have planned for this year.

Unfortunately, due to a recent website crash, some of our updates got lost, so allow me to add a recap.  Bear with me while I recover some of what we lost:

On November 20th, the Good People of Mr. Smalls Theater (where we filmed part of our music video,) threw an amazing party and graciously allowed us to be the main event.  The band performed it’s first solo set as a unit, and we had a blast doing it.  (It’s amazing how much nicer music sounds when it’s not coming out of a tiny amp in the basement.)  We also got to participate in the steampunk fashion show, and design some killer well drinks, complete with dry ice effects.  I had a ton of fun showcasing the custom steampunk vests I made especially for my bandmates, and the faux-leather cincher/apron I made for myself.  I heard that the tea dueling was awesome and amazing fun (I couldn’t attend, because I was getting ready for the set and the fashion show).  We are really appreciative of everyone who came to make that evening enjoyable with your beautiful faces!

After that, it was back in the studio for us!  We laid the foundation to some really nice songs, and I could tell that we were hungry to get composing again after such an extended period of intense rehearsals.  Also, putting some distance between us and the details enabled us to take a fresh look at our story and characters and really get in there with the nitty gritties.  It was also neat diving deeper into our steel mill history research as a band and making some well-needed final decisions.

We got to meet with some really great people, Mike Traficante, Dave Bennett, and Jill Sciulli, who gave us insight into how to plan our crowdfunding, so you can look forward to hearing more about that very soon!

Every rehearsal continues to bring us one step closer to completion, which is at the same time exciting and formidable!  We’ve accomplished so many ‘firsts’ in 2015, and still have so many more to look forward to!

Cheers to all!

-Liz and The Specters of the Knox Mill

Filming at Mr. Smalls

We are very grateful to be hosted by Mr. Smalls as the venue for our music video.  They were courteous and kind, allowing us to use their awesome venue to help us look awesome.  Notable delightful people include Shaunden Smith, Liz Berlin, and Mike Speranzo, who made filming there into an absolute dream.

Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some other amazing artists who contributed their time and talents toward our cause- Douggie Duerring dropped everything at a moment’s notice to come over and run light board, dazzling us with his amazing display of light and design.  Also, his amazing beard.  Doug is a local photographer, and you can see his professional website here.

Jess Bala transformed me (Liz) with her skilled makeup talents, from a frazzled mess into an artistic, clockwork design of lashes, gears and cogs.  I, personally, am very grateful, because not only did she make me look better than I could have ever done on my own, but her soothing presence and confidence calmed me to the point where I could begin to feel like a human being again.

And, of course, we would like to acknowledge our faithful videographers, Edwin Huang, and Scott Lewis, for their vigilance, flexibility, improvisation, creativity, and inspiration on this shoot, and all of the others.  They are great.  They just are.



Thanks, Michael and Deb!

A special thank you to Michael and Deborah Greenstein for opening their home to us for the filming of our music video/trailer/teaser on Wednesday, October 21.  Not only was their house structurally in keeping with the correct time period, but their ornate collection of Victorian antiques lent some authenticity to the set that we very much appreciated!  Even better, though, was their generous hospitality and kindness in offering us refreshments and lending us additional props for the shoot, candlesticks, oil lamps, a mirror, and even some pages dating back to the 16th century (for ‘research’, you know.)  😉

Mike and Deb, your kindness will always be remembered, and your friendship to our project means more than we can say!

Filming at Max’s Allegheny Tavern

We’d like to extend sincere gratitude to Max’s Allegheny Tavern for hosting our Board of Directors film shoot on Tuesday night.  they were gracious and accommodating to our many actors and were generous in supplying extra props that made the shoot look so much more alive.  Thank you to Erin and the rest of the staff for your hospitality.

Filming at the Penn Brewery

We’d like to thank the Penn Brewery for their hospitality in letting us film a segment for our trailer/teaser in front of their fine establishment this afternoon.  We got to speak with a representative who told us that the Penn Brewery is actually considered one of the haunted locations in Pittsburgh, supposedly occupied by the sister of one of their founding families!  How exciting to film our ghost story on a real, haunted location.  I will be interested to see what develops in the film.  MuhuhaHA!

Also, a special thank you to Bob Miller, Chris Bartko, Carl Gorr, and MaryLou Lenhart, who lent themselves as extras in the scene, and with very short notice, assumed the blue-collar identities of some enraged strikers.  Your presence added some much-needed vitality!

We are thrilled to have our first filming shoot officially under our belts.  It pleases us when we hit milestones, and we will never forget our firsts!

Steampunk Ball and Fashion Cotillion on November 20th!

The Good People of Mr. Smalls Theater have selected this project to be the beneficiary of an amazing Steampunk event that they are planning for November 20th, called the Steampunk Ball and Fashion Cotillion.  As the name suggests, guests are encouraged to come dressed in their Steampunk finery for an evening of well-mannered enjoyment, including a silent film, dancing, tea dueling (don’t know what that is?  Check it out on YouTube!  It’s fascinating!), sneak-peak performances from our upcoming project, and a special guest performance by Pittsburgh’s own Phat Man Dee.  Also, there will be a fashion show and a gadget demo of the lovely and unique steampunk designs that guests have accrued.  What better way to help out our opera project than to come out for a night of fun and entertainment with your Steampunk buddies?


Our First Live Performance

We had a great time playing our first live gig at the Evenings in Quarantine: The Zombie Opera Five-Year Anniversary Party last night at Mr. Smalls Theater.  We got to perform “The Pitch” for the Zombie Opera fans and participants.  What a treat is was to debut this song, and officially announce ourselves at long last, after more than a year of planning, writing, story-refinement, and rehearsing.  And how nice it was to perform in such an amazing venue like Mr. Smalls!  Thanks to Liz, Mike, Shaunden, and Sabrina for making it possible!


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