CLO History

CLO Melody TentExceptional Musical Theater for More Than Half a Century

On February 20, 1946, the Civic Light Opera Association held a press luncheon to announce its very first season. Immediately, talk of a new era in Pittsburgh’s cultural life made a huge splash in all three of the city’s daily newspapers. In fact, the Sun Telegraph predicted that “the CLO will inaugurate a cycle in the city’s musical history that will outlive us all.”


How right they were!

1946  Civic Light Opera premieres at Pitt Stadium

1955  The Civic Light Opera Guild is established

1959  Civic Light Opera moves to the Melody Tent

1962  The Civic Arena is built for the CLO displaying the world’s first retractable roof. Audiences enjoy musical theater “under the stars” Pittsburgh CLO Melody Tent

1972  Pittsburgh CLO moves to the beautifully renovated Heinz Hall

1985  The Gallery of Heroes program is established

1988  Pittsburgh CLO expands to their current home in the Benedum Center

1989  The doors open at the CLO Academy of Musical Theater

1991  The premiere of the Gene Kelly Awards for Excellence in High School Musical Theater

1992  A Musical Christmas Carol opens at the Byham Theater

2001  CLO/CMU New Works Project, a collaborative effort, is established to encourage the development and refinement of new works of the American musical theater

2004  Pittsburgh CLO introduces year-round entertainment with the opening of The CLO Cabaret at Theater Square  

2005  Pittsburgh CLO helps form Elephant Eye Theatricals as a member of 5 Cent Productions to find new and innovative ways to develop material to play not only in Pittsburgh but also on the world stage

2009   Pittsburgh CLO and Nederlander Alliances, LLC establish The National High School Musical Theater Awards and present the first annual Jimmy Awards in New York City on June 29, 2009

2010  Pittsburgh CLO celebrates 20 years of the Gene Kelly Awards for Excellence in High School Musical Theater

2011  Pittsburgh CLO celebrates 20 years of A Musical Christmas Carol at the Byham Theater

2014  Pittsburgh CLO celebrates 10 years of the CLO Cabaret. An American in Paris debuts at the Théâtre du Châlelet in Paris, France.

2015  Pittsburgh CLO celebrates 25 years of the Gene Kelly Awards for Excellence in High School Musical Theater and 25 years of the Pittsburgh CLO Academy. Pittsburgh CLO celebrates 30 years of Gallery of Heroes. An American in Paris debuts on Broadway at the Palace Theatre.

The future is bright at Pittsburgh CLO!