Opera San José
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Opera San José is a professional, regional opera company in San Jose, California. Maintaining a resident company of principal artists, Opera San José specializes in showcasing young professional singers. In addition to mainstage performances, Opera San José maintains extensive educational programs in schools and in the community at large, and offers preview lectures and "Introduction to Opera" talks for all mainstage productions.
Opera San José was founded in 1984 by the late Irene Dalis, who was general director for 30 years, retiring in 2014. David Rohrbaugh was a founding member of Opera San José’s artistic staff. Prior to his retirement in 2014, Dr. Rohrbaugh conducted more than 70 productions and more than 600 performances for Opera San José. Larry Hancock, who has been with the organization even before it was incorporated, became general director in 2014. Hancock announced his retirement in April 2019 and introduced Khori Dastoor as incoming general director, taking over in July 2020. Joseph Marcheso has been the Music Director and Principal Conductor since 2014.
In the United States, Opera San José is unique with its resident company of principal artists. These artists, in the first years of their careers, are identified and awarded annual contracts to perform leading roles in mainstage productions and to participate in school and community-wide educational activities. These singers are groomed for international performing careers. Due to the resident nature of the company, modeled after the German regional opera company, these artists build substantial professional repertoire, are coached by resident and guest conductors and stage directors, and are prepared to meet the demands of a successful operatic career.
Opera San José maintains three performance programs: a mainstage subscription series of four operas; a varied curriculum of educational programs for youth and adults; and community-wide performances that include outdoor concerts, performances at libraries and retirement communities, performances for clubs and other organizations.
Opera San José is funded by the city of San José and has had many major corporations and foundations as donors including Applied Materials, The Packard Humanities Institute, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, The Getty Foundation, and many others.
On April 7, 2019 general director Larry Hancock announced Khori Dastoor as the incoming general director to take over July 1, 2020.
The opera company opened its 2004–2005 season in the 1,119 seat California Theatre, a former vaudeville and film theatre designed by Weeks and Day. Opened in 1927 as the Fox California Theatre (originally with 1,848 seats), this movie palace was said to be the finest theater in California. With its Jazz Age décor, it was part of a wave of ornate theaters built to define downtowns all over the country in the 1920s and 1930s. For nearly 50 years the theatre showed films until its closure in 1973. It was left vacant and dilapidated for many years, but reopened in 2004 after a $75 million restoration project by the Packard Humanities Institute and the San Jose Redevelopment Agency.
In 2004, the California Theatre reopened as a major performing arts facility designed both for live stage performances and for motion pictures. The new theatre is filled with modern amenities in a setting of restored 1920s opulence. It has been called one of the most beautiful theatres in the state, and is now the home of Opera San Jose and Symphony Silicon Valley. It plays host annually to the Cinequest Film Festival.
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