Pocket Opera

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Pocket Opera is an opera company based in San Francisco, California which has been presenting operas in English since 1978. The company was founded by Donald Pippin, whose musical career has spanned over six decades. Born in Zebulon, North Carolina and educated at Harvard University, Pippin began his career as an accompanist at George Balanchine's School of American Ballet in New York City.[1][2]

In 1952, Pippin moved to San Francisco, and has been an integral part of that city's artistic life since then. Audiences have followed him from his start at the hungry i and Opus One in North Beach, through nearly two decades of presenting a weekly chamber music series (1960-1978) at the Old Spaghetti Factory, to his present-day fame as the creator of one of San Francisco's most popular operatic institutions.

Pippin's first translation came in 1968, in the course of preparing Mozart's one-act opera Bastien und Bastienne for performance as part of his chamber music series. The opera, and his singing translation of it, were immediate successes with San Francisco audiences.

From that point on, Pippin has dedicated himself to the task of producing literate English versions of both well-loved classics and lesser-known gems of operatic literature. His repertoire has grown to include over 70 translations, many of which have been used by the Washington Opera at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the San Francisco Opera Center, the San Diego Opera, the Juilliard School of Music, and the Aspen Music Festival, among many others.

In 2005, Dianna Shuster, formerly of American Musical Theater of San Jose, joined Pocket Opera as the Executive Director. Nicolas Aliaga Garcia joined the company as Production Manager in 2009.

Pocket Opera presented Pippin's new English translation of the Polish opera The Haunted Manor, funded by the National Endowment of the Arts in April 2009.


  1. ^ Donald Pippin, As the Lights Go Up: Tales From Opera
  2. ^ Donald Pippin, A Pocketful of Wry, Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley oral history collection (1998)

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