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Opera San José

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Opera

Mission: Opera San José is dedicated to presenting the finest professional opera performances while creating and providing cultural and educational programs that both enrich the opera experience and encourage future generations of artists and audiences. To achieve this mission, Opera San José will: 1. Maintain a professional, fiscally responsible opera company of artistic excellence for San José and its environs. 2. Discover, attract and develop a resident ensemble of outstanding, emerging professional singers. 3. Provide these singers with repeated performance opportunities in major roles as well as professional career development. 4. Develop, entertain, educate, and serve a broad-based spectrum of the extended community.

Geographic areas served: Greater San Francisco Bay Area

Programs: Main stage performances - to maintain and enhance a professional opera company of artistic excellence and provide technical assistance for other companies. Attendance at main stage performances during the year 2016-2017lucia di lammermoor : 4285barber of seville : 5200silent night : 5341 la boheme : 5652 total attendance 21,174

educational programing for youth - to create and maintain an effective program for the schools of the santa clara valley one-act touring opera- the barber of seville : in collaboration with starting arts of san jose, a condensed one-act touring opera of rossini's the barber of seville was presented during the 2016-2017 academic school year. Directed by veteran singer/director michael taylor, osj's professional singers and pianist performed some of rossini's best known arias and ensemble or chorus, and assigned small speaking roles. The barber of seville provided students with a positive experince of an art form that may be new to them, offering a fantastic introduction to opera and theatrical storytelling through music and voice. Q & a with the singers followed each performancevocal/drama masterclass: perfect for middle school through high-school choral and musical theatre students, a resident artist presents a masterclass focusing on healthy vocal technique, breathing fundamentals and principles of good diction. For musical theatre and drama students, the presentation can be tailored to also address the topics of role preparation, stage movement and character development. What is opera? : an interactive lecture demonstration in which semi-costumed artists performed operatic excerpts illustrating opera's 400-year history and the many languages and cultures contained in the vast body of operatic composition. The presentation is preceded by classroom study. What is opera? . Challenges students to explore the expressive limits and possibilities of conveying narrative theater through music and acting. Question and answer interaction with the audience is intergral to the presentationfinal dress rehearsals - students and their teachers and/or parent chaperones are invited to attend, free of charge, a dress rehearsal of one of osj's mainstage operas.

educational programming for adults - these include five types of educational programs, four of which introduced newcomers to opera and enhanced enjoyment for ticket buyers, opera lovers and first time listeners: an annual course on opera history, previews; introduction to opera talks; and opera in the neighborhoods concerts/community performances. Summer training program: the summer training program was a unique training oppotunity for singers who have strong vocal technique and a clear commitment to developing a career in opera. This two-week program encompassed individual coaching sessions and tailored group workshops enabling singers to develop their vocal and dramatic skills in a professional environment, with unprecedented access to the wealth of expertise provided by opera san jose, insight into the world of professional opera, and valuable opportunities for dialogue with key people from within the industry. Mlk library previews - a one-hour preview for each production is presented free of charge at the dr. Mlk libary in san jose(located at the corner of fourth and san fernando streets). Moderated by general manager larry hancock, the preview includes a lecture and performances by opera san jose artists. Opera history courses: each year, as a part of opera san jose's commitment to adult education, a six-evening course is presented that covers opera through all its periods. This popular opera history series covers 400 years of opera development, from jacopo perri's euridice in 1600 to the present day. Introduction to opera: at 6:30 before evening performances, and at 1;30 before matinees, a free talk is presented in the california theatre that introduces audience members to the composer's life, his place in the history of opera, the story and its characters.

Community Stories

4 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Rating: 5

I came to opera way too late, and lucky for me Opera San Jose is there for me as I try to make up for lost time. OSJ's performances and production values seem to surprise everybody, but they really should not: OSJ's deep commitment to excellence is evident to anyone who has seen even one production. Also apparent is OSJ's commitment to developing tomorrow's opera talent by providing the young singers a stable environment to learn and grow.

OSJ's attention to careful budgeting is legendary, and is especially clear to those of us who have done volunteer tasks for OSJ. Dollars donated to OSJ are dollars well-spent.


Rating: 5

Opera San Jose is a marvelous company in the San Francisco Bay Area. Frequently I find its productions to be superior to those of much larger opera companies. I became so enthusiastic that I published a book about the company and its founder, opera star mezzo-soprano Irene Dalis. Currently I'm president of the Friends of Opera San Jose, guiding the 60+ members in volunteering for the company in a variety of roles. Many of our audience members have been attending OSJ productions for 25 to 30 years. I'm proud to be part of it and to devote many hours to attracting new audiences.

[Video courtesy of Fred and Peggy Heiman and Globe Video Productions]

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

Opera San Jose is truly unique. Its singers are hired by the year (contracts are renewable for up to four years), not by the production, and they become members of the community. We audience members get to watch them perform a variety of roles, and to enjoy their growing excellence year after year.

The productions are superior. I am not the only one who has said that OSJ's productions are sometimes preferable to those offered by nearby San Francisco Opera, which is a world-class company with a much larger budget and audience base.

MANY singers who have gone through the OSJ program have gone on to have long and successful opera careers -- and WE are the ones who get to hear them first!

Performances are given in the California Theatre in downtown San Jose. This is a stunningly renovated 1927 movie palace, a true work of art in itself, which creates a magical mood the minute you walk through the doors.

I know for a fact that OSJ manages its budget with stringent self-control, so that donations are carefully managed. If you love opera, music, and theatre, you cannot do better than to invest your gift dollars in Opera San Jose.


Rating: 5

As a volunteer, I'll tell you right now that Opera San Jose feels like one big family. When I met one of the company's key executives a couple of years ago on a summer opera tour, I was very impressed and a few months later I became a volunteer. When I offered to work in any capacity that would help the company, and since the company hadn't had a volunteer auxiliary for twenty plus years, I was asked to start an auxiliary group.

Now we have an official volunteer auxiliary whose name is FRIENDS OF OPERA SAN JOSE. We have over sixty members! We are looking for more because we'll be putting on exciting large events and hope for enough volunteers so no one feels burdened and so each volunteer feels she or he has just the right amount of interesting work!

Not only do we work together, but we play together, too. And, as we work, depending on what we do, we get to know the opera singers, conductors, stage directors, production people, costume and scenery designers, and makeup artists, plus company management and members of the board.

As an example of how we play together, recently all members were invited to a birthday party for our founder, former Metropolitan Opera star Irene Dalis. We got to eat cheese and fruit and birthday cake, to drink our choice of wine and soft drinks and champagne, to hear her tell us stories of her Met career and the founding of Opera San Jose. At this party, we got to chat personally with her and the company's general director ("CEO.") We have several social events and cultural outings every year to play together as well as to work!

Opera San Jose's volunteer organization has jobs big and small. A volunteer doesn't have to be overwhelmed. We work in various aspects of producing operas (sometimes on the stage), and work in fundraising and audience development. All our work is so much fun because the company loves its volunteers and we love the company and each other!

I am a volunteer, donor, and ex-officio member of Opera San Jose's board of trustees. You may think I'm biased because of these jobs I do, but I want to let you know that I'm doing those jobs because of the family feeling and camaraderie this opera company exudes. I am a recent widow who misses her husband terribly. Working as a volunteer for Opera San Jose has helped me come to terms with my grief.

Because of the many opportunities I've been given to use my talents and the many kind, sociable, and interesting people I've met, I can honestly say that Opera San Jose and Friends of Opera San Jose has given me a platform on which to rebuild my life!