Former Metropolitan Opera principal singer Irene Dalis founded Opera San Jose in 1984 with two goals: financial prudence and the cultivation of young talent, some of which came from the opera program she oversaw at San Jose State University. Dalis – still the company’s general director – appears to have succeeded in both goals. With seasons that lean heavily on the standard repertoire with occasional forays into lesser-known works (the 2010-11 season, for example, included Tosca, The Barber of Seville, La Boheme and the west coast premiere of David Carlson’s Anna Karenina), the company has always operated in the black and maintained a small reserve.
The company underwent an artistic and aesthetic boost in 2004 when it moved from the 500-seat Montgomery Theater to the remodeled 1920s-vintage California Theatre, more than doubling its seating capacity and immeasurably adding to the overall ambience with a courtyard, ornate chandeliers, two organs and a vaulted ceiling – plus a stage two and a half times larger.
Opera San Jose nurtures a substantial group of up-and-coming singers, providing them with rent-free accommodations in apartments it owns in addition to offering vocal coaching and prominent roles in its productions. Since 2007 the company has also conducted the Irene Dalis Vocal Competition, awarding $50,000 in prize money to promising young artists. A variety of educational and community outreach programs seek to make opera more accessible to school and adult audiences.
Opera San Jose Information
- Public Transportation: Excellent (steps from buses 66, 68, 82, and 304 at South 1st Street/East San Salvador Street; and a 5-minute walk from several other bus and streetcar stops)
- Handicapped Accessibility: Good
- Performances/Programs: 3–4 per season with multiple performances of each
- Ticket Prices: $51–$101, with prices varying by seating selection
- Subscriptions: Three-show subscription $75–$255, depending on seats selected
- Membership: Donations from $100–$15,000+ are welcome. Donor benefits include a newsletter and a listing in the program donor pages for the final production of the season. At the $4,000 level, donors receive access to the California Theatre’s VIP lounge.