Donor Profile: Frank Fiscalini

by Carolle Carter

Frank FiscaliniFrank Fiscalini, a former San Jose City Councilman and Vice-Mayor, has been involved with Opera San José since it began as the Opera Workshop in 1977. “At the time Irene Dalis returned to San Jose from New York and founded the Opera Workshop at San Jose State,” Frank commented, “I was Superintendent of the Eastside Union High School District and we had just built Independence High, with a 500 seat theater. Irene called and asked about the theater, as the Opera Workshop had no proper place to perform. We arranged for the Workshop to perform in our theater.”

“I don’t know of any opera star who has done in retirement what Irene Dalis has done: come back to her home town and establish a new opera company. Besides her talent and star quality, her keen mind and understanding of the business end of opera has been invaluable. She is retiring as Director at the end of this season, but of course she will stay on the Board.”

Frank has served on the Opera San José Board for many years, although not continuously. Currently he is on the Governance Committee, a new committee formed to work on policies that affect the operation of the Board. “Financing the arts is a challenge in this climate and opera is an expensive art form, but people need to realize what an important asset this company is to our community because of its uniqueness. The arts add balance, the relaxing side of life. People should know how entertaining and uplifting opera is.”

“We do not have a sufficient pool of large donors supporting Opera San José (OSJ). However, our new master plan should help us with future fundraising. Those who are capable of sustaining the arts need to do so in order to enrich the community. People give money when they think what they are supporting is important. I tell people about the kind of company OSJ is and if they haven’t seen an opera I encourage them to attend. I tell them there’s lots of beauty, there’s ambience, scenery. It’s amazing what can be done on that stage. The repertoire is always one that is important to the singers as well as good entertainment. We must choose operas that utilize our singers’ voices.”

“OSJ does a great deal of work with the schools”, Frank explained. “School groups are often brought in to watch rehearsals. When children are exposed to opera at a young age they learn there’s nothing to fear about it, that it is an art form to love. I am hopeful that there’s a movement to expand the arts programs in the schools.”