Share your memories of OSJ Founder, Irene Dalis

dalis_25_year_anniv_lo_resDear OSJ Supporter,

Please click on the  “leave a comment link” to share any special memories you may have of Irene Dalis and/or comments you have for the Opera San José family.

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. heidi2013

    Miss you so much, Ms. Dalis. Love, Lettie

  2. Amy Worden

    Even in my few years, there are many. Her inimitable “toi toi toi” (spitting over the left shoulder), which I still miss to this day. Her throaty voice, saying “Honey, I like you. You are someone who likes to get things done”. The outreach at Cetrella in Half Moon Bay, where she said “Honey, you’re family”, and gave me a hug. Her laser like eyes at rehearsal. Her smile. The music. But most of all, I treasure the people that I met at Opera San Jose; friends, and my true love. Thank you, Irene, for this gift.

  3. Elena Danielson

    Back when OSJ was at the Montgomery Theater I thought one newspaper review missed the quality achieved in a performance and wrote a letter to the editor saying it was a beer and pretzel review of a champagne and caviar performance. The morning the letter appeared in print our phone rang and a mellifluous voice said “Good Morning, this is Irene Dalis…” and she thanked me for the letter. Later I knew her better and attended her 89th birthday party on October 8, 2014. I said how appropriate that her papers were going to the San Jose State Archives because there is also a Beethoven collection there. She said –not missing a beat — “I am a graduate of San Jose State, and Beethoven isn’t.”

  4. Meredy Amyx

    Irene Dalis: a true star. Her second career as founder and guiding force of OSJ has been as amazing as her first, on the stage. I’ve been a regular attendee at OSJ performances ever since the first preseason production of “Cosi fan tutte” at the Montgomery in 1983. I was just an audience member, nobody special, but I enjoyed numerous intermission chats with Ms. Dalis over the years. She was unfailingly cordial and seemed to radiate energy even from a wheelchair. I remain an admirer and will continue to appreciate her legacy. My condolences to all her friends and family in the music world, and best wishes to Larry Hancock as he continues what she began.

  5. Linda Riebel

    To everyone who reads this: Please know that I will save and collect stories about our beloved Irene Dalis and add them to the second edition of the book (Irene Dalis: Diva, Impresaria, Legend). I had the great honor and pleasure of spending many hours with her while writing it, and will with pride expand on the memories she has created for so many people. So even if you have a small memory or reaction or bit of dialogue, you are warmly encouraged to enter them here or send them to me at
    Linda Riebel

  6. Richard James

    Irene gave me my first real job in professional theatre, doing the lighting design for Gianni Schicchi and The Mother. That’s when productions were in the Center for Performing Arts. When I spoke with her at San Jose’s Cornerstone of the Arts Award, of which she was the recipient, she remembered what a barn the CPA was and how much stage there was to fill for the audience. She also said she didn’t know what the “hell” she was doing at that early time in the life of an opera company. Funny, everyone around her thought she knew exactly what she was doing, and my – she did do it so well. We’ll miss you Miss Dalis.

  7. Barbara Brosh

    I did not know Miss Dalis personally, but I so appreciate what she has done for San Jose. The luxury of having a quality opera program in our area is not available in many places. I have been introduced to her at the opera and she was always so gracious. My heartfelt condolences go out to all of us, especially her family and friends. We have lost a true treasure, but I know Larry, the staff, the singers and the Board of Directors will keep her legacy going. But what a lovely light has gone out in our lives.!

  8. Yang Smith

    From The Metropolitan Opera,

    Remembering Irene Dalis (1925-­2014)

    December 16, 2014

    The Metropolitan Opera mourns the death of mezzo-soprano Irene Dalis who sang 22 roles and 274 performances here from 1957 to 1976. She is remembered for a powerful dramatic voice that allowed her to take on a wide range of demanding parts from Amneris in Aida, her most frequent role, to Kundry in Parsifal and the Nurse in the Met premiere of Die Frau ohne Schatten. A consummate professional, she was admired by audiences and colleagues alike. We extend our sincerest condolences to her family and friends.

  9. Miss Dalis came down to the musicians’ room at the California Theatre — it seems like only yesterday — to thank the orchestra for our playing. It was so moving, as she was, at that point, having to use a walker to get there and it wasn’t an easy trek. It wasn’t surprising, though, as she always thanked us and made us feel included and loved.

    Her strength, her grace, her musicality … she was such a FORCE and she will be greatly missed by the orchestra.

    After the opening of Anna Karenina there was an reception next door to the theater and I finally had the opportunity to thank her for all she had done. I wish I could have thanked her at each and every opera. I will miss her sorely.

  10. Andrew Eisenmann

    My first and foremost memory of Ms. Dalis was the day that I showed up at SJSU, an overweight middle school show choir teacher who, overnight, decided she wanted to be an opera singer, knocked on her door and told her that I wanted to audition for her. She said, cigarette in hand…that being said, she had the most powerful haircut I’ve ever seen and it was always perfect…”Honey, if you want to be a singer you have to have thick skin…you also have to know that there’s room for everyone at the top…I made it and I was a regular girl from San Jose, so you can do the same thing if you choose to”. She created a residency position for me during a year that OSJ would have three baritones. She let me build a basement ‘apartment’ in the Delmas House and literally paved the road to a career for me. I had regular meetings with her, sometimes after each performance, and even on my worst nights, she was encouraging…honest, but encouraging! When I left to come back to the classroom, my first love, she was the MOST supportive of the decision and remained encouraging as I recently opened a theatre in a high school geared for performing arts. THANKS, Irene, for everything you did, and are still doing, for me! I’m certain that you’re in the top-tier of heaven.

  11. Maria Nockin

    I remember Irene Dalis from many years ago at the Met when she sang great performances year after year. I have just heard that one of her San Jose sopranos, Cecilia Violetta Lopez has a contract at the Met. It shows how her many years in San Jose has benefitted opera lovers in the US.

  12. Rita Horiguchi

    I just now saw this beautiful picture of Irene on OSJ’s web site. I am fighting back tears.

    I got to know Irene Dalis a little over the past two years as I worked to re-establish the Friends of Opera San Jose volunteer auxiliary, which disbanded in 1989. I’ve known her to be incredibly supportive and gracious.

    When I played a silent, supernumerary role as Mother Nature in Hansel and Gretel last year, I happened to run into Irene quite unexpectedly. When we bumped into each other, she said, “YOU are fantastic! You are FANTASTIC in that role.”

    I couldn’t see myself, and I couldn’t tell–I’d just been working hard to do my best. I will never be able to convey how much what she said meant to me…Irene Dalis’s incredibly gracious support made me shine!

    And as I see it, that’s the key: with all her incredible talent and drive, she paid attention to others and helped them. From the most accomplished young singer to a Friends of Opera San Jose volunteer, to an inexperienced supernumerary like me, IRENE DALIS MADE PEOPLE SHINE! I

    By the way, one way to support her legacy is to join our volunteer auxiliary, Friends of Opera San Jose. Just go here:

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