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Opera San José is a professional, regional opera company that is unique in the United States. Maintaining a resident company of principal artists, Opera San José specializes in showcasing the finest young professional singers in the nation. In addition to mainstage performances, Opera San José maintains extensive educational programs in schools and in the community at large, and offers preview lectures and Introduction to Opera talks for all mainstage productions.

Opera San José was founded in 1984 by the late Irene Dalis, who was general director for 30 years, retiring in 2014. David Rohrbaugh was a founding member of Opera San José’s artistic staff. Prior to his retirement in 2014, Dr. Rohrbaugh conducted more than 70 productions and more than 600 performances for Opera San José. Larry Hancock, who has been with the organization even before it was incorporated, became General Director in 2014. Also in 2014, Joseph Marcheso became Music Director and Principal Conductor. Upon Mr. Hancock’s retirement in 2019, OSJ’s Deputy General Director and Artistic Planning Director, Ms. Khori Dastoor, assumed the position of General Director.

In the United States, Opera San José is unique with its resident company of principal artists. These artists, in the first years of their careers, are identified and awarded annual contracts to perform leading roles in mainstage productions and to participate in school and community-wide educational activities. These singers are groomed for international performing careers. Due to the resident nature of the company, modeled after the German regional opera company, these artists build substantial professional repertoire, are coached by resident and guest conductors and stage directors, and are prepared to meet the demands of a successful operatic career.

California TheatreOpera San José maintains three performance programs: a mainstage subscription series of four operas; a richly varied curriculum of educational programs for youth and adults; and community-wide performances that include outdoor concerts, performances at libraries and retirement communities, performances for clubs and other organizations.

By the conclusion of the 2019-20 season (its 36th), Opera San José will have presented 152 opera productions, including five world premieres among the 64 titles in its repertoire. The number of K-12 educational performances over the same period will amount to more than 2,300. Community programming for adult audiences will total nearly 3,200 performances. Audience figures for the 2018-19 season totaled approximately 113,000 through all areas of company programming.

On September 18, 2004, Opera San José opened its debut season in the California Theatre. The 1,100-seat auditorium joins the select ranks of the world’s most intimate opera houses. The California Theatre was a 1927 vaudeville and film house that closed its doors 30 years ago. After reconstruction and restoration, the California Theatre was returned to use as one of the region’s most important performance facilities.

Well managed from its inception, Opera San José has never incurred debt. The company has continually nurtured a modest cash reserve and has acquired, with no debt, two 24,000 sq. ft. operations facilities, and two apartment buildings (fourteen units total) for free artist housing. The company was recently notified that it had received another four-star rating from Charity Navigator for its record of responsible fiscal management, its ninth four-star rating in a ten-year period.

Opera San José is funded by the city of San José and many major corporations and foundations including Applied Materials, The Packard Humanities Institute, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and many others.

Mission Statement

Opera San José is dedicated to maintaining a resident company of opera singers with whom we present compelling, professional opera performances, while creating and providing cultural and educational programs that both enrich the opera-going experience and encourage future generations of artists and audiences. Opera San José also provides technical assistance to other organizations.


Founded in 1984, Opera San José is unique in that it is the only year-long resident opera company in the nation. Members of the resident company form the core of the artistic staff for main-stage productions as well as educational programs.


Opera San José will:
1. Maintain a professional, fiscally responsible opera company of artistic excellence for San  José and its environs;
2. Discover, retain and develop outstanding, emerging professional singers;
3. Provide these singers with repeated performance opportunities;
4. Develop, entertain, and educate audiences from the extended community.

Modified and approved by the Opera San José Board of Directors on April 22, 2015.