Company History

Opera San José is a professional opera company located in the heart of Silicon Valley. Singular in the United States, Opera San José maintains a resident company of principal artists serving as an incubator for emerging operatic talent. Opera San José presents mainstage productions and concerts, and maintains extensive educational programs for the community at large. Most recently, the company has developed the Heiman Digital Media Studio and Initiative.  This fully outfitted media lab allows for a new programming arm of the company to produced and design works specifically for digital capture.

Opera San José was founded in 1984 by mezzo-soprano late Irene Dalis, who served as General Director for 30 years. Maestro 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. Upon Ms. Dalis’ retirement in 2014, Larry Hancock stepped into the role of General Director and Joseph Marcheso was named as Music Director and Principal Conductor. Upon Mr. Hancock’s retirement in Fall 2019, Khori Dastoor, assumed the position of General Director.

Opera San José maintains four performance programs: a mainstage subscription series of four operas; a digital programming arm that includes fully produced operas and recitals; a richly varied curriculum of educational programs for youth and adults; community-wide performances that include outdoor concerts and events, serving the public as well as private organizations.

At the conclusion of the 2019-20 season (its 36th), Opera San José presented 150 opera productions, including five world premieres among the 62 titles in its repertoire. The number of K-12 educational performances over the same period will amount to more than 2,350. Community programming for adult audiences will total nearly 3,400 performances. The company has commissioned and produced seven world premieres, and has presented six west coast premieres.  In March of 2019, in the onset of COVID-19, the company announced its first performance cancelation in its history simultaneously launching the COVID-19 Artists and Musician Relief Fund one of the first of its kind in the nation.

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 in the 1990s. After a meticulous reconstruction and restoration, the California Theatre was returned to use as one of the region’s most important performance facilities. On July 11, 2020 Opera San José premiered its first digital program produced and captured in the Fred Heiman Digital Media Studio located in the company’s rehearsal and administrative buiding.

Well managed from its inception, Opera San José has never incurred debt. The company has continually nurtured a modest cash reserve and has acquired, two 24,000 sq. ft. operations facilities, and two apartment buildings used for artist housing. The company received notification on Nov. 1, 2019 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.

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.