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Opera San José Board member, Dr. Andrea Neves, was born in Merced County. She taught at Stanford, where she earned her doctorate, and is a retired Professor of Education from Sonoma State University, an award winning scholar, philanthropist, world traveler, and passionate opera lover. “I have loved opera since I was a child,” she said, “and I bought my first opera recording when I was seven years old. It was Rigoletto.”

“Where I grew up everyone took music lessons in school starting in second grade. We all played a song flute. In fourth grade we could pick the instrument we wanted to learn. The schools had the instruments and music instruction and participation continued all through high school. I am concerned that people now are failing to recognize the multiple ways that learning to play an instrument benefits a youngster. If a child learns music, he learns math.”

Dr. Neves went to her first live opera in San Francisco when she was in high school. “I’ll never forget it. It was “La traviata.” Her favorite opera is Lucia di Lammermoor, which she hopes Opera San José will perform again. Coming to Opera San José the first time was an eye-opening experience for her. “The opera goers were friendly and easy to get to know. So were the singers. I want the people of this area to realize what a gem Opera San José is, how good it is and how accessible it is. I like that it is a resident company.”

Dr. Neves joined the Opera San José Board in 2012. She recognizes that Irene Dalis’ retirement will bring changes to the organization, but she says “Our Board members are knowledgeable about opera. They are from varied backgrounds and bring differing perspectives to meetings. It is a strong, working Board and we have a new Development Director.” Andrea believes the great challenge the Board must deal with is getting younger Silicon Valley entrepreneurs involved in the arts, both as attendees and as donors. “Opera San José does a lot to enrich the community and to introduce those who haven’t been exposed to opera to the art form. It goes into the schools, performs in the libraries, visits hi-tech companies and brings all the glories of operatic music. They respond and buy tickets, but we always need more donors.”

“We want the public to realize that to be a well-rounded individual you need to have a good liberal arts background. Anyone planning to donate to Opera San José knows the money will be well spent. There is no arts organization that is more deserving.”