“I believe that it is vital to leave a legacy of what one considers an important part of one’s life,” says Jeanne McCann, one of the Vice Presidents of the Opera San José Board, who recently underwrote OSJ’s production of Rossini’s Italian Girl in Algiers. Sponsoring this production was “an extension of what I’ve been doing for years. It’s about passion; the next step up from sponsoring our singers.” Supporting the Artists Fellowship Program, Jeanne has sponsored many of our artists throughout the company’s thirty seasons, and has followed their careers for years. Through the bond they have formed with her, she has become mentor, friend and family member—a true patron in the original sense of the word.
The Italian Girl in Algiers was a wonderful fit for Jeanne, as she serves on the Cultural Committee of the Italian-American Heritage Foundation. She commented that Rossini’s light-hearted work “is in the genre that I love, and besides liking Italian opera, I love the food and exuberance of the people.”
Jeanne came to San José with her late husband, Jack, in 1972. Simultaneously, Irene Dalis returned to her hometown after a brilliant international opera career, and started the Opera Workshop with San José State University. “Our lives crossed when I joined Friends of the Opera,” the guild whose volunteers started by supporting the Opera Workshop. “Music has always spoken to me, opened doors for me, and speaks to my soul. I believe that it enlarges everyone’s world. We have such a wonderful opera company here that has put San José on the map in a very positive way. We all care about our singers, and where their careers will take them. Being involved in Opera San José is so important on many levels. It is a nurturing, special company; one of a kind in our country and our board is so proud of this. We like to remind people that we do not import singers, we export them.”
Budgets are always a problem for opera companies. Jeanne invites others to join her. “What money you have you want to leave as a legacy for the future. We need to keep our passions in mind, put our bucks where our passions lie to sustain something that is this successful. If my sponsorship inspires someone else to sponsor a singer, or a production or to contribute at any level, we all win.”