For Dr. Richard Dorsay, opera was love at first sight. He saw his first live performance as a senior in high school—Marian Anderson, singing Ulrica in A Masked Ball—and was so moved that he became a lifelong fan. He attended college in the Boston area, and “when I came home for the holidays, I would head straight to the Metropolitan Opera box office to buy single seats in the family circle. I think it cost $1.75 back then!”
After graduating from Tufts University and Medical School, Dr. Dorsay went on to become a radiologist. He retired from Kaiser Hospital– South San Francisco, where he served as chief of radiology for fifteen years. Living in the South Bay, Dr. Dorsay bought tickets to Opera San José’s first season (1984-1985) and has been a dedicated supporter of the company ever since. “Opera San José is the only opera company in the United States that is based on the German model: they hire young singers for extended contracts, and give them stage experience singing major roles. The artists live and work together, and as a result, Opera San José’s performances have a cohesiveness and vitality that eludes many larger companies. In the recent production of Faust, the principal singers left me with an entirely new understanding of their characters, despite my having seen the opera numerous times in the past, sung by world famous opera stars.”
Today, Dr. Dorsay’s commitment to Opera San José goes beyond a season subscription. In 2010, he was invited by Miss Dalis to join the Board of Directors, a role that he enjoys for its opportunity to be more involved with shaping and securing the company’s future. “As a member of Opera San José’s Board of Directors, I want our donors to know that we are very careful with our funds.”
Dr. Dorsay is also a charter member of the Irene Dalis Legacy Society. By bequeathing a portion of their estate to Opera San José through a living trust, Dr. Dorsay and his wife, Dorothy, are able to maintain control of their assets throughout their lifetime while leaving a gift to the company that will be exempt from federal estate taxes.
Finally, although he says that traditional fundraising is not in his nature, Dr. Dorsay is a strong advocate for the company, bringing friends to Opera San José events to introduce them to the world of opera. “I believe that opera would have much broader support if more people would just go to one performance—I think that many of them would fall in love with it, as I did. I have had the privilege of bringing several friends to Opera San José performances and special events like the Irene Dalis Vocal Competition – people who had never been to an opera before, and who now attend regularly.”
In addition to his board membership with Opera San José, Dr. Dorsay serves as the international chairman of the San Jose East Evergreen Rotary Club. A certified Enneagram instructor since 2002, Dorsay trains people in using a system of nine personality profiles to help them understand themselves and others better. He and his wife, Dorothy, also support a primary school in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, raising money to build and furnish classrooms for hundreds of children.