Our Mission, Vision, and Values:
Festival Opera strives to advance the operatic art form, and to build community by producing culturally rich and diverse programming to enlighten, educate, and entertain at the highest artistic standard.
We believe in a world where the historic barriers of our theatre are broken down, a world in which we provide the community with an invitation and a safe space for all people to gather and experience the power of music. We continue to care for our artists by providing a venue where their gifts are nurtured and their collaboration is encouraged to make the most meaningful performance experience possible. We strive through our orchestra, the unamplified human voice, and the culmination of all the artistic disciplines involved in our productions to convey the deeply human stories that the operatic repertoire uniquely embodies.
We commit to:
Community building through culturally rich and diverse programming
Increased equity and access for underrepresented communities
Producing operatic and vocal masterworks with the highest artistic standards
Creating a safe space for all artists and audience members to create and experience the transformative power of opera
Providing exceptional emerging talent with the roles and resources to advance their careers
Collaborating with local educational institutions, creating opportunities for artist development and cultural enrichment
Creating new works, reviving old repertoire, and to be a driving force for the future of operatic expression
Founded in 1991 by Dr. Theodore Weis, who, twenty years earlier had helped create the Arizona Opera Company in Tucson. Past leadership includes the artistic direction tenures of famed soprano Olivia Stapp, Maestro Michael Morgan of the Oakland Symphony, and is currently led by Zachary Gordin. Festival Opera is committed to presenting emerging and local artists in compelling and socially relevant productions of new and classic repertoire. Festival Opera gives emerging artists a venue to hone their craft in leading roles with the guidance and collaboration of established professionals - providing a vital launching pad for their professional future. FO alums have gone on to perform in major opera houses and symphony halls around the globe. Memorable past stagings include Mozart’s Don Giovanni set in a contemporary nightclub, Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins highlighting the human and political struggles we face, Floyd’s Susannah echoing the #metoo movement, and Massenet’s Werther set in the 1950s.
“Ensembles that can mount programs such as this one deepen the richness of a region’s musical life. Let the light shine on Festival Opera.”
- Steven Winn, San Francisco Classical Voice
“Everything about Puccini’s opera Turandot is big: big orchestra, big voices, big chorus, enormous sets, and massive emotions. So it is daring for a company the size of Festival Opera to undertake such a giant. But no need to worry, for this is a triumphant Turandot. Last Saturday’s opening night audience, at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek, indicated this by its unstinting cheers and applause.” - James Keolker, San Francisco Classical Voice
“The East Bay’s indispensable Festival Opera has been doing pretty much everything right. The company’s most recent offering… was canny, affecting and beautifully economical. You really couldn’t have asked for more.”
- Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle