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San Diego Opera Office (1974-) | Special Collections & University Archives

Name: San Diego Opera Office (1974-)
Variant Name: San Diego Opera Association, San Diego Opera Company, San Diego Opera

Historical Note:

San Diego Opera, with roots back to the formation of the San Diego Opera Guild in 1950, took its present administrative form in 1974, with the creation of the San Diego Opera Association.  The San Diego Opera Office's work focuses on the company's production and performance of opera both during the regular season and for special programs and series.

In 1976, with the passing of founding Director Walter Herbert, the San Diego Opera Association hired Tito Capobianco, formerly of the New York City Opera, as General Director of the San Diego Opera.  Capobianco's tenure saw the San Diego Opera gain international renown.  He introduced an annual summer Verdi Festival, which usually featured two operas, one a late composition and the other from Verdi's "galley years."  Capobianco also expanded the regular season to six productions, and brought such renowned opera superstars as Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavarotti, and Beverly Sills to San Diego opera audiences.

In 1983, the SDOA hired a new General Director, Ian Campbell, formerly of Opera Australia and the New York Metropolitan Opera.  Campbell restored fiscal stability to the San Diego Opera, and has worked throughout his tenure to increase San Diego Opera's audience.  While the Verdi Festival only continued through 1985, he expanded the regular season, and introduced a new concert program designed to bring internationally renowned opera stars to San Diego.  His work with the North American Voices Project adds contemporary American operas to the traditional repertoire performed at San Diego Opera each year.

Notable artists who have performed with San Diego Opera include Luciano Pavarotti, Beverly Sills, Joan Sutherland, Richard Bonynge, Richard Leech, Placido Domingo, and Renee Fleming.  San Diego Opera has staged the World Premieres of numerous productions, including Myron Fink's The Conquistador, Gian Carlo Menotti's La Loca, and Alva Henderson's Medea.  Also significant are the United States Premieres of such operas as Daniel Catan's Rapaccini's Daughter, Hanz Werner Henze's The Young Lord, Ricardo Zandonai's Giulietta e Romeo, and Emmanuel Chabrier's Gwendoline.  Other notable performances include Beverly Sills' farewell performance opposite Joan Sutherland in Die Fledermaus, and the commissioned Zandra Rhodes productions of The Magic Flute and The Pearl Fishers.

San Diego Opera is ranked by OPERA America as one of the top 10 opera companies in the United States, and was recently honored as one of 13 "Cornerstone Arts Organizations" by the James Irvine Foundation. In addition, San Diego Opera is the only San Diego arts organization to receive an almost perfect ranking from both the California Arts Council and the City of San Diego Commission for Arts & Culture.

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