Opera San Jose opens 40th season on a high note

The company celebrated four decades of artistry with an elegant dinner before the season-opening “Romeo and Juliet.”

Last Saturday night, Opera San Jose celebrated its 40th season with an elegant anniversary dinner that would have lived up to the high expectations of the company’s late founder, Irene Dalis.

The dinner was hosted by Opera San Jose’s Emeritus Council at Il Fornaio at the Westin San Jose — still known as the Sainte Claire Hotel to this crowd — and included a number of staff, performers, and supporters from the company’s four decades, including former General Manager Larry Hancock, Opera San Jose Music Director Joseph Marcheso, San Jose Chamber Orchestra Music Director Barbara Day Turner, Susan Gundunas, Stephen Guggenheim, Sandra Rubalcava-Ben

Then it was off to the California Theatre for the premiere of “Romeo and Juliet,” a French adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy by Charles Gounod that Opera San Jose hasn’t performed in over two decades. San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan and Opera San Jose General Director Shawna Lucey, who reflected on the company’s milestone, introduced the compelling production.

Irene Dalis, a mezzo-soprano who performed with the Metropolitan Opera in New York, founded Opera San Jose in 1984, expanding on a workshop she started at San Jose State University with the goal of developing future opera stars rather than bringing in established ones. The San Jose native, affectionately known as “Miss Dalis” by all, died in 2014 at the age of 89.

“I know that when Irene had the vision to found this fantastic opera company, she knew she was making something profound and innovative, defining the future of America’s opera singers, artists, and craftsmanship,” said Lucey, who also directed “Romeo and Juliet.”

Dr. Judy Morgan, a pet care expert, will be a special guest this Saturday at Bark in the Park, widely regarded as the largest dog festival in the United States, attracting more than 10,000 people and 3,000 dogs to William Street Park in San Jose. Morgan, who promotes natural healing therapies and opposes chemicals and low-quality foods, will give two live presentations and sell copies of her books.

This is Bark in the Park’s 25th year — 175 in dog years — and the sponsoring Campus Community Association has made sure to include all of the activities that people have come to expect, such as agility course demonstrations, dog costume contests, and dog-owner lookalike contests. Of course, there will be plenty of vendors on hand, as well as the Humane Society Silicon Valley, which will be providing vaccines for a donation.

It takes place at the park on the corner of William and South 16th Street from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and a $10 donation is requested for each adult attendee. Children under the age of 12 and dogs are admitted free, and proceeds benefit the Humane Society, the San Jose Animal Care Center, and other local nonprofits. More information is available at www.barksanjose.org.

GOOGLE SCORES: It was difficult to predict the first Creekside Social event, which took place last Saturday in the footprint of Google’s Downtown West project. Jamestown did an excellent job organizing a creative, interactive block party spread across a few parking lots on a short stretch of Barack Obama Boulevard.

You could watch artists paint live, eat food truck/pop-up fare from Het Say, Mezcal, Barya, Cantu’s BBQ, and others, or listen to live music and DJ sets on two stages. They even set up tables with chessboards, which drew some attention. Gooseberry Designs, the Capsmith, and Woofboard were among the small-business vendors on the Maker’s Row. There was so much going on that you could miss all of Google executives’ and various politicians’ speeches — including Rep. Zoe Lofgren and San Jose Mayor — and not even realize it.

Two major pluses: the warehouses and other buildings across the street were brightly painted, making them feel like they were a part of the event even though they weren’t. Good Karma Bikes also provided a complimentary bike valet, which cyclists appreciated.

More activations will take place in the area between Santa Clara and San Fernando streets in the coming weeks, including outdoor yoga sessions with Olivia Skinner (mostly in the evening, with one morning session scheduled) and STEAM activities for youth organized by the Two Bit Foundation. You can stay up to date by visiting www.creeksidessocials.com.

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