By Judith Kleinberg, Knight Foundation Program Director for San Jose and Silicon Valley
Saturday, May 7th, 2011, was “Knight night” at Opera San José, a free night of opera made possible by a grant from Knight Foundation. The beautifully restored downtown California Theatre was the scene of a capacity crowd to attend a performance of Puccini’s la bohème, one of the most performed and beloved operas in the world.
Opera San José is a professional, regional opera company that is unique in the United States. Maintaining a resident company of principal artists, this company specializes in fresh, new talent, showcasing the finest young professional singers in the nation in the first years of their careers.
What was special about the audience that night was it was made up of people who had never been to the San Jose opera before. Using a zip code targeted database and comparing addresses to people who had previously attended Opera San José, only those who had never attended before were offered free tickets in an effort to introduce them to this exciting opera company and inspire them to become opera lovers who will support this wonderful cultural asset in San Jose.
The audience was a sea of diversity from teens with their grandparents to young couples holding hands throughout the performance of this tragic love story. As the curtain came down on the final act, the performers were rewarded with an enthusiastic standing ovation from the appreciative audience.
A survey is currently being conducted to determine whether their enthusiasm will translate into a new interest in attending the opera. The hope is that many of the night’s attendees will become new opera subscribers which will help sustain the organization and continue to provide opera lovers with the excitement of live opera in the “capital of Silicon Valley.”