New Opera San Jose general director Khori Dastoor is wasting no time making her mark with the company.
On Tuesday, she announced a new season that includes bold new versions of two classic operas, a staging of Richard Strauss’ provocative and controversial “Salome” and the company premiere of the beloved musical “West Side Story.”
Even performance starting times will be different.
Dastoor joined Opera San Jose as a performer in 2007, and has held artistic/administrative positions with the company since 2012. She was named the company’s third general director in October, succeeding Larry Hancock.
Dastoor has said she aims to make Opera San Jose relevant to a wider, more diverse base of music lovers, and the company’s new season certainly bears that out. Here’s what’s planned for 2020-21 campaign.
“The Marriage of Figaro” Sept. 12-27): This ain’t your grandfather’s version of the Mozart gem. Opera San Jose is planning a newly reimagined version that sets the action in colonial India during British rule and includes a colorful Indian wedding that will “bring the exuberance and festivity of Bollywood to the California Theatre stage.”
“Carmen” (Nov. 14-29): Bizet’s masterpiece will feature a new adaptation by Lillian Groag that adds emphasis to the onstage choreography and marks a collaboration with the acclaimed Flamenco Society of San Jose.
“Salome” (Feb. 13-28): Strauss’ 100-minute work has probably prompted as many protests and censures as critical raves. Drawn from Oscar Wilde’s sexually charged play, “Salome” tells the story of John the Baptist and the scorned woman who does him in. Director Matthew Ozawa makes his debut with Opera San Jose, which promises a set and look that will rival the provocative tale.
Dastoor said the season was inspired in part by the legacy of late Opera San Jose founder and first director Irene Dalis, whom Dastoor called “completely ahead of her time,” and by the company’s setting in a fast-changing area known for its innovation.
“My charge is to adapt Irene’s values for the modern era, expanding our mission to further innovation in all aspects of the art form and better serve the diverse community of San Jose and the greater Bay Area,” she said.
The company also said it will move back the starting times on evening performances to 7:30 p.m. and on matinees to 2 p.m.
“We heard from many patrons that they would prefer to get home earlier,” said Dastoor, “and we’re happy to respond with earlier show times.”