Silicon Valley companies pull in all sorts of celebrities and theatrical acts for lunchtime entertainment to keep techies tethered to their corporate campuses. That gave the folks at Opera San José an idea. What if they took advantage of those captive audiences to make a pitch for opera?
Enter “Arias in the Office,” a new pop-up series touring South Bay tech companies this fall. “The idea is to bring what we do to people who are fans and to people who’ve never heard it,” said Aaron Nicholson, director of marketing and development for Opera San José.
On a recent sunny Tuesday at noon, people passing through the lobby of Adobe’s West Tower in San Jose were confronted by soprano Katherine Gunnink soaring through a performance of the famous aria “Ch’il Bel Sogno” by the 19th century Italian composer Giacomo Puccini, accompanied on the piano by Veronika Agranov-Dafoe.
These pop-up performances are not only designed to sell tickets to full concerts, but also to introduce people to the very concept of opera. Many of those present in the audience at Adobe were opera newbies.
Among them was Adobe employee Jyh-Jiun Liu, who’s lived in nearby Sunnyvale for 25 years but had no clue of Opera San José’s existence until she heard the company’s singers performing in the lobby. She said she hasn’t paid much attention to opera in the past, but was impressed by what she heard. “I really like it,” she said. “So if I see they will have a performance, maybe I will purchase a ticket.”