José Luis Moscovich
61st Season 2016-17
West Bay Opera was established in 1956. Henry Holt, it’s founder, was a concert pianist and conductor in Vienna, in the 1930’s, and was known there as Hans Horwitz. He had a successfull touring carrer and gave a final performance under Arturo Toscanini before leaving for the US, where he first settled in New York City. He was active as an accompanist and vocal coach for well-known opera singers, and he also toured. In 1955 he and his wife, Maria, settled in Palo Alto. He formed an opera workshop called the “Little Opera Guild.”
Initially, the work of the Little Opera Guild was limited to presentations of operatic exerpts with piano accompaniment. The workshops soon developed into full productions, and West Bay Opera was born. Local residents participated in the chorus, and singers from throughout the San Francisco Bay Area appeared in the principal roles.
Following Henry Holt's death in 1969, his wife, the late Maria Holt, guided the company as General Director for nearly three decades. Under Maria Holt's leadership, West Bay Opera continued to grow and develop.
The West Bay Opera orchestra was established in 1974. In 1982, the large community of opera supporters made it possible for the company to acquire a home of its own. The company acquired the lot at 221 Lambert Avenue in Palo Alto and built the Holt Building. Today this facility provides space for rehearsals, administrative offices, a costume shop, and set and properties storage.
Maria Holt passed away in 1996 and was succeeded by Maestro David Sloss. During the early 2000’s the company experienced financial troubles. Mtro. Sloss resigned as General Director in 2004. After an international search, the Board appointed Maestro José Luis Moscovich as the new General Director in July 2006. Under his leadership, the company began a turnaround, eliminating operating deficits and returning to financial stability, and also diversifying its support base, creative team and especially its repertoire. During his decade at the helm, the company has presented, to critical acclaim, works previously not considered within its reach, including Samson et Dalila, La forza del destino, Pike Dame, Der Freischütz, La vida breve, and Aida, among others. The company has continue to stregthen its commitment to artistic excellence and community involvement, and gained national recognition as a leading regional opera company, as a veritable force energizing interest in and support for the local performing arts, and as a springboard for artistic careers.
WEST BAY OPERA thanks the following organizations for their ongoing support:
The Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation
The Janet V. Lee Trust
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Photo: Keira Heu-Jwyn Chang