San Diego Opera

Experience the powerful vocals and performances of the San Diego Opera. Whether you're an enthusiast or a newcomer, immerse yourself in beauty and emotion.
Todd Sarouhan
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San Diego Opera
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San Diego Opera
Things to Do
Getting There
San Diego Opera
Things to Do
Getting There

Experience the Exceptional Performances of the San Diego Opera

Spreckels Theater Sign for the Nutcracker in Core Columbia, Downtown San DiegoTrain Sitting at the Santa Fe Depot in San Diego

As the doors prepare to open for the 60th anniversary of the San Diego Opera, audiences can expect one thing: a celebration of tradition and innovation!

This monumental year will present operas from Giacomo Puccini, Richard Strauss and Giuseppe Verdi. It’s a singular promise to audiences that they can always expect the San Diego Opera to deliver grand productions, uplifting music, and stirring voices.

Mark your calendars because you won’t want to miss a single moment of this season.

The San Diego Opera: A Brief History

Founded on May 5, 1965, the company opened the opera with an English language production of “La Bohème” to a packed house.

It began humbly, presenting touring companies and productions from San Francisco and across the US to an audience of mainly local students. In 1965, the company began performing productions sung in English, slowly introducing the works in their original languages as the audience grew.

The San Diego Opera continued that success to become a respected member of the international opera community.

After nearly shutting down in 2014, a handful of passionate employees raised $2 million from the public. Over half of those donations were from first-time donors.

The San Diego Civic Theater
The San Diego Civic Theater

The Civic Theater: At a Glance

You can see the opera at the Civic Theater. Here is what you can expect when visiting.

  • At 11 stories tall - the theater stands out
  • 1,218 comfortably plush seats - including accessible-friendly seating
  • Close to several delicious restaurants
  • Nearby public transportation options

Entrance to the Balboa Theatre
Entrance to the Balboa Theatre

The Balboa Theater: At a Glance

You can also see the opera at the Balboa Theater. Here’s what you can expect when visiting that location?

  • A beautifully crafted 5 story building
  • 1,335 fold-down plush seats
  • Plenty of nearby restaurants - perfect for a complete date night/night on the town
  • Accessible by public transportation

Local Tips
Student Night at the Opera
Bring your student to the Opera! This program is limited to organized groups of youth and school groups and school groups only. (Public City and County Schools, Private Schools, and Home Schools registered with the Board of Education).

Tickets & Admission to the San Diego Opera

If you’re looking for the latest ticket and admission information for the 2024 season, you’ve come to the right place!

Tickets & Packages

Subscription trio packages are currently available for the Friday and Saturday 7:30 evening performances and the Sunday 2 PM matinee performance.

Tickets go on sale about two months before the show premieres for the year. However, if you want to ensure your seat, you have the option of purchasing a subscription. This subscription will give you access to three shows before the tickets even go on sale.

The price per ticket to these grand opera performances ranges from $55 for obstructed views to $705 for premier orchestra.

The prices change depending on your status. If you are:

  • In The Military
  • A Student
  • Part of a Group
  • A Subscriber

In such cases, the ticket prices are available at a discounted rate.

The best way to purchase your tickets is to go to the San Diego Opera’s website directly.

Due to the special 60th anniversary season, we recommend you purchase tickets ahead of time to ensure your seat.

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Performances, Past and Present, at the San Diego Opera

Balboa Theatre on Forth Ave
Balboa Theatre on Forth Ave

In a return to the opera’s roots, this season is proudly presenting Puccini’s La bohème, Strauss’ Salome, and Verdi’s La traviata.

After the first live performance of La bohème, the production was so popular; it has been continuously in rotation within the company.

The San Diego Opera’s production is unique in how it schedules their classic performances. Each year, they choose a handful of shows to put on. Each show then receives 4 to 5 days of scheduled showings.

Let’s take a quick look at what you can expect in 2024.

La bohème

Heralding the 60th season, La bohème will open on November 1st.

It is a story of four starving artists in 1830s Paris. On Christmas Eve, they encounter Mimi, a seamstress, in search of candle light.

Dates to know are November 1st, 2nd, & 3rd at the Civic Theater.


The season continues with Salome.

Inspired by Oscar Wilde’s play, it is a retelling of the biblical story and themes of John the Baptist, King Herod, and his step-daughter, Salome. Obsession, the desire for revenge, and lack of control drive the once controversial play.

Dates to know are March 21st, 22nd, and 23rd at the Civic Theater.

La traviata

The season concludes its 2024/2025 run with La traviata.

Also inspired by a literary work of art, this one being Alexandre Dumas’ novel “The Lady of the Camellias,” it follows Violetta, a successful 19th century Parisian courtesan, who finds true love and happiness but must sacrifice it all.

Dates to know are April 25th, 26th, and 27th at the Civic Theater.

Past Performances

Besides La bohème, there have been several other classic productions that the San Diego Opera routinely performs:

  • Madama Butterfly
  • A Masked Ball
  • The Daughter of the Regiment
  • We’ll Meet Again: The Songs of Kate Smith
  • Aging Magician

Famous Opera Singers at the San Diego Opera

The San Diego Opera is very prestigious and highly respected among the international opera community.

It’s no wonder then that celebrities within the opera community have also performed there, including:

  • Bobbie Ball-Bradley
  • Dame Joan Sutherland
  • Karen Valentino
  • Luciano Pavarotti
  • Plácido Domingo
  • Renée Fleming
  • Steve Howard
  • And many more…

Besides the renowned superstars of the local opera community, there are several famous opera singers within the San Diego Opera company.

You can still see these lovely faces on the stages of San Diego today:

  • Angel Blue
  • John Guerrero
  • Stephanie Blythe
  • Piotr Buszewski

This is just a sampling of the many famous performers to grace the stage in San Diego.

We also should not forget the conductors and directors, since they pour their heart and soul into ensuring these performances are the best they can be.

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Local Tips
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Visit the San Diego Opera, Civic Theatre, & Balboa Theatre For Year Round Events

San Diego Broadway at the San Diego Civic Theater
San Diego Broadway at the San Diego Civic Theater

If you want to catch a live performance, the stages are full of performances between October and April for the six months season. It is best to check the calendar for more information on showtimes and days before planning your visit.

However, when the opera company is not performing, both theaters offer a variety of events.

Additionally, the San Diego Opera Production engages in year-round community-driven efforts and events. They provide educational resources and community involvement opportunities to bring more people into the beautiful world of opera.

Including free events for the community throughout the year.

Pre-Opera Talks

Join the pre-opera talks ahead of performances in the main floor seating area.

Talks begin at 6:40 for evening performances and 1:10 PM for the Sunday matinee.

Post-Opera Talk Backs

10 minutes after curtain call, join the cast for an informal Q&A session at the Dress Circle section.

Learn more about both the onstage and backstage events of the performance.

Be aware, times and availability for both talks can change at any moment without notice. Please inquire beforehand to ensure availability.

Where are the Theaters? And What About Parking?

Side of the Balboa Theatre
Side of the Balboa Theatre

The San Diego opera company now operates from the following venue locations that are both within the heart of Downtown San Diego:

  • San Diego Civic Theatre
  • Balboa Theatre

Both venues offer different performances at different times. This provides equal opportunities for the public to immerse themselves in the beautiful world of opera.

In the heart of Downtown San Diego, the Civic Theatre provides ample space for audience members to enjoy a live performance.

The Balboa Theatre is just a few blocks south of the San Diego Civic Center.

View of the America Plaza Trolley Station from the Side Street
View of the America Plaza Trolley Station from the Side Street

The Easiest Way to Get Around Downtown San Diego

The Downtown San Diego electric FRED Shuttle makes getting all over the downtown area very easy and convenient.

You’ll want to download the app before you arrive and then you can call and pay a nominal charge for a shuttle to come pickup your group.

What this allows you to do is to park away from the immediate city center where parking can be expensive and also to take public transportation into the area, where the electric shuttle can chauffeur you to the theater's front door!

It's really just that simple.

The San Diego Civic Theater Plaza
The San Diego Civic Theater Plaza

Parking Information for the San Diego Civic Theatre

There is a parking garage across 3rd Avenue from the theater.

There are also additional parking garages and concourse parking a couple of blocks north of the location.

The standard fee for parking on performance nights starts at $10.

Outside the Horton Grand Hotel
Outside the Horton Grand Hotel

Parking Information for the Balboa Theatre

To park at the Balboa location, you can do so underground at the NBC Building parking garage at 225 Broadway. An alternative is to park at the Westfield Horton Plaza.

Both locations charge a general parking fee of $10.

Know Before You Go: Additional Tips to Ensure the Best Experience

Here are a few additional tips to make your trip the most comfortable possible.

Typical Street in Core Columbia, Downtown San Diego
Typical Street in Core Columbia, Downtown San Diego

Hours of Operation

The Administrative Office is open from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM Monday through Friday.

Opera Showtimes vary: Some start at 6:00 PM, others don't start until 10:00 PM. Check the times for the performance of your choice to make sure you arrive on time.

Lobby Bar and Hotel Lobby at the Carte Hotel San Diego Downtown
Lobby Bar and Hotel Lobby at the Carte Hotel San Diego Downtown

Where to Stay Near the Theaters

Of course, if you’re visiting San Diego, you’ll want to stay at the heart of it. The Carte Hotel San Diego Downtown, Curio Collection By Hilton is right in the city center.

From luxury facilities to waterfront views to being just steps away from Little Italy, the Carte Hotel offers everything you could want for your San Diego stay. Hello, quick and easy access to the zoo!

What’s better than floor-to-ceiling windows when you have city and waterfront views? A drink at the rooftop bar after a long day of sightseeing, obviously.

General Guidelines

You can enjoy a fantastic performance by adhering to these general guidelines:

  • Turn off all cellular devices.
  • There is no late seating, so it is crucial to arrive on time
  • Please do not talk during the performances - save conversations for intermission
  • Arrive to park at least 1.5 hours before the performance to allow adequate time

Entrance of the San Diego Natural History Museum
Entrance of the San Diego Natural History Museum

Book a Complimenting Tour

The San Diego Natural History Museum located in nearby Balboa Park has everything for the history, dinosaur, and fossil enthusiasts in your group. I think it’s a nice activity to check out during the day before a trip to see the opera.

Your Go City San Diego pass includes access to all four floors of the museum plus the 2D films playing in the museum’s dedicated theater.

The pass gives you discounted admission to the museum and more than 50 other attractions around San Diego. Use our code GVSD5OFF for an additional savings!

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