There’s a new general director in town, and we could not be more thrilled to welcome her to the HGO family. We’ll get to know her much better in the months ahead, but here’s a few things to know about her right this minute:
Name: Khori Dastoor
Hometown: Pasadena, California
The start of an operatic love affair: “I joined the LA Children’s Chorus when I was 7 or 8. My experience with opera started that way—with Plácido backstage, and singing in Carmen, and getting home really late, and then going to school the next morning. Ultimately, I couldn’t find anything else that was as thrilling as opera.” She still hasn’t!
Education: Bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from the New England Conservatory of Music; master’s degree in Opera Studies from UCLA; a portion of a doctorate from UCLA, before her career as a soprano took off and she joined Opera San José’s resident ensemble of principal artists
Experience: “I was a working soprano for 12 years,” Dastoor shares. “I did that out-of-a-suitcase thing, performed in the smoke and in the snow, getting jobs in a lot of different styles, in a lot of different languages, and in a lot of different countries.” She went on to join the Packard Humanities Institute in Silicon Valley, where she was named associate director, responsible for initiatives encompassing arts, music, and archaeology. Her work with the foundation allowed her to gain experience in supporting the grant administration process and to think about funding—how it works, and, she explains, “what organizational health looks like in a creative context.” In 2013 Dastoor joined Opera San José as Artistic Advisor, and in 2019 she became General Director, earning a reputation for hands-on, entrepreneurial artistic and administrative leadership.
Superpowers: Knowing how to pick the right people, whether a spouse, a Violetta, or a director of development. Listening to others—artists, administrators, patrons, other stakeholders—to determine the path forward.
Favorite opera to perform: Massenet’s Manon
Favorite opera to watch: Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi
Why she loves opera: “When I’m at the opera, I have the privacy and space to experience very big emotions in connection with other people but from the safety of my own seat. I don’t really have other outlets for that in modern life—as a parent, as a wife, as a working person—where that intensity of emotion is something I can experience.”
Family: Husband (“he’s a civilian, which is important”); two daughters
Her picks to join her on a (fictional) panel on art and America: Amanda Gorman, Dolly Parton, Philip Glass
On her new job with HGO: “I’m still pinching myself. There’s no other institution in the world where I feel that I could have the impact I want to have, pursuing my ambition around creating the new American stories for the stage, for patrons who are going to be consuming it 50 years from now.”
Non-operatic goal as a new Houstonian: “To find the best barbecue in town!”
Learn more about Khori Dastoor.