At the core of Opera Neo’s philosophy is the belief that opera is theater – theater that harnesses the raw power of the human voice and the magic of musical expression to tell powerful, bold, and thrilling stories.
Our artistic team is passionate about combining historically informed musical performance with stagings that are exciting, entertaining, moving, and relevant to the theatergoers of today.
We are committed to challenging the stereotypes of operatic production, making opera broadly accessible, with a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere designed to open the doors to non-traditional operagoers.
Opera Neo holds highly selective national auditions each year for our young artist positions performing in our productions and receiving one-on-one coaching, mentorship, and professional training.
In our audition process, we’re not just looking for the “best technique” or most impressive résumé – we’re looking for young artists who have something special to say; something unique to offer; who are passionate about telling stories on stage.
We’re proud of our success in identifying and fostering these exciting young talents, giving them a place to learn, grow, and share their gifts with the San Diego community.
Our current and former young artists are singing all over the world, from the Metropolitan Opera to the Salzburg Festival. Two time Opera Neo artist Natalie Lewis is a 2023 Metropolitan Opera Competition Grand Prize Winner!
During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Opera Neo created a fully virtual production of Mozart's The Magic Flute, that was widely heralded for its ingenuity, accessibility, and visual and musical quality.
Opera Neo Founder and Artistic Director Peter Kozma’s philosophy “has been applied rigorously to his company” (San Diego Union-Tribune). “Opera is theater,” Kozma believes. “We need people who can capture the audience. But we have systematically removed the opportunities for young performers to develop individuality — to display a persona."
Along with a few like-minded collaborators, Kozma set out in 2012 to build a company where artistic individuality is identified, nurtured, and showcased in innovative productions that speak directly to today’s audiences. Since its founding, Opera Neo has grown from a small workshop presenting a scenes program into an acclaimed opera company and professional training program, presenting fully staged operas each summer, drawing over 600 young artist applicants, and receiving local and national media recognition as an innovator in the field.
Kozma’s work has been hailed as “free-spirited and inventive, showing an excellent grasp of the drama and the space." He has studied voice, conducting, and directing at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, The University of Texas at Austin, and the Mayer-Lismann Opera Centre, and has performed and trained professionally in flute and baroque recorder. His background has allowed him to bring a diverse range of experience, as well as a broadly-informed musical perspective into his innovative and energetic productions.