Opera is being revived in the Yuba-Sutter community. 

Justin France, owner and head chef of Justin’s Kitchen in downtown Yuba City, is bringing back opera with Italian Opera Night Jan. 25 from 5-9 p.m. 

Opera was once common in the community, according to David Read, Yuba Sutter Arts executive director. Joaquina Calvo Johnson, a vocal arts teachers at Yuba College, was on forefront of the opera scene – she created “Borgamaria Lyric Opera Company,” which would stage full operas locally.

“(Johnson) had this following,” said Read. “She trained a lot of local singers.”

Among the local singers was France.

“It’s been a long time since Joaquina’s presence has been felt,” France said.

 Through her coaching, he started out as an aspiring opera singer, according to a press release from Read. France transferred from Yuba College to San Jose State to further his studies.

But he eventually found his passion to be for the culinary arts. 

In addition to Johnson’s classes and that local opera company, there used to be a restaurant in downtown Yuba City – Salute Italian Ristorante – that regularly hosted opera performances. (Salute Italian Ristorante was a former tenant of the building now housing Justin’s Kitchen.)

France said he tries to support opera as much as possible, and believes attendees at this event are going to have fun.

Read said if opera can be revived and if the community supports it, there will be regular opera events. 

“For those willing to give it a shot, we have so much theater and art, so why not have opera,” Read said. 

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