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Dana Sadava headshot



MM, San Francisco Conservatory of Music

BM, Oberlin Conservatory of Music

Courses Taught

Opera Workshop

Fall and Spring Opera

Chamber Opera

AD Opera Showcase


What is your hometown?

Pasadena, CA

What is your favorite recording? Why?

Glenn Gould's 1955 recording of the Goldberg Variations by J.S. Bach. I grew up listening to this recording with my dad...first on cassette tape, then on CD, and now on Spotify!

What are you passionate about outside of music?

I love playing soccer, hiking, and watching the Great British Baking Show

What question do you wish students would ask sooner rather than later?

What do I want my everyday life to look like?

What was a turning point in your career?

When I was a conducting student at SFCM, my schedule prevented me from taking the course I wanted, so I signed up for Opera Workshop with Kathy Cathcart. Soon I was surrounded by singing - and hooked.

If you weren't a musician or teacher, what do you think you would be doing now?

I think it would be really fun (and difficult) to be a writer in comedy TV or movies. I took classes in improvisation at The Second City in Chicago and absolutely loved them.

What is your daily practice routine?

I have to practice and study early in the morning, preferably with a cup of coffee nearby!

If you could play only three composers for the rest of your life, who would they be?

Bach, Brahms, Mozart

From a music history perspective, what year and city are most important to you, and why?

1786, Vienna: the premiere of Marriage of Figaro!

What do you think makes a concert experience unique?

I love intimate venues. The performers can feel the audience's engagement and wonder, and the audience can see and hear up close.

What ensembles do you/have you perform(ed) with?

San Diego Symphony, West Edge Opera, Mill Valley Philharmonic


Known for her elegant technique and broad expressive range, Dana Sadava enjoys a varied career as a conductor of opera and symphonic music. In addition to her work as Associate Conductor of Opera at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, she is also the Artistic Director of both Pasadena Opera and the Mill Valley Philharmonic. Recent engagements include conducting the San Diego Symphony, West Edge Opera, Opera San Jose, Symphony of the Redwoods, Opera Steamboat, University of California San Diego, Wexford Opera (Ireland), Banff Opera as Theatre, Indianapolis Opera, Pensacola Opera, Island City Opera, Cinnabar Theater, and Festival Opera. She studied conducting with Michael Morgan and Alasdair Neale at SFCM and with Kenneth Kiesler at the University of Michigan. She studied piano with Sanford Margolis at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and with Herbert Stessin and Gabriel Chodos at Aspen. Before delving into musical life, Ms. Sadava earned an undergraduate degree in aeronautics and literature from Caltech.