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Why We’re Here

Our Mission

Cinnabar’s mission is to present a wide range of theatrical, musical, and operatic works that are relevant to contemporary life and challenging to audiences and artists alike.

Cinnabar creates an environment that fosters the experimenta­tion and exploration needed to produce high-quality performances, which can be enjoyed for their technique and artistry as well as their connection to life and living.

Cinnabar is committed to training young people in the performing arts so they can make lasting and meaningful con­nections between the arts and their daily lives.

Our History

Marvin Klebe came to Petaluma to pursue his passion as an artisan while also raising his children in a safe and friendly community. A successful baritone who sang with the San Francisco Opera and was featured at the Spoleto Festival in Italy, Marvin had become disenchanted with the grand opera scene: he felt there was too little rehearsal and innovation, and no regard for the needs of a family.

So, in the summer of 1970, he and his wife Jan bought a two-room schoolhouse on the outskirts of town. The international opera singer turned his hand to carpentry and, with the help of his four sons, transformed the old building into a jewel-box theater.

Marvin’s goal was to create a performance space where creative people could collaborate and experiment. He and Jan launched Cinnabar Opera Theater and also invited artists from other disciplines to perform at the schoolhouse on the hill. He was quickly joined by Richard Blake’s Quicksilver Theater Company and dancer Ann Woodhead’s Mercury Moving Company. Each group inspired and taught the others.

In 1974, Cinnabar Arts Corporation received its nonprofit status. Cinnabar has been creating and presenting exquisite shows for its community ever since.

The theater itself was expanded in 1983 to accommodate a growing audience, and its mission expanded that year as well: drastic cuts in state funding for arts education in our schools prompted the creation of Cinnabar’s Young Repertory Theater. The Young Rep exists to train youth in the performing arts so they can make lasting and meaningful connections between the arts and their daily lives. This emphasis on teaching led to another addition, a studio and classroom space that is used by children and adults.

On May 22, 1999, Marvin lost a yearlong battle with cancer. Yet his legacy lives on. Cinnabar continues to thrive as a lively place where creative people can collaborate and experiment. Every year, it offers a thrilling mix of plays, musicals, operas, concerts, and youth activities. It also offers community choirs, which welcome anyone who wants to sing in harmony. We honor Marvin’s memory by presenting passionate performances in an intimate setting, to remind us – audience and artist alike – what it means and what it takes to be a human being.

Our founder: Marvin Klebe
Banner photo Banner photo Jeff Coté and Sami Granberg in 'The Pavilion' (photo by Eric Chazankin)