Photo by David Bazemore
Welcome to the OSB Press Room

Opera Santa Barbara will hold Youth Opera auditions for its 2016-17 season from 12 to 5 pm on August 20 . We are looking for singers ages 7 to 18 of exceptional talent, enthusiasm, and musical ability to be a part of our dynamic company. Productions include Bizet’s Carmen in November, Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen in March, and an original children’s opera production of Hans Krasa’s Brunidbár in May. This is a unique and rewarding opportunity to be part of a professional opera company with other young artists who love to sing, act, and celebrate, in a safe, supportive, and artistically challenging environment.

YO auditionsEvery child should come ready to move, dressed in comfortable clothes that are easy to move and work in. Each child should bring 16 measures of a song they love to sing, in any language, in the key they sing it in. Please bring a copy of the music for the pianist.

The day’s schedule:
Noon-1:30 — Warmups, ensemble singing
1:30-1:45 — Break
1:45-5 – Individual auditions (5 mins each)

Auditions will take place in the Fellowship Room at First Congregational Church of Santa Barbara. There is a parking lot off State Street. The Fellowship Room entrance is accessible via the parking lot.

FCC of Santa Barbara
2101 State St
Santa Barbara, CA 93105

Please arrive early to sign up for an audition time.

If you have questions, contact Youth Opera Director Rebecca Comerford at rebeccacomerford@yahoo.com.


Opera Santa Barbara will open its 23rd season with Georges Bizet’s timeless drama Carmen on November 4 and 6, followed by compelling productions of Leoš Janáček’s imaginative The Cunning Little Vixen on March 3 and 5, and Giacomo Puccini’s richly melodic La Rondine on April 28 and 30. Performances will take place at the historic Granada Theatre in Santa Barbara. Subscription sales are underway.

Artistic Director Kostis Protopapas will make his company conducting debut for Opera Santa Barbara’s production of Carmen. One of the world’s most popular operas, Bizet’s wonderfully vibrant and riveting tale of love and jealousy overflows with delightful music. Mexican director Octavio Cardenas will stage this production, which will feature Leann Sandel-Pantaleo in the title role, Harold Meers as Don Jose, and Jeanine De Bique as Micaela.

Crystal Manich will direct a new production of The Cunning Little Vixen, Janáček’s humorous and tender allegory about the connections between people and animals, and the cyclical nature of life and death. The production, to be designed by Jean-Pierre Couture, will appeal to both children and adults, and will be performed in English with English subtitles. Soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian will perform the role of the vixen, David Kravitz will portray the Forester, and Lauren McNeese will make her company debut as the fox.

And the season will conclude with Opera Santa Barbara’s premiere production of La Rondine, Puccini’s elegant and poignant operetta about a worldly woman who falls in love with a naïve younger man, who in turn causes her to question the cost of her glittering existence. Tara Faircloth will direct and Kostis Protopapas will conduct. Karin Wolverton will make her company debut as Magda, Adam Diegel will play the role of Ruggiero, and Zeffin Quinn Hollis will perform as Rambaldo.


By Charles Donelan

Santa Barbara Independent

What a splendid night this was for Opera Santa Barbara. The double feature of Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi succeeded in conveying two crucial features of the operatic form—the lightheartedness of make-believe and the soul-searing intensity of a grand passion.

Opera Santa Barbara - Gianni Schicchi 4/20/16 Granada TheatreIn Schicchi, Puccini thematizes the double spectacle of opera as public event by playing off the real privilege traditionally displayed by opera audiences against the pretend aristocracy of the figures on stage. As the poet James Merrill wrote of his first experience of a matinee performance at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, “with pulsing wealth the house is filled,/ No one believing, everybody thrilled.” In this production, thanks to superb direction by Fenlon Lamb and excellent scenic, lighting, and hair and makeup design, the peculiar thrills of make-believe were out in full force.

The ensemble rose to the challenge of this fast-paced farce by displaying a seemingly effortless but no doubt hard-earned cohesion throughout the work’s multiple shifts in mood. The search for Donati’s will was particularly entertaining, with every character but one engaged in turning the set upside down and inside out in an avaricious frenzy. Stefano de Peppo was a marvelous Gianni Schicchi, and Monica Yunus and Jason Slayden brought out the secondary theme of young love effectively as Lauretta and Rinuccio. With Brooks Firestone in the role of Buoso Donati, this was sophisticated fun for the funders of Santa Barbara’s trust funds.

Suor Angelica was a quite different, though complementary, story. Opera’s deepest well of feeling resides in the heart (and throat) of the diva and those who adore her, and Angelica delivers that feeling unalloyed. It’s Puccini’s ultimate statement on the complex relationship between the sacrificial soprano and the Madonna, and as such it is essential listening for any serious opera fan. Maria Kanyova gave a fabulous, multilayered performance as Angelica that was lit from within by incandescent vocal prowess and emotional commitment to the role. In the final sequence Kanyova broke through the conventions of polite discourse and took the audience with her on a wild ride to the outer reaches of tragic emotion. Alissa Anderson, as the Principessa, achieved an equal dignity even in an unsympathetic role, lending significant gravitas to the proceedings. The meeting of these two unstoppable forces—social censure and spiritual yearning—issued in transcendent music.


Opera Santa Barbara will welcome four promising young vocalists for 17 weeks of performances, training, and community events under an expansion of its artist residency program early next year. The company’s new Mosher Studio Artist Program will enable four singers and an accompanist to take part in Opera Santa Barbara productions, outreach activities throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, and coachings and masterclasses with top industry directors and conductors. The inaugural complement of program participants will arrive in Santa Barbara on January 18. Their residencies will conclude on May 16.

“We are very grateful to the Mosher Foundation, whose generosity has made this expansion possible,” said Kostis Protopapas, who was named artistic director of Opera Santa Barbara in July. “We envision program participants serving as ambassadors for our company and opera generally, all the while receiving top-flight training that will further their careers.”

Under its original artist residency program, founded seven years ago, Opera Santa Barbara would host four singers for about five weeks of training and rehearsals prior to each of the company’s three annual opera productions, culminating in on-stage appearances as secondary performers. The effort was originally known as the Young Artists Program and was later renamed the Studio Artist Program. The Mosher Foundation, which supports educational, healthcare, and performing arts institutions in the Santa Barbara area, funded an expansion of the program last year.

Under the new Mosher Studio Artist Program, participants will tour elementary schools in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties as part of the company’s Opera Lab, which uses improvisational theatre techniques to encourage children to “create their own operas”; perform six free noontime concerts at the Santa Barbara Public Library; present previews of Opera Santa Barbara productions to community groups such as retirement homes and Rotary clubs; and take part in a new series of “pop up” or “flash mob” performances from Thousand Oaks to Santa Maria. The latter will be presented at shopping malls, public libraries, farmers markets, school lunchrooms, and similar locations. To schedule a “pop up” performance, contact Opera Santa Barbara at 805-898-3890 or info@operasb.org.

Mosher Studio Artists also will perform secondary roles in Opera Santa Barbara’s upcoming productions of Gaetano Donizetti’s romantic comedy L’Elisir d’Amore (The Elixir of Love) on March 4 and 6, and Puccini’s great one-act operas Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi on April 22 and 24. Featuring popular and lesser-known operatic repertoire with piano accompaniment, the free noontime concerts will be offered at the Santa Barbara Public Library’s Faulkner Gallery on February 17 and 24 and March 2 (in advance of L’elisir d’amore), and April 6, 13, and 20 (Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi). Additional concerts will likely be scheduled at other regional public libraries.

Through a related partnership, qualified UCSB voice students will be eligible to participate in the Mosher Studio Artist Program. Mezzo-soprano Molly Clementz, a doctoral candidate at UCSB, will be among the new program’s inaugural participants.

“This partnership will harness UCSB’s academic prestige and teaching excellence, along with Opera Santa Barbara’s professional opportunities and resources, in order to provide top-quality training for the area’s most promising young singers,” said Mr. Protopapas.

The full roster of incoming Mosher Studio Artists will be announced in January.

Opera Santa Barbara is seeking local homeowners to serve as housing donors for Mosher Studio Artists. Housing donors will receive a stipend of $2,000 for the full 17-week period, plus complimentary tickets to opera performances and private receptions. Each artist requires a private bedroom and bathroom and wireless internet access. For more information, contact Opera Santa Barbara at 805-898-3890.


Cindy Brittain_webCynthia D. Brittain , an estate planning and tax law specialist with the Northern Trust Corp., has been elected to the Board of Directors for Opera Santa Barbara. Her three-year term began in September.

Born in North Carolina, Ms. Brittain earned undergraduate degrees in economics and foreign policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and went on to receive a Juris Doctor from California Western School of Law and a Master of Laws degree in taxation from the University of San Diego. At California Western she was a member of both the Law Review and the International Law Journal. Ms. Brittain also has studied in Moscow and Paris.

After beginning her legal career as a prosecutor in San Diego, Ms. Brittain was a partner in Santa Barbara-based Ambrecht & Brittain for nearly 10 years before practicing with the international law firm Withers in London and Hong Kong, where she was primarily involved in international cross-border planning for large global families. Prior to joining Northern Trust in 2012, Ms. Brittain served as counsel at McKenna, Long & Aldridge in Los Angeles, where she focused on domestic and international estate and tax planning. At Northern Trust, she collaborates with clients and their counsel on estate planning strategies, including fiduciary and tax issues stemming from trust administration. She speaks nationally on cross-border planning.

Ms. Brittain is a member of the Estate and Trust Committee and the Tax Committee of the California State Bar Association, as well as the Los Angeles chapter of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners. She served as president of the Ventura Estate Planning Council in 2007, and is currently a co-chair of the Tax Committee for the Santa Barbara County Bar Association.

An accomplished musician in her own right, Ms. Brittain studied piano for 14 years and has contributed concert reviews to The Washington Post and the Star Tribune in Minneapolis. In addition to Santa Barbara, she has attended opera performances in Vienna, London, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.

“We are very pleased to welcome Cindy Brittain to our organization,” said Joan Rutkowski, immediate past chair of Opera Santa Barbara’s Board of Directors and current chair of its Governance Committee. “With her unique background in trust administration and fiduciary and tax issues, combined with a lifetime love of opera, we are confident she will have an immediate impact on Opera Santa Barbara’s important work in our community.”