About Opera Santa Barbara

Opera Santa Barbara was founded in 1994 by Marilyn Gilbert and Nathan Rundlett with the goal of bringing the highest caliber of opera to Santa Barbara. During the past 19 years the organization has presented 48 operas and has provided thousands of hours of educational programs to the community. The quality of our productions has consistently improved, and we have established a solid base of opera lovers in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

Our Mission

Opera Santa Barbara contributes to the cultural enrichment of our audiences by presenting exciting, high-quality productions and community programs that celebrate the breadth and beauty of opera.

Opera Santa Barbara aspires to be a destination opera company, producing a diverse repertoire of traditional and contemporary operas that engage and excite a broad audience.


Opera Santa Barbara General Director Steven Sharpe 8/3/15 Santa Barbara Mission Rose Garden

Steven Sharpe

General Director
Steven Sharpe has served as the General Director for Opera Santa Barbara since April 2006.
Opera Santa Barbara General Director Steven Sharpe 8/3/15 Santa Barbara Mission Rose Garden

Steven Sharpe

General Director

Steven Sharpe has served as the General Director for Opera Santa Barbara since April 2006. Prior to that, he served in a part-time capacity with the organization as General Manager for two years and Development Consultant for two years. Sharpe began his nonprofit career as Director of Development and Executive Director for Pacific Pride Foundation / AIDS Project Central Coast from 1992-1995, where his accomplishments included founding the Heart & Sole AIDS Walk. From 1996-2000, Sharpe served as Executive Director for the Dream Foundation, helping to establish and build the nation?s first adult wish-granting organization. From 2000-2003 he served as General Manager for Camerata Pacifica. Sharpe has provided strategic planning and fundraising consulting for a variety of organizations, including Antioch University, Community Youth Performing Arts Center, Community Counseling Center, Community Environmental Center, Santa Barbara County Arts Commission, Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center and the Greater Santa Barbara Ice Skating Association. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Hospice of Santa Barbara, is a Spinning and Yoga instructor at the Santa Barbara Athletic Club, and holds a B.A. from the University of California, Irvine.

Opera Santa Barbara Artistic Director Kostis Protopapas 8/3/15 Santa Barbara Mission Rose Garden

Kostis Protopapas

Artistic Director
Kostis Protopapas was appointed Artistic Director of Opera Santa Barbara in July, 2015.
Opera Santa Barbara Artistic Director Kostis Protopapas 8/3/15 Santa Barbara Mission Rose Garden

Kostis Protopapas

Artistic Director

Kostis Protopapas was appointed Artistic Director of Opera Santa Barbara in July, 2015. He has been Artistic Director of Tulsa Opera since May of 2008. He previously served as the company's Associate Conductor and Chorusmaster. He has conducted twenty-two productions with the company since his 2005 mainstage debut with Cavalleria Rusticana/I Pagliacci . About his 2011 Barber of Seville performances, Alex Ross of The New Yorker wrote "Most impressive was the fluid idiomatic playing of the orchestra... In any city, it's rare to find a conductor that sets the right tempo so consistently."

Between 2002 and 2008, concurrently with his tenure at Tulsa Opera, Kostis also served Assistant Conductor for the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Los Angeles Opera and Santa Fe Opera. During the 2002 and 2003 seasons he was the Assistant Chorusmaster at Lyric Opera of Chicago under Donald Palumbo. Kostis started his career on the music staff of Virginia Opera and Opera Memphis; he conducted at Opera in the Ozarks every summer from 2000 to 2004; is a regular guest conductor at Union Avenue Opera in St. Louis from 2007 until 2010 and has been a guest conductor for the Des Moines Metro Opera, Opera Columbus, Shreveport Opera and the Westmoreland Symphony.

Kostis' leadership at Tulsa Opera has focused on furthering the company's long-standing reputation for artistic excellence; expanding the company's commitment to contemporary and American opera; developing the Tulsa Studio Artists Program into a training program of national recognition; strengthening the Tulsa Opera Orchestra and Tulsa Opera Chorus; expanding the company's role as a leading arts organization throughout the state of Oklahoma; developing substantial outreach and educational programming; and advocating for arts awareness and appreciation in Tulsa.

Born in Athens, Greece, Kostis Protopapas studied Archaeology and History of Art at the University of Athens before coming to the United States in 1993, on an Onassis Foundation scholarship, to study piano at The Boston Conservatory and conducting at Boston University. He became an American citizen in 2011 and lives in Tulsa and Chicago, with his wife, soprano and stage director Cathleen Dunn-Protopapas, and their four cats, Gus, Miles, Zsa-Zsa and Gigi.


Rory Collins

Production Manager
Rory Collins has worked in opera production since 2002 with many companies in the United States.

Rory Collins

Production Manager

Rory Collins has worked in opera production since 2002 with many companies in the United States. His first job was with Opera North as assistant stage manager, assistant director and director. He has worked as Stage Manager, Assistant Director, or Director at the following universities and opera companies: Opera North, Opera in the Heights, University of Texas, Florida State University, Florida Grand Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis and Houston Grand Opera. Rory spent four seasons with LA Opera, six seasons with Santa Fe Opera, and three seasons with San Francisco Opera. Rory attended UC Santa Cruz for his Bachelor of Arts in Music, Peabody Conservatory where he received a Graduate Performance Diploma in Voice, and Boston University for his Master's in Music degree in Voice. He has a beautiful wife, three adorable dogs (Diesel, Tiffany and Heinrich) and is expecting a new member of the family in December.


Francesca Patruno

Patron Services
As Patron Services Associate, Francesca Patruno works to provide the best possible service to the donors, subscribers and patrons of Opera Santa Barbara.

Francesca Patruno

Patron Services

As Patron Services Associate, Francesca Patruno works to provide the best possible service to the donors, subscribers and patrons of Opera Santa Barbara. Prior to working with OSB, Francesca worked for the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra in a similar capacity. Ms. Patruno is also a Wedding Officiant, helping couples make meaningful marriage ceremonies.

Board of Directors

Officers of the Board

Nancy Golden


Nancy Golden is the principal of Golden Direct, a direct mail consulting service provider to environmental, performing arts, human services organizations and museums. Previously, she held a variety of marketing positions at Time, Inc. for 21 years. Golden is a graduate of Russell Sage College with a degree in English Literature. She previously served as a board member from 1999-2002 and as Marketing Committee member since 1999. She currrently chairs the Marketing Committee and serves on the Executive and Development Committees.

Vice Chair

Jon DuPrau

Vice Chair

Jon DuPrau leads an investment management group at J.P.Morgan Securities that concentrates on clients seeking a sophisticated approach to investing. Jon began his career working for a private turnaround company where he became proficient in the principals of valuation and financial structure before studying Quantitative Analysis at Prudential Securities when technology companies were establishing their place in the capital markets. Within two years at Prudential, he was promoted to Portfolio Manager and began expanding his interests into distressed debt, alternative investments, risk management and ultimately portfolio optimization. Jon has had the benefit of working with several academic approaches in a variety of market environments and has distinguished his capabilities in the process. His qualifications include a Juris Doctorate degree from the Santa Barbara College of Law, a Licensed International Financial Analyst and several portfolio management designations. He speaks frequently on valuation, alternative investments and risk management and lectures on related subjects at California Polytechnic’s Masters of Business Administration program. His professional affiliations include the Association for Investment Management and Research, the International Research Association and the Turnaround Management Association. In the community, Jon has chaired several committees at the Santa Barbara Club, is involved in the Santa Barbara Film Festival, a trustee of the Art Foundation of Santa Barbara and in the Executive Club and on the United for Literacy Advisory Council for the United Way.


Richard Banks


Richard Banks, a retired CPA and longtime supporter of local nonprofit organizations, has been elected to the Board of Directors for Opera Santa Barbara. His three-year term began this month.

Mr. Banks earned a degree in business administration at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, before beginning his career as a tax accountant and auditor for Arthur Andersen & Co. He went on to serve as a controller and chief financial officer for a number of companies involved in manufacturing, agriculture, government contracting, and oil and gas development. Mr. Banks also worked in family wealth planning, specializing in high-net-worth individuals and family businesses. His professional affiliations include membership in the American Institute of CPAs, the California Society of CPAs, Tech Coast Angels, and the Family Firm Institute.

His extensive involvement with local nonprofit boards has included Crane Country Day School, Transition House, Ensemble Theatre Company, the Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital Foundation, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Santa Barbara Zoo, Planned Parenthood of Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Foundation, the Community Environmental Council, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, and the Lobero Theatre, among others.

"Richard has a background rich in cultural discernment and community engagement, and as such is an ideal fit for our organization," said Joan Rutkowski, immediate past chair of Opera Santa Barbara's Board of Directors and current chair of its Governance Committee. "We are immensely fortunate to have an individual of his caliber contribute to the company's leadership discussions."


Mary Penny


Mary has been involved with Opera Santa Barbara's Board of Directors since its beginning, having served as Vice President, Treasurer, and currently as Secretary.  She also sits on the Architectural, Development and Finance Committees, as well as chairing the Human Resources Committee. She retired from her position as CEO of the American Red Cross, Santa Barbara County Chapter following a career of more than 35 years. She has served on numerous local and national Boards, including the University Club, Woman's Club, American Women for International Understanding, SB Committee on Foreign Relations, American Red Cross Retiree Council, and Santa Barbara Associates. Mary graduated from California State University with a degree in Liberal Arts.

Members of the Board

Pat Andersons


Rodney Baker

Rodney Baker, a Santa Barbara native, worked at Cox Communications for 30 years from 1980 – 2010, ending as the Chief Engineer. Since his retirement in 2010, Mr. Baker has become the President and Director of Projects for the Santa Barbara Courthouse Docent Council. In this capacity, he has directed the restoration of the courthouse lamps, was project manager for the restoration of the Bisno-Schall Clock Gallery and assistant project manager for the restoration of the Spirit of the Ocean fountain. Mr. Baker has also supported numerous other local non-profit organizations including the United Way, Pearl Chase Society, Unity Shoppe and the Dream Foundation. He has also performed as a supernumerary in several Opera SB productions and has performed in several productions at the Circle Bar B.


Cynthia Brittain

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.


Beno Budgor

Dr. Aaron (Beno) Budgor was Founder and CEO of Aaron Budgor and Associates, a consulting firm providing technology intelligence and solutions to builders, providers, and users of networking systems. Prior to that he was CEO of the World-Wide Consortium for the Grid Institute; VP for Technology Strategies and Applications and Deputy Chief Technology Officer at BAE Systems Information Systems Sector; VP and Chief Technology Officer at Science Applications International Corp. and Executive Director for Commercial Investments/Licensing and Government Programs at Telcordia Technologies. He received a BS in Chemistry, Magna cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa from UCLA; and a Ph.D. in Chemical Physics from the University of Rochester. He has held profes­sorships at UC Davis, University of Mexico and Naval Postgraduate School. He is the author of over 200 scientific and managerial papers, three books on electro-optics and lasers and one patent awarded in chaotic communications. He is a member of the Cosmos Club, is currently President of the Homeowners Association, Montecito Valley Ranch and on the Land Use Committee for the Montecito Association. Dr. Budgor is married, has two children, and resides in Santa Barbara, California.


Roger Davidson

Roger H. Davidson is Professor Emeritus of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland, College Park, and Visiting Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara. From 1980 to 1988 he held the post of Senior Specialist in American National Government and Public Administration with the Congressional Research Service, U.S. Library of Congress. He is a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration.

Born in Washington, DC, and raised in Fort Collins, CO, Dr. Davidson attended the University of Colorado and received his Ph.D from Columbia University. He began his teaching career at Dartmouth College, moving to the University of California, Santa Barbara (1968-1980), where he served as chairman of the political science department and associate dean of Letters and Science. He has been a visiting professor at Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, American, and George Washington universities, and has lectured or conducted seminars on U.S. politics and policy making throughout this country and in Europe, South America, Africa, India, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and other South Pacific countries. In 2002 he was John Marshall Professor at the University of Debrecen, Hungary, awarded by the Hungarian Fulbright Commission. He was named Visiting Distinguished Political Scientist at Santa Barbara City College in 2005-2006. Dr. Davidson is listed in Who’s Who in America.

Dr. Davidson’s musical interests began early. In his youth he took piano lessons and sang in high school and university choirs. His passion for opera (and Broadway musicals) blossomed during his years in New York City as a graduate student at Columbia University—hearing legendary singers at the old (and new) Metropolitan Opera House. In Washington, DC, he subscribed to the Washington National Opera; he has attended many opera performances in the US and abroad.

Dr. Davidson is co-chair of the UCSB Affiliates, board member of the Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara, and a docent for both the Architectural Foundation and the Santa Barbara Historical Society. He and his wife Nancy subscribe to and support OSB, Santa Barbara Symphony, Camerata Pacifica, UCSB’s Arts and Lectures series, and CAMA. They are members of the Council of Contributors of the Music Academy of the West and especially follow their vocal music program. Dr. Davidson serves on MAW’s Advancement Committee.


Mary Tonetti Dorra

Born in Macon, Georgia, Ms. Dorra grew up in Texas and earned a degree in philosophy at Vassar College. Following teaching stints in Costa Rica and Uruguay she spent three years in Italy, first studying at the University of Florence and then working as a research reporter in Time Life's Rome bureau, writing about art, fashion, and film. She went on to serve as an assistant accessories editor at Harper's Bazaar and as assistant director of fashion publicity and promotion at Revlon, both in New York, and as director of special events at the May Company in Los Angeles before working as a freelance writer for Mattel. After earning a master's degree in, and teaching Italian at UCLA, she taught at UCSB.

Ms. Dorra has lectured extensively on gardens and travel, and her articles have appeared in such publications as Gourmet Magazine, The New York Times, Elle Decor, the Los Angeles Times, and Travel + Leisure. She has authored three books, Beautiful American Gardens and Beautiful American Rose Gardens, published by Clarkson Potter, and the historical novel Demeter's Choice: A Portrait of My Grandmother as a Young Artist.

A former Board member for the UCSB Art Affiliates, Ms. Dorra currently serves as Board secretary for the Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts. Her local nonprofit efforts also have included the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Garden Club of Santa Barbara, Planned Parenthood, the Music Academy of the West, the Santa Barbara Symphony, and Ensemble Theatre Company.

Herb Kendall

Herbert J. Kendall is a retired builder and community developer from Princeton, N.J. For over forty years he concentrated on environmentally sound projects. His most notable is Twin Rivers in New Jersey. This PUD consisting of 3,000 families included 200 acres of office, industrial and recreational use.

Mr. Kendall’s community affiliations included Development Chair and Board Vice Chair of the Princeton Day Schools, which he built in 1965. His affiliations in California began with the development of South Coast Repertory Theatre, which is the leading regional theatre in Southern California. He continued by establishing and serving as President of the Santa Monica Arts Commission from 1983 – 1993.

In Santa Barbara, Mr. Kendall was a member of the SB Museum of Art and was partly responsible for the design and construction of its addition. He has been a member of the CAMA board for several years and served as its president from 2000 – 2003. He has also been a member of the boards of Casa Dorinda Board and the State Street Ballet. In 2003, Mr. Kendall and his wife Elaine created the Victoria Hall Theatre where they produced several plays, some of which were written by Elaine.

Mr. Kendall’s latest interests include the Bren School at UCSB and the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. He has recently relocated to Birnum Wood where he has begun a new challenge: playing golf, where he is the oldest pupil.


A.C. Moore

A.C. Moore is Chief Investment Strategist for Dunvegan Associates, Inc and has over 30 years of Wall Street experience as a securities analyst, research director and portfolio manager. He was a consultant to the Council of Economic Advisors during two presidential administrations and is among the top most-quoted market strategists in the country and a frequent guest on CNBC, CNN and other media outlets. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Finance from Wake Forest University and a JD from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill School of Law. He has served on the boards of the Santa Barbara Symphony, the Symphony Endowment Trust and the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (CADA).

Eric Oltmann

Eric Oltmann is a retired Navy pilot and engineer. In addition to the Opera Board, he serves as President of the Ventura Music Festival. He serves on the Development and Marketing Committees. In addition to his musical interests, he is an avid collector and has been involved in wildlife conservation.


Jean Rogers

Jean Rogers has been a full-time resident of Santa Barbara since 2009 when she moved from Dallas, Texas where she raised five children. Her late husband J. Ben Rogers, Jr. was an entrepreneur in real estate, vintage automobiles, and a chain of barbecue restaurants. Ms. Rogers earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Southern Methodist University in 1985. She has professional experience in sales in the fashion industry as well as residential real estate. She is active in the Santa Barbara Women’s Club, Little Town Club, Birnam Wood Golf Club and Santa Barbara Museum of Art. She also serves as a council member at the Music Academy of the West. In addition to opera, Jean enjoys bridge and tennis.


Joan Rutkowski

Joan Rutkowski joined the Board in 2008 after having served as Artistic Administrator for Opera Santa Barbara (2000-2008). She was a founding member of the Board of Directors of The Granada Theatre, and served on the boards of the Santa Barbara Symphony, Music Academy of the West and the Ojai Festival. For 18 years she was Executive Director of Esperia Foundation. She had a distinguished career as an opera singer and vocal teacher/coach and has given masterclasses in the US, China and Taiwan. She holds a M.M. in Opera Performance from USC and as a grand finalist in the San Francisco Opera auditions, was a member of the Merola Program of the San Francisco Opera.


Judith F. Smith


Sandra L. Urquhart

Sandra Urquhart has been very active on the OSB Board for several years--serving as both Secretary and as a recent past Board President. She graduated from Good Samaritan Hospital School of Nursing in Ohio and most recently worked as an RN teaching and specializing in cardiology and cardiac angiography at Cottage Hospital.

She currently chairs the Governance Committee and sits on the Artistic Planning and Development commmittee.


Joann Younger

Joann Younger, a successful entrepreneur whose ventures have included popular women's clothing stores in Santa Barbara and Sacramento, has been elected to the Board of Directors for Opera Santa Barbara. Her three-year term began in January.

A native of Dallas, Ms. Younger founded a development firm in Sacramento in the 1960s before turning her attention to women's fashion, opening the juniors store Sacks Howe Avenue in 1975 and later the boutique Chantilly Lace, both in Sacramento. She currently owns Renaissance Fine Consignment, which has locations in Santa Barbara and Sacramento.

"Joann is a self-made businesswoman whose keen instincts and moxie are certain to prove invaluable as we embark on an exciting new era at Opera Santa Barbara," said Joan Rutkowski, immediate past chair of the company's Board of Directors and current chair of its Governance Committee. "Given her impressive record of accomplishment and her infectious enthusiasm, we expect her contributions to our organization to be both substantial and of lasting significance."

Photo by David Bazemore