Opera Santa Barbara’s newly formed Santa Barbara Youth Opera presents a fully staged production of Brundibár. Written for children with just one adult part, and no more than 40 minutes long, it was composed in 1938 by Hans Krása, with lyrics by Adolf Hoffmeister, as an entry for a children’s opera competition. It received its premiere in German-occupied Prague and was performed by children at a Jewish Orphanage. The children and the composer were eventually transported to the Terezín concentration camp. In July 1943, the score of Brundibár was smuggled into camp, where it was re-orchestrated by Krása for the various instrumentalists who were available to play at that time. The premiere of the Terezín version took place on 23 September 1943 in the hall of the Magdeburg barracks. The opera eventually had over 50 performances at Terezín. Nearly all of the children who performed in the opera were deported to Auschwitz and perished in the gas chambers. Hans Krása met the same fate. The history of Brundibar is brutal, but the opera itself is a parable of hope and justice.
This special production is a collaboration with the Ojai Youth Opera and the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony.
Sung in English
Production Sponsors: Eve Bernstein, the George H. Griffiths and Olive J. Griffiths Foundation, Eva & Yoel Haller, the Poomer Fund for Anne Smith Towbes, Jim & Stephanie Sokolove, Eleanor VanCott, the Williams-Corbett Foundation and the Zegar Family Fund.
Kostis Protopapas was named General Director of Opera Santa Barbara in December 2017, after two-and-a-half seasons as Artistic Director.
During his time as Artistic Director and principal conductor, Kostis brought a unified vision to OSB’s musical and production values, strengthening the orchestra and chorus, engaging some of the country’s most promising young directors and singers, building a high-performing production team, and increasing focus on contemporary American opera. The result was productions of both familiar and new repertoire that are counted among the finest in the company’s history.
As General Director, Kostis grew the company’s staff from three to seven, assembling an enthusiastic group of overachievers sharing an appetite for innovation and the desire to strengthen the company’s bond with the community.
During 2018-19, the company’s 25th anniversary season, Kostis oversaw the sold-out Santa Barbara premiere of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin and a production of The Crucible that the Santa Barbara Independent hailed as “one of the season’s most exciting performances of any kind in Santa Barbara”; a 25th anniversary gala concert; and the company’s first-ever student matinee performance as well as its first ever Youth camp.
Under Kostis’ leadership Opera Santa Barbara saw the creation of the Santa Barbara Youth Opera, a program providing educational and performance opportunities for school-age children; the expansion of the company’s Chrisman Studio program to a season-long residency for emerging artists; an impressive growth in the company’s community engagement and educational activities throughout the Central Coast; and the runaway success of Operacurious, a new program that brings Young Professionals in Santa Barbara in contact with opera and its artists.
2016 saw the end of Kostis' 15-year association with Tulsa Opera, during which he conducted 30 productions of a diverse repertoire extending from popular classics to contemporary American works. 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 that you stop noticing he's there.”
Kostis has been an Assistant Conductor for the Lyric Opera of Chicago, LA Opera and Santa Fe Opera. At the Lyric Opera of Chicago, he also served as Assistant Chorus Master under Donald Palumbo for two seasons..
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. He loves living in Santa Barbara, and enjoys downtown restaurants, the Funk Zone’s tasting rooms, and sailing on the Santa Barbara Channel.
Aninka and Pepícek, two little children, have a sick mother. The doctor has prescribed milk for her health, and they go to seek it in the town marketplace, but they have no money to purchase it. Three traders hawk their wares: an ice-cream man, a baker and a milkman. The children engage the milkman in song, but he tells them that they need money for milk. Suddenly the children spot the organ-grinder, Brundibár, playing on the street corner. Seeing his success, they decide to busk as well (and proceed to sing a song about geese), much to the annoyance of the townsfolk and Brundibár, who chase them away. Three animals – a sparrow, cat and dog – come to their aid, and together they recruit the other children of the neighbourhood in their plan. Night falls, the dawn comes, the children and animals begin morning exercises and the townsfolk get ready for the day. The plan goes ahead: the animals and children drown out Brundibár; they then join in a beautiful lullaby. The townsfolk are very moved and give Aninka and Pepí?ek money. Suddenly, Brundibár sneaks in and steals their takings. All the children and the animals give chase and recover the money. The opera concludes with a victory march sung about defeating the evil organ-grinder.