- ‘Madame Butterfly’ made a grand appearance over the weekend courtesy of Opera Santa Barbara. At its compelling center was the altogether impressive soprano Mihoko Kinoshita. The production was sharply directed by Keturah Stickann, and had an especially subtle lighting scheme by Lucas Benjaminh Krech. Once again, Opera Santa Barbara – in the still-fledgling era of Jose Maria Condemi as artistic director – has delivered, offering up a gleaming impression of why this opera is classic.
– Josef Woodard / Santa Barbara News-Press
- ‘Madame Butterfly’ received a fine production from Opera Santa Barbara that created a potent brew of extreme pathos. The arias were sung with startling clarity and grace by this outstanding cast; Kinoshita and Sayapin were transcendent. Conductor Sara Jobin brilliantly balanced Puccini’s vocal pyrotechnics with his instrumental interludes. In the final scene, Butterfly’s self-sacrifice was greeted first with gasps, and then with cheers of ‘brava.’
– Charles Donelan / Santa Barbara Independent
- Opera Santa Barbara’s season-opening ‘Madame Butterfly’ brought a burst of passion and color on Sunday. Central to the impact of the production was Mihoko Kinoshita in the leading role of Cio-Cio-San; her singing is dramatic but never loses its lyrical quality as her character gradually comes to realize that her dreams have turned to dust.
– Rita Moran / Ventura County Star
- Opera Santa Barbara’s 2012-2013 season arrived with a graceful note with Madame Butterfly. The alluring performance revolved around a single set, atmospherically lit by Lucas Benjamin Krech. Director Keturah Stickann engaging staging was inventive throughout the evening. Kinoshita’s “Un bel dì” was sung with caressing depth; the chorus was simply superb as led by chorus master Brent Wilson. Performed to sold-out audiences, the season is off to an inspired start.
– Robert F. Adams / CASA Magazine
- In the pit, Sara Jobin’s conducting was clarity itself, charting a seductive and restrained musical course that revealed a score of telling humanity. All the principals were energized and engaging. His young voice in superb form, Sayapin finessed Pinkerton’s music with earnest expressivity. In the title role, Kinoshita shaped her character’s evolution carefully; as Butterfly gained self-awareness, Ms. Kinoshita’s dulcet voice expanded in beauty and power. Special kudos to chorus master Brent Wilson for his attention to detail, which was rewarded handsomely. The OSB orchestra turned in a beautifully suave performance of the score as well. Bravi tutti!
– Daniel Kepl / CASA Magazine
- Perhaps the most opportune time to see the biggest and brightest that Santa Barbara has to offer is at the opening night of an Opera Santa Barbara production. “Butterfly” rang with a cosmopolitan beauty that is Opera Santa Barbara’s forte. The aching melodies, glittering oriental cherry trees and dancing lights made even the most elegant of Santa Barbara socialite’s jewels look dim in comparison. With the beautiful display, the talented performers and the tragic story, this evening will likely linger with the audience for quite some time.
– Emily Hunt / Daily Nexus
Conductor / The Consul
April 2014 (debut)
Assistant Conductor & Chorus Master
Lucas Benjaminh Krech
Lucas Benjaminh Krech
Heather Sterling is an accomplished makeup artist and hair stylist with a wide range of experience that includes work in theater, film, print, and fashion. She is a licensed cosmetologist and has a degree in fine art with an emphasis in psychology. Armed with an extensive knowledge of period makeup and hairstyles, Heather first designed for Opera Santa Barbara in 2006 for the company's performances of Tosca; since then her work has been seen in nearly forty OSB productions. She regularly designs for the Music Academy of the West's summer operas and she recently designed for the Granada Theatre's A Christmas Carol.
Hair & Makeup Designer / Tosca
February 2006 (debut)
Nina Yoshida Nelsen
Nina Yoshida Nelsen
In the 2019-2020 season Nina Yoshida Nelsen made her Portland Opera debut as Suzuki in Madama Butterfly. She also performed the world premiere of Blood Moon at Prototype Festival in New York City. Nina returned to Chicago Lyric Opera to cover Suzuki in Madama Butterfly and will return to the Santa Barbara Symphony to perform Beethoven's Mass in C. and sings the role of Fricka in Santa Barbara Opera’s Das Rheingold. She also reprised the role of Khanh in Huang Ruo's opera Bound at Juilliard. In October 2021 she makes a delayed debut with Boston Lyric Opera as Suzuki and a debut with Chicago Opera Theater in December, in a new work Becoming Santa Claus and a debut in March 2022 with Kentucky Opera in An American Dream.
In the 2018-2019 season, Nina made her Lyric Opera Chicago debut as Mama in Jack Perla's An American Dream. She also reprised the same role at Anchorage Opera. Nina returned to Opera Santa Barbara as Tituba in The Crucible and sang in their 25th Anniversary Gala concert.
In the 2017-2018 season, Ms. Nelsen returned to Seattle Opera singing the role of Mama in An American Dream. She also made a company debut with Manitoba Opera singing Suzuki in Madama Butterfly. She performed Mahler's Songs of a Wayfarer with the Grand Junction and Flagstaff Symphony Orchestras and returned to both the Santa Barbara and Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestras to perform the alto solos in Mozart's Requiem.
In the 2016-2017 season, Nina returned to the Santa Barbara Symphony as the Alto Soloist in Beethoven Symphony #9 and debuted with the Guelph Symphony Orchestra as the Mezzo Soloist in the Verdi Requiem. In the 2014-2015 season, Nina was thrilled to return to Utah Opera to perform Suzuki in Madama Butterfly. She then made her debut singing the same role with The Atlanta Opera. She also sang Beethoven's 9th Symphony with the Southwest Florida Symphony. Nina made her Seattle Opera mainstage debut summer 2015 singing the role of Mama in the world premiere of An American Dream.
Previous seasons include Houston Grand Opera: Khanh in the world premiere of Huang Ruo's new opera Bound. Opera Santa Barbara: Secretary in Menotti's The Consul. Verdi's Requiem with the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra, Suzuki with Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice and Opera Santa Barbara. Nashville Symphony Handel’s Messiah. The world premiere of Memory Stone, a chamber opera at Houston Grand Opera and Beethoven 9th at Carnegie Hall.
Sarasota Opera Suzuki in Madama Butterfly Avery Fisher Hall as the Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors. Mezzo Soloist in Mozart’s Coronation Mass with the Santa Barbara Symphony. Beethoven’s Symphony #9 with the Santa Fe Concert Association, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly at New York City Opera and at the Royal Albert Hall in London.