- ‘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
Mezzo-soprano Nina Yoshida Nelsen has been hailed as a “rich voiced, expressive mezzo-soprano” by San Francisco Classical Voice and “appealingly direct and honest in tone and bearing” by Richard Dyer of the Boston Globe. Nina was most recently seen at Opera Santa Barbara as the Secretary in The Consul (2014). Previous performances with the company include both Kate Pinkerton (2003) and Suzuki (2012) in Madama Butterfly. Her Suzuki has also been heard at New York City Opera, Utah Opera, The Atlanta Opera, Sarasota Opera, Manitoba Opera, the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice, and at Royal Albert Hall in London. Ms. Nelsen has performed leading roles in the world premieres of several important new operas, including the role of Mama in Jack Perla's An American Dream with Seattle Opera, Khanh in Huang Ruo's Bound and the role of Woman in Marty Ragen's Memory Stone (both with Houston Grand Opera). Other operatic highlights include the Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors at Avery Fisher Hall and Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro with Utah Opera. Ms. Nelsen is also in-demand as a concert soloist. She has sung the alto solo in Beethoven’s Symphony #9 at Carnegie Hall, with the Santa Fe Concert Association, the Southwest Florida Symphony, and the Santa Barbara Symphony. She has sung Verdi's Requiem with the Guelph Symphony Orchestra and the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra, Mozart's Requiem with the Santa Barbara Symphony and the Southwest Florida Symphony, Handel’s Messiah with the Nashville Symphony, Mozart’s Coronation Mass with the Santa Barbara Symphony and the Peoria Symphony, and Mahler's Songs of a Wayfarer with the Grand Junction and Flagstaff Symphony Orchestras. Ms. Nelsen has received awards and recognition from the Gerda Lissner, Profant, and Santa Barbara's Performing Arts Scholarship Foundations; she was a National Finalist in the vocal competitions of the Jensen Foundation, the Loren L. Zachary Society, and the Metropolitan Opera. She is a 2009 graduate of the Academy of Vocal Arts (AVA) in Philadelphia, where she studied with Bill Schuman; she is also an alumna of the Opera Institute at Boston University.