The world’s sexiest gypsy, a bull fighter, and a soldier with a fatal obsession ignite the Granada stage in Opera Santa Barbara’s grand season opener. Spend an evening in Georges Bizet’s romantic and dangerous world of gypsies, smugglers, bull fighters and flamenco dancers, as Artistic Director Kostis Protopapas leads the orchestra with some of opera’s most famous tunes. Octavio Cardenas directs.
Performed in French with English surtitles.
Estimated Run Time: 3 Hours, including One 20-Minute Intermission
Season Sponsors: The Mithun Family Foundation & The Elaine F. Stepanek Foundation
Production Sponsor: Roger & Sarah Chrisman
Named artistic director of Opera Santa Barbara in August 2015, Kostis Protopapas made his company conducting debut with Carmen in November 2016.
2016 saw the end of Kostis' long association with Tulsa Opera, where he served as Artistic Director from November 2007 until May 2013, as Interim Executive Director from November 2011 until February 2013 and as Associate Conductor and Chorus Master from 2001 until 2007. During his 15-year tenure with the company, Kostis conducted 30 productions of a diverse repertoire extending from popular classics like La Boheme, Carmen and Cavalleria Rusticana/I Pagliacci to contemporary American works like Elmer Gantry, Of Mice and Men and A Streetcar Named Desire. 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 forget he's there."
Kostis' leadership at Tulsa Opera focused on furthering the company's long-standing reputation for artistic excellence and expanding the company's commitment to contemporary and American opera. Under his leadership the company produced a major American work each season between 2011 and 2016. Other key initiatives of his tenure included the development of the Tulsa Studio Artists Program, the expansion of company's outreach and educational programs, and the forging of new partnerships with arts organizations in Tulsa and beyond.
Between 202 and 2008 Kostis was also 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. 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; has been a regular guest conductor at Union Avenue Opera in St. Louis since 2007 and a guest conductor for the Des Moines Metro Opera, Opera Columbus, Shreveport Opera, El Paso Opera, Winter Opera St. Louis and the Westmoreland Symphony. In 2016-17 he will return to Winter Opera St. Louis to conduct La Cenerentola.
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 splits his time between Chicago and Santa Barbara, with his wife, soprano and stage director Cathleen Dunn-Protopapas, and their four cats, Gus, Miles, Zsa-Zsa and Gigi.
Born in the city of Guadalajara, Mexico, stage director Octavio Cardenas has been captivating audiences with his visionary, visceral, and physical style of directing. Upcoming productions include Puccini's La Boheme for the Minnesota Opera; Philip Glass' Galileo Galilei for Des Moines Metro Opera; Die Fledermaus for Baylor Opera; and Florencia en el Amazonas for the Tulsa Opera YAP program.
Octavio's recent productions of Silent Night for Fort Worth Opera and Kansas City Lyric Opera were described as "a breathtaking realization" with "many brilliant touches." The Kansas City Star called the Lyric Opera's production "one of its finest performances in recent memory." Other recent productions include Rappaccini's Daughter for Des Moines Metro Opera; The Magic Flute for Opera Neo in San Diego; The Giver for Minnesota Opera; and As One for Urban Arias.
As Director of Opera for Baylor University, Octavio has directed productions of L'elisir d'amore; Turn of the Screw; Dialogues of the Carmelites; and Rita. Mr. Cardenas currently serves as the Head of the Directing Staff at Des Moines Metro Opera and has also been on the directing staff at the Chautauqua Opera. He joined the Minnesota Opera Artists Program for four consecutive seasons, working on all main stage productions and directing Andrew Sinclair's production of Pearl Fishers. Other directing credits include Susannah Loyola Opera Theatre, which won the award for "Best College Production 2012" by the Gambit Magazine in New Orleans.
Mr. Cardenas received his MFA in Theatre from UCLA; a Masters in Music from the University of South Carolina; and a BA in Music from Centenary College in Louisiana.
Following recent performances of Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana, Leann Sandel-Pantaleo was praised by the Portland Press Herald with the exclamation that “she has a glorious voice…. and she took fire.”
During the 2016-2017 season, Ms. Leann Sandel-Pantaleo makes her company debut with Opera Santa Barbara, singing the title role in Carmen, and joins Sarasota Opera as the Old Prioress in Dialogues of the Carmelites. Last season she returned to the role of Amneris in Aida with Sarasota Opera, while the 2014-2015 season brought her participation in the world premiere of Enemies, A Love Story with Palm Beach Opera, in which she sang the role of Tamara. The 2013-2014 season saw Ms. Sandel-Pantaleo join Lyric Opera of Chicago to cover Jezibaba in Rusalka, appear with both Opera Omaha and Tulsa Opera as the title role in Carmen, and make her role debut as Augusta Tabor in The Ballad of Baby Doe with Chautauqua Opera.
During the 2012-2013 season, Ms. Sandel-Pantaleo joined the Lyric Opera of Chicago, to cover the Witch in Hänsel und Gretel, and returned to Teatro alla Scala and the Berlin Staatsoper as Siegrune in Die Walküre, and to North Carolina Opera, as Amneris in Aida. She also sang Siegrune at the BBC Proms in London.
Other recent credits include Ursule in Béatrice et Bénédict with Houston Grand Opera and Amneris in Aida with Portland Opera. She has joined the Metropolitan Opera as Siegrune in Die Walküre and Flora in La traviata as well as Die Ägyptische Helena, Luisa Miller, Manon, and Parsifal.
Tenor Harold Meers has rapidly established himself as one of the outstanding American singers currently assaying the romantic Italian and French repertoire. With his foray into the master works of Donizetti, Gounod, Massenet, Puccini and Verdi, Mr. Meers has garnered the sort of critical praise often reserved for opera's brightest hopefuls.
Since his professional debut with Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Mr. Meers has frequented the principal lyric venues of North America, including bows with the San Francisco Opera, San Diego Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Baltimore Opera, New Orleans Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Minnesota Opera, Cleveland Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Opera Omaha, Nashville Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Sarasota Opera and Virginia Opera among others.
Recent seasons were highlighted by Mr. Meers being heard as Hoffmann in Madison Opera’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Macduff in Minnesota Opera’s production of Verdi’s Macbeth, Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème with San Diego Opera and Minnesota Opera, Soloist with the Madison Symphony and joining the roster of the Metropolitan Opera as Rodolfo (cover) in La Bohème and as Cassio (Cover) in the new production of Verdi’s Otello. In addition, he was heard as Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly with both Nashville Opera and Columbus Opera.
Other recent engagements include partnering with Denyce Graves as Don Jose in Carmen with Opera Charleston, performances of Ruggero in a stunning production of Puccini’s seldom performed La Rondine, Luigi in Il Tabarro, Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto, and as Charles for the world premiere of Anton Coppola's La Coupe et les Lèvres.
Jeanine De Bique
Trinidadian soprano Jeanine De Bique's luscious tone and compelling stage presence have led to accolades around the world. Her engagements in the 2015-16 season include Consuelo in John Adams' I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky at Italy's Opera di Roma, Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem with Grand Rapids Symphony, Messiah with Boston Baroque, Mozart's Mass in C Minor with Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, his Mass in C Major "Coronation" with Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and Sister Rose in Heggie's Dead Man Walking with Fresno Grand Opera and Townsend Opera.
Ms. De Bique's engagements in 2014-15 included singing in recital for Cincinnati's Matinee Musicale and in Canada at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts; and her debut with Theater Heidelberg as Climene in Jommelli's Fetonte. She began her 2013-14 season with her debut as Juliette in Romeo et Juliette with the St. Petersburg Opera, Florida. She then sang as soprano soloist in Messiah with Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and debuted as Clara in Porgy and Bess with the Royal Danish Opera. Other season highlights include performances of "Exultate Jubilate" with the Sinfonia Rotterdam at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, performances with the North Netherlands Orchestra in the Netherlands, a recital in Washington DC at the National Museum for Women in the Arts, singing as soloist in Messiah with Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and in Danielpour's A Woman's Life in her debut with the Rochester Philharmonic. In summer 2014 she debuted as Sister Rose in Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking with Central City Opera.
With a bachelors and masters degrees from the Manhattan School of Music, Ms. De Bique has won many prestigious international awards, including the Arleen Auger Prize at the Hertogenbosch International Vocal Competition (Netherlands), Third Prize in the Viotti International Music Competition (Italy), the Borse di Studio Prize at the International Competition for Young Opera Singers (Italy), and the Gerda Lissner Vocal Competition (New York). She was a finalist and a study grant award recipient of the 2011 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and received a study grant from the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation.
Keith Phares’ 2016-2017 engagements include returns to Florentine Opera as Hurstwood in the première of Robert Aldridge’s Sister Carrie, Arizona Opera as Elder Tull in the première of Craig Bohmler’s Riders of the Purple Sage, Manitoba Opera as Albert in Werther and Opera Theatre of St. Louis in Philip Glass’ The Trial.
In recent seasons he has appeared as Zurga in Les pêcheurs des perles with Seattle Opera, Ravenal in Show Boat with Kentucky Opera, soloist in Carmina burana with Madison Symphony, Orin Mannon in Mourning Becomes Electra and John Sorel in The Consul with Florida Grand Opera, Marcello in La bohème with Seattle Opera, Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro with New Orleans Opera, the title role of Robert Aldridge’s Elmer Gantry and Dandini in La cenerentola with Tulsa Opera, and Maximilian and The Captain in Candide with the São Paolo Symphony under the baton of Marin Alsop.
His previous seasons include the première of Three Decembers with Houston Grand Opera and San Francisco Opera, the première of Elmer Gantry with Nashville Opera and the subsequent, Grammy award-winning recording of Elmer Gantry with Florentine Opera, prompting Opera News to write “Keith Phares's scrupulously rendered Elmer Gantry appears a strong contender for iconographic recognition…[his] achievement will prove a difficult act to follow.” He has sung Figaro in Il barbière di Siviglia and Ned Keene in Peter Grimes with Washington National Opera, Fritz in Die tote Stadt with New York City Opera, Dandini in La cenerentola with Glimmerglass Opera and Carmina burana with San Francisco Symphony.
Place: Seville, Spain, and surrounding hills
Time: Around 1820
In Seville by a cigarette factory, soldiers comment on the townspeople. Among them is Micaëla, a peasant girl, who asks for a corporal named Don José. Moralès, another corporal, tells her he will return with the changing of the guard. The relief guard, headed by Lieutenant Zuniga, soon arrives, and José learns from Moralès that Micaëla has been looking for him. When the factory bell rings, the men of Seville gather to watch the female workers-especially their favorite, the gypsy Carmen. She tells her admirers that love is free and obeys no rules. Only one man pays no attention to her: Don José. Carmen throws a flower at him, and the girls go back to work. José picks up the flower and hides it when Micaëla returns. She brings a letter from José’s mother, who lives in a village in the countryside. As he begins to read the letter, Micaëla leaves. José is about to throw away the flower when a fight erupts inside the factory between Carmen and another girl. Zuniga sends José to retrieve the gypsy. Carmen refuses to answer Zuniga’s questions, and José is ordered to take her to prison. Left alone with him, she entices José with suggestions of a rendezvous at Lillas Pastia’s tavern. Mesmerized, he agrees to let her get away. As they leave for prison, Carmen escapes. Don José is arrested.
Carmen and her friends Frasquita and Mercédès entertain the guests at the tavern. Zuniga tells Carmen that José has just been released. The bullfighter Escamillo enters, boasting about the pleasures of his profession, and flirts with Carmen, who tells him that she is involved with someone else. After the tavern guests have left with Escamillo, the smugglers Dancaïre and Remendado explain their latest scheme to the women. Frasquita and Mercédès are willing to help, but Carmen refuses because she is in love. The smugglers withdraw as José approaches. Carmen arouses his jealousy by telling him how she danced for Zuniga. She dances for him now, but when a bugle call is heard he says he must return to the barracks. Carmen mocks him. To prove his love, José shows her the flower she threw at him and confesses how its scent made him not lose hope during the weeks in prison. She is unimpressed: if he really loved her, he would desert the army and join her in a life of freedom in the mountains. José refuses, and Carmen tells him to leave. Zuniga bursts in, and in a jealous rage José fights him. The smugglers return and disarm Zuniga. José now has no choice but to join them.
Carmen and José quarrel in the smugglers’ mountain hideaway. She admits that her love is fading and advises him to return to live with his mother. When Frasquita and Mercédès turn the cards to tell their fortunes, they foresee love and riches for themselves, but Carmen’s cards spell death-for her and for José. Micaëla appears, frightened by the mountains and afraid to meet the woman who has turned José into a criminal. She hides when a shot rings out. José has fired at an intruder, who turns out to be Escamillo. He tells José that he has come to defend Carmen, and the two men fight. The smugglers separate them, and Escamillo invites everyone, Carmen in particular, to his next bullfight. When he has left, Micaëla emerges and begs José to return home. He agrees when he learns that his mother is dying, but before he leaves he warns Carmen that they will meet again.
Back in Seville, the crowd cheers the bullfighters on their way to the arena. Carmen arrives on Escamillo’s arm, and Frasquita and Mercédès warn her that José is nearby. Unafraid, she waits outside the entrance as the crowds enter the arena. José appears and begs Carmen to forget the past and start a new life with him. She calmly tells him that their affair is over: she was born free and free she will die. The crowd is heard cheering Escamillo. José keeps trying to win Carmen back. She takes off his ring and throws it at his feet before heading for the arena. José stabs her to death.