Il Tabarro/ El Amor Brujo
By Giacomo Puccini and Manuel de Falla
“Opera Santa Barbara is on a roll this season…one of the season’s most significant highlights” – SB Independent
Read our review here!
Join Opera SB for the perfect Halloween Double Bill! In De Falla’s El Amor Brujo, Candela is haunted by her late husband’s ghost as she tries to move on from her past obsession, and find love with the young Carmelo. This flamenco opera ballet will feature Santa Barbara native, Nina Yoshida Nelsen (Fricka, Das Rheingold ’21), and dancers from State Street Ballet.
Broken dreams, a fateful love affair, and a murder onboard a barge on the seine are accompanied by a haunting score in Puccini’s taut 60’ operatic thriller. Opera Santa Barbara favorites Todd Thomas (Falstaff, ’14) and Harold Meers (Pinkerton, Madama Butterfly ’19) return with director Layna Chianakas, making her mainstage directorial debut with Opera SB in this thrilling double bill. Soprano Alaysha Fox will be making her Opera SB debut in the role of Giorgetta. Scenic designer Steven C. Kemp (Crucible, Eugene Onegin) returns and Maestro Kostis Protopapas takes up the baton.
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.
In a career that has spanned three decades, Stage Director, Mezzo-Soprano, and Voice Teacher, Layna Chianakas has portrayed over 50 leading opera roles across the United States, including over 80 performances of Carmen. Most recently, she was heard with Intermountain Opera, in the role Mme. Larina in Eugene Onegin and with Livermore Valley Opera as Filipyevna in Eugene Onegin. She returns to both companies this spring as Emilia in Verdi’s Otello, and Marcellina in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro.
As an award-winning opera Stage Director, her most recent win was the 2021 American Prize for Opera Production for Livermore Valley Opera’s double-bill of Zemlinsky’s A Florentine Tragedy and Pucinni’s Gianni Schicchi and the National Opera Association third prize for Postcard from Morocco for the San José State Opera Theater. For Opera San José, she directed La Voix humaine, Hansel & Gretel, Carmen and Il barbiere di Siviglia. Other directing credits include, Le nozze di Figaro, Cavalli’s L’Ormindo, Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortileges, Die Fledermaus, Orpheus in the Underworld, as well as a fully-staged version of Mendelssohn’s Elijah. Rachel J. Peter’s Rootabaga Country marked her third production as the Stage Director for the Vivace Youth Chorus Summer Opera Workshop, which saw her productions of Menotti’s Chip and His Dog, and Krasa’s Brundibar. Opera Santa Barbara presented her Summer Youth Opera production of Ben Moore’s Odyssey, Jake Heggie’s At the Statue of Venus for Soprano Young Artist, Brooklyn Snow, and she returns again this October to stage their double-bill of Falla’s El amor brujo (with choreographer, Cecily MacDougall) and Puccini’s Il Tabarro.
In addition to a thriving private voice studio, Ms. Chianakas is Vocal Director of Musical Theater for Valley Christian High School Conservatory in San Jose, CA, where her credits include, Hello, Dolly!, Mary Poppins, Godspell, Found: A Musical Revue, and The Addams Family.
She lives in San Jose, CA with her husband, and two children; her greatest productions.
Last OSB Role: Stage Director for OSB’s Young Artist Showcase, At the Statue of Venus by Jake Heggie, Brooklyn Snow, Soprano
Upcoming Opera: Emilia, Otello, Livermore Valley Opera; Marcellina, Le nozze di Figaro, Intermountain Opera
Carmen / Carmen
Jan/Feb 2002 (debut)
Steven C. Kemp
Steven C. Kemp is a set designer for opera, theatre and events. Originally from Houston, Texas, he received his MFA from UC San Diego. He has designed for 30 opera companies and over 50 productions in NYC as well as for a multitude of regional theatres, cruise ships and international tours.
His design for Candide at Des Moines Metro Opera was recently nominated for the 2021 Golden Trezzini Awards for Architecture and Design.
For Opera San Jose his 20 designs include the acclaimed production of Idomeneo presented by the Packard Humanities Institute as well as the West Coast Premieres of Anna Karenina, Silent Night and the American premiere of Alma Deutscher’s Cinderella.
His opera designs have been presented at: LA Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Arizona Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, Des Moines Metro Opera, Central City Opera, Sarasota Opera, Florida Grand Opera, New Orleans Opera, Hawaii Opera Theatre, Opera Santa Barbara, Opera Omaha, Madison Opera, Kentucky Opera, Tulsa Opera, UrbanArias, Opera Grand Rapids, Merola Opera, Indiana University - Jacobs School of Music, San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
His regional and international credits include designs at Pasadena Playhouse, La Jolla Playhouse, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Antaeus Theatre Company, Bucks County Playhouse, Royal George Theatre, ReVision Theatre, Stages Repertory Theatre, Hudson Stage Company, Gulfshore Playhouse, Catholic University of America.
He has designed multiple productions for Norwegian Cruise Line, and numerous tours such as Baby Shark Live!, PJ Masks Live! Time to Be a Hero, Time to Save the Day, Dixie’s Tupperware Party and Ain’t Misbehavin’.
Steven also worked extensively as an Associate Designer for Robert Brill and David Gallo on Broadway, national tours, The Metropolitan Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Disney Theatricals, Dreamworks, and a multitude of other regional theatres and companies.
Additional work has included Associate Design credits for Jesse Poleshuck, Walt Spangler, Christopher Acebo, and Assistant Design for Alexander Dodge and exhibit design at Gallagher & Associates and Jack Morton Worldwide.
His opera design for Falstaff was selected as a finalist in the World Stage Design 2017 exhibit in Taipei, Taiwan.
His work was featured in the USA exhibit in the 2007 Prague Quadrennial and he was the 2008 USITT Rose Brand Scenic Design award winner.
Steven has presented lectures at many universities and was the 2013 Live Design Broadway Master Class speaker for associate set design. He specializes in 3D rendering, animation and previsualization.
Scenic Designer /
A Streetcar Named Desire
Scenic Designer / Rigoletto
Scenic Designer / Falstaff
March 2014 (debut)
A native of Helsinki, Finland, Helena Kuukka joins the Opera SB staff from Orlando, Florida. Helena’s Opera Santa Barbara debut was as Lighting Designer of The Barber of Seville in 2018, followed by Eugene Onegin in 2019. Other favorite opera designs include The Marriage of Figaro and Eugene Onegin (Florida Grand Opera), Aida (Vancouver Opera, Portland Opera), Samson and Delilah and La Boheme (Tulsa Opera), La Traviata and The Merry Widow (Kansas City Lyric Opera), and Rockland (Pine Mountain Music Festival). Her dance designs include Carmen, Giselle, Vampire’s Ball and Firebird for Orlando Ballet as well as Swan Lake, The Little Mermaid, and several contemporary works for Ballet Memphis. Helena is also a frequent designer at Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma where her credits include productions of Titanic, Oklahoma, Dreamgirls, Ragtime, Hello Dolly, Newsies, Mamma Mia and the world premiere of When We’re Gone.
Sir John Falstaff / Falstaff
Scarpia / Tosca
February 2006 (debut)
Soprano Alaysha Fox is an emerging artist based in Los Angeles. A current member of LA Opera’s Domingo Colburn Stein young artist program, she was most recently seen as Dorothee in The Anonymous Lover. Last season, Ms. Fox was seen as Erstes Mädchen in Mörder, Hoffnung der Frauen with the LA Philharmonic. This summer, Ms. Fox sings the role of bridesmaid in The marriage of Figaro with Santa Fe Opera.
Some previous credits include: Camelot with the Lincoln Center Theater, Kathleen Battle’s Underground Railroad recital, First Lady (Die Zauberfl?te), Lady Macbeth (Macbeth, Bloch), Female Chorus (The Rape of Lucretia), Penelope(Penelope), and featured artist in Lee Mingwei’s exhibit: Sonic Blossom with MetLiveArts.
Ms. Fox has been honored with several awards including: Loren Zachary Competition Finalist, HGO Concert of Arias Finalist, Grand finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, first place winner of the Joan Taub Ades Vocal competition, semi-finalist in the Elizabeth Connell dramatic soprano competition, and the Lotte Lenya emerging artist award.
An alumna of the Chautauqua Opera and Opera Saratoga young artist programs; Ms. Fox holds Bachelor and Master degrees from the Manhattan School of Music.
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.
Le Chevalier des Grieux /
Don José / Carmen
The Duke of Mantua / Rigoletto
Rinuccio / Gianni Schicchi
Feb/March 2006 (debut)
El Amor Brujo
Candelas, a beautiful and passionate woman, is haunted by the thoughts and spirit of the man she once loved; a fascinating and charismatic gypsy whose unfaithfulness created an unhappy life for her, while he was still alive . Still, she cannot seem to rid herself of his gruesome spell. She is fearful that the dead may one day return, and is haunted by these thoughts in the form of his Specter. Yet, she is young and strong and Spring arrives, along with Carmelo, a handsome and kind man who loves her deeply.
While happy with Carmelo’s advances, hard as she may try, Candelas cannot completely return his love, because of the obsession of her past. When Carmelo approaches her to share his passion, the Specter returns, and keeps them from sharing the kiss of perfect love.
Carmelo sees that the spell must be broken and hatches a plan. He knows that the Specter in life, could not resist the advances of beautiful women, so he and Candelas ask their friend, Lucia, to seduce and distract the Specter, in order for the two of them to exchange the perfect kiss over which the spell of the Specter cannot reign. Lucia, being curious and fun-loving, happily agrees and sets out to seduce the Specter.
The Specter tries to resist Lucia’s advances but her beauty and wit are stronger than his will. He succumbs to Lucia, as Candelas and Carmelo at last are able to exchange the kiss that defeats the evil influence of the Specter. He finally dies once and for all, and true love prevails.
Paris, 1927. Giorgetta, the young wife of the barge-owner Michele, is having an affair with the deckhand Luigi. At the end of a day’s work, she offers wine to him and the two other stevedores, Tinca and Talpa. They begin a playful dance, which is interrupted by Michele. Giorgetta asks him why he seems so troubled, but he remains silent. Talpa’s wife, Frugola, arrives to take him home. When Tinca claims he loves nothing more than to drink, Luigi suddenly blurts out that drink seems to be the only way to cope with their bleak existence (“Hai ben ragione”). Frugola dreams of a little house in the country and Giorgetta wishes she could leave the barge for a happier life. She and Luigi consider the beauty of the city (Duet: “È ben altro il mio sogno”). Michele appears from the cabin and Luigi, who can’t bear to see Giorgetta with her husband, asks to be left in Rouen on the next trip out. Michele dissuades him, arguing that there will be no work there. Giorgetta and Luigi arrange to meet later that evening; she will light a match once Michele has gone to sleep. Luigi goes off and Michele again comes on deck. He tries to evoke Giorgetta’s past love for him by recalling happier days before the death of their infant child a year earlier, but she rejects him. Alone, Michele expresses his suspicions that she is in love with another man (“Nulla! Silenzio!”). He settles down on the deck and lights his pipe. Seeing the lit match from a distance, Luigi rushes on board believing it is Giorgetta’s signal. Michele grabs him and forces him to confess his love for Giorgetta, then strangles him and conceals the body under his cloak. Giorgetta reappears on deck to apologize to Michele, who throws open his cloak exposing Luigi’s dead body.
(via Metropolitan Opera)