Jules Massenet



“Opera Santa Barbara pulled off a major artistic coup last weekend, presenting a sprawling and splendid production of Massenet’s Manon – the first presentation of the opera in Santa Barbara. A beautifully balanced cast, featuring Sarah Coburn in the title role, delivered an entertainment that was both amusing and serious – no small feat. OSB’s Artistic Director Kostis Protopapas presided from the pit with compelling flexibility and style. Sarah Coburn, in her OSB debut, sang the role of Manon for the first time in her career. What a knockout! Her presence on stage was mesmerizing, her death scene visceral. Protopapas has realized a long-standing personal ambition for his company wit this complicated and vocally challenging production… chalk up a big win on Opera Santa Barbara’s artistic scoreboard.”
Daniel Kepl, VOICE Magazine



Photos by David Bazemore


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Kostis Protopapas

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.

Stage Director:

Kristine McIntyre


Stage Director /

November 2017 (debut)

Scenic Designer:

Keith Brumley


Scenic Designer / Manon

November 2017


Scenic Designer / La rondine

April 2017


Scenic Designer /
Suor Angelica & Gianni Schicchi

April 2016 (debut)

Lighting Designer:

Marcus Dilliard


Lighting Designer / Manon

November 2017 (debut)

Costume Designer:

Roger Kirk


Costume Designer / Manon

November 2017 (debut)

Hair & Makeup Designer:

Heather Sterling

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)

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Manon Lescaut:

Sarah Coburn


Manon Lescaut /

November 2017 (debut)

Le Chevalier des Grieux:

Harold Meers


Le Chevalier des Grieux /

November 2017


Don José / Carmen

November 2016


The Duke of Mantua / Rigoletto

Feb/March 2007


Rinuccio / Gianni Schicchi

Feb/March 2006 (debut)


Alex DeSocio


Lescaut /

November 2017 (debut)

Le Compte des Grieux:

Colin Ramsey

Since making his operatic debut as Sparafucile in Verdi’s Rigoletto, bass-baritone Colin Ramsey’s “majestic, orotund, ravishing bass” (Opera Today) has been heard in repertoire spanning continents and centuries. The 2016-17 season finds him making his company debut at Opera San Jose as Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor. He continues his residence in San Jose reprising Colline in La Bohème and Basilio in Il Barbiere di Siviglia. He will also make his role debut as Father Palmer in the West Coast Premiere of Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell’s Pulitzer Prizewinning Silent Night.

16-17 will also feature several concert debuts including Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Pacific Symphony, the Verdi Requiem with the La Jolla Symphony, and Dvorak’s Stabat Mater with the Berkeley Community Chorus and Symphony.

Colin’s past performances have brought him to the stages of Seattle Opera, Opera Santa Barbara, Wolf Trap Opera, Austin Opera, Sarasota Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and Los Angeles Philharmonic. He has been featured as Alidoro in Rossini’s La Cenerentola, Collatinus in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia, Seneca in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea, Mr. Kofner in Menotti’s The Consul, Il Frate in Verdi’s Don Carlo, Angelotti in Tosca, the Sprecher in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Giorgio in the US Premiere of Paisiello’s rarely performed Nina, and as a “sonorous” (Classical King Seattle) Cadmus and Somnus in Handel’s Semele.

Guillot de Morfontaine:

Benjamin Brecher

Benjamin Brecher, tenor, has performed over fifty operatic roles and sung with over fifty symphonies throughout the world. He has performed over ten roles with The New York City Opera beginning in 1997, specializing in the bel canto opera repertoire. Other performances include: Santa Fe Opera, Opera de Montreal, Opera de Nice, and Glimmerglass Opera, among others. On the concert stage, he has sung with the orchestras of Chicago, Chautauqua, Mexico City, Rome, Seattle, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Budapest, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Toronto Symphony Milwaukee, and the National Symphony at Kennedy Center to mention a few. 2015-2016 will bring: Beethoven’s Ninth in Santa Rosa, Carmina Burana with Florida Symphony, Holiday ‘Pops’ concerts with The Jacksonville Symphony, along with the role of Gerald in Lakmé in Fresno and the world Premiere performances of Shot! A World Changed, an opera about the assassination of President McKinley in Buffalo. Also in 2015 his tenth commercial CD will be released, “Forgotten Liszt”, with Robert Koenig, pianist. The recording will include five world premiere recordings of lost Liszt songs and other of his rare works along a tour of recitals in Fresno, Modesto, Long Beach, and in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen Scotland. Professor Brecher is an Associate Professor at UCSB.

Monsieur de Brétigny:

Matt Hanscom


Monsieur de Brétigny / Manon

November 2017 (debut)


Elle Valera

Soprano Elle Valera is a recent alumna of Opera Santa Barbara's Chrisman Studio Artist Program. As part of the program, she sang Berta in The Barber of Seville and Poussette in Manon; she also covered the title role in Manon and both Donna Anna and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni for the company. She is a recent L.A. District Winner and Western Region Finalist for the Metropolitan Council Auditions. She was a 2017 fellowship student at the Aspen Music Festival, where she covered the roles of Feu, Princesse, and Le Rossignol in Ravel's L’Enfant et les Sortilèges. In previous years, she was an Apprentice Artist with Central City Opera, where she performed the roles of Madame Herz in The Impresario and Sarah in The Ballad of Baby Doe, taking home Central City’s McGlone Guild Award for outstanding performance. Elle attended UCLA's Herb Alpert School of Music on a full scholarship and received her master’s degree in music in 2014. While at UCLA, she sang Donna Anna in Don Giovanni and the title role in Il Segreto di Susanna. Ms. Valera holds a bachelor of music degree from the University of California, Irvine, and is the recipient of several awards, including the 2016 Pasadena Opera Guild Young Artist Award and an Encouragement Award from the Los Angeles Metropolitan Council Auditions in 2014. Beyond opera, Elle is a plus-size model represented by Bicoastal Management and an Instagram influencer and blogger, promoting body positivity and diversity.

Chelsea Melamed photo

Chelsea Melamed


Dinah / Trouble in Tahiti

April 2018


Javotte / Manon

November 2017


Chrisman Studio Artist



Molly Clementz


Rosette / Manon

November 2017


Bianca / La rondine

April 2017


Lapak; Dog; Woodpecker /
The Cunning Little Vixen

March 2017


Mercédès / Carmen

November 2016


La Ciesca / Gianni Schicchi

April 2016 (debut)


Mosher Studio Artist

2015–2016, 2016–2017

Manon, November 2017, David Bazemore Photo