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

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. As General Director Kostis assembled a team of enthusiastic overachievers with a passion for innovation and the desire to strengthen the company’s bond with the community, who consistently deliver programs and communications far greater than what can be expected from the size of the company.

Performance highlights from Kostis’ tenure include grand opera classics like Madama Butterfly, Manon, and Eugene Onegin as well as contemporary works like Daniel Catan’s Il Postino, the mariachi opera Cruzar la cara de la luna,  and Robert Ward’s The Crucible, which the Santa Barbara Independent called “one of the season’s most exciting performances of any kind in Santa Barbara”.

Between March 2020 and June 2021, under Kostis’ leadership Opera Santa Barbara remained active and fully staffed.  It was the first performing arts organization in Santa Barbara to offer streaming programming, and one of only two opera companies in California to present three live operas in the 2020-21 season.  Additionally, Opera Santa Barbara became an advocacy leader for the reopening of the performing arts, and funded live performances by local musicians through “Operation Eurydice”.   

Before coming to Santa Barbara Kostis was the Artistic Director of Tulsa Opera since 2008.  He previously  was an Assistant Conductor with 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.


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

Bass-Baritone Colin Ramsey has been lauded for his “majestic, rotund, ravishing bass” (Opera Today). During the 20-21 season, Mr. Ramsey joined San Diego Opera as Colline in La bohème, as well as returning to Pacific Opera Project as Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, and the Festival Lyrique en Mar as Leporello in Don Giovanni (COVID19). Other recent engagements include returns to Opera Santa Barbara as Frère Laurent in Romèo et Juliette and the Bonze in Madama Butterfly, joining the Festival Lyrique en Mar as Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor and the bass soloist in Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle, and multiple productions of La bohème as Colline including Opera Idaho, Gulfshore Opera, and Opera Buffs Inc in Los Angeles. In upcoming seasons, Mr. Ramsey will return to Opera Santa Barbara as Fafner in Jonathan Dove’s arrangement of Das Rheingold, and San Diego Opera, singing The Speaker and 2nd Armored Man in Die Zauberflöte (COVID19), Capulet in Romèo et Juliette, and Betto in Gianni Schicchi.


His 2018-19 season was an exciting one including a return to the Los Angeles Philharmonic for performances of John Cage’s Europeras directed by Yuval Sharon. Mr. Ramsey also made his San Diego Opera debut as Marullo in Rigoletto and in the spring of 2019, Mr. Ramsey returned to Opera Santa Barbara for an exciting and timely production of Robert Ward’s The Crucible singing the role of Reverend Hale.


Other recent performances have seen him in role and company debuts singing Le Comte des Grieux in Manon, The Speaker in Die Zauberflöte, and his Santa Fe Opera debut singing the Registrar in Madama Butterfly and covering Edward Teller in John Adam’s Dr. Atomic in a landmark production directed by Peter Sellars. Mr. Ramsey’s unique “smoky” timbre has been well lent to additional roles such as Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Figaro in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, Guglielmo in Così fan Tutte, Don Basilio in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Father Palmer in Silent Night, Alidoro in Rossini’s La CenerentolaCollatinus 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, and 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