Trouble in Tahiti & Gallantry
By Leonard Bernstein & Douglas Moore
Opera Santa Barbara presents Trouble in Tahiti, Leonard Bernstein’s witty, haunting take on the supposed bliss of the American suburbs paired with Douglas Moore’s zany soap opera-within-an-opera Gallantry. The production will feature OSB’s talented Chrisman Studio Artists. “Our audiences has gotten to know this fantastic group of singers in supporting roles and in many community concerts – this is our chance to feature them in leading roles,” says Artistic and General Director Kostis Protopapas. “In addition, we are excited to honor the creative legacy of Leonard Bernstein. The Bernstein at 100 centennial is the perfect opportunity to re-introduce our community to Trouble in Tahiti in a fantastic new production conceived and staged by Alison Moritz.”
Trouble in Tahiti tells the story of Dinah and Sam, a married couple in 1950s suburbia trying to communicate as they wrestle with their growing alienation from each other. Sam retreats to the hyper-masculine, win-or-lose worlds of the office and the gym, while Dinah finds excitement and solace in the movies. All the while, an upbeat jazz trio that Bernstein referred to as “A Greek chorus born of the radio commercial” sings jingles espousing the bliss and convenience of the modern age. Trouble in Tahiti will be paired with Douglas Moore’s Gallantry. Audiences who know Moore through his opera The Ballad of Baby Doe may be surprised to experience this hilarious sendup of the American soap opera – complete with commercial interruptions. Gallantry is a classic backstage/onstage farce that takes place during the filming of a hospital-themed television melodrama.
This production is sponsored by the Mosher Foundation.
Stage Director Alison Moritz’s recent productions have been lauded as “about as gorgeous and accessible as any opera anywhere” (The Commercial Appeal), and her work has been praised for its “incredible economy of resources, lean production design, and eye for jest and banter” by The Orlando Examiner.
A “rising young star on the contemporary American opera scene” (89.5 Tulsa), Ms. Moritz’s diverse projects for 2017-2018 include the world premiere of Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek’s newest opera Proving Up (Washington National Opera, AOI), as well as new productions of Orpheus in the Underworld (New Orleans Opera), Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Madison Opera), Trouble in Tahiti (Opera Santa Barbara), and a genre-bending triple bill of rarities for Bard Conservatory (Pulcinella, Full Moon in March, and Svadba). This season, Ms. Moritz also directs a new staging of Madama Butterfly (Syracuse Opera), collaborates with IlluminArts to profile artist Ana Mendieta, joins the Santa Fe Opera directing staff, and continues ongoing collaborations with the Resonant Bodies Festival and The Knights.
Alison’s exciting 2016-2017 season included several innovative productions of American operas: The Manchurian Candidate (Austin Opera), Candide (Orlando Philharmonic), The Tender Land (Crane School of Music), Our Town (Townsend Opera, Fresno Grand Opera), Hydrogen Jukebox (Tri-Cities Opera), Cabildo, and Gallantry (Central City Opera). Recently, the Austin Chronicle named Alison’s production of The Manchurian Candidate the #1 Classical Music/Dance event of 2016, and the production received seven Austin Critic’s Award Nominations and four wins (including “Best Opera Production”).
Previously, Alison served as the Resident Assistant Director at both the Minnesota Opera and The Atlanta Opera. Her professional credits include engagements with Seattle Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Wolf Trap Opera, Central City Opera, Opera Memphis, and Chautauqua Opera. As a teacher and guest director, Alison has taught at Eastman School of Music, Maryland Opera Studio, Crane School of Music, and for Steven Blier and Caramoor’s Vocal Rising Stars program.
Alison continues both her acting training and administrative interests and has worked and trained with companies such as the SITI Company of New York City, OPERA America, Geva Theatre Center, Third Rail Projects, Nautilus Music Theater, and Shakespeare Festival St. Louis. She holds a B.A. in Music and Art History from Washington University in St. Louis and an M.M. from Eastman School of Music, and was the recipient of the 2015-2016 recipient of the SDCF/Kurt Weill Foundation Fellowship. Alison is based in New York City and St. Louis, Missouri.
Kyle Naig began his association with Opera Santa Barbara as a 2016 Studio Artist, working on The Elixir of Love and Suor Angelica/Gianni Schicchi. He returned to the company as rehearsal pianist and assistant conductor, most recently for Manon this past November. Recent performances include Laura Kaminsky’s As One with Des Moines Metro Opera, Porgy and Bess with the Glimmerglass Festival, and Tosca with Intermountain Opera Bozeman. He will return to Intermountain for Falstaff in May. This spring, Kyle will join Opera Memphis for the Midtown Opera Festival and this summer he will return to Glimmerglass. Kyle was a 2016-2017 Resident Artist with Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and he was recently named a 2018-1019 Houston Grand Opera Studio Artist.
Recognized for her dramatic commitment and commanding stage presence, mezzo-soprano Chelsea Melamed is quickly making a name for herself as a young classical vocalist. She recently covered Rosina for Opera Santa Barbara's production of The Barber of Seville. She has been described as being "as delightful as one hopes for Cherubino... Her first-act aria captured the breathless perfection of Mozart's portrayal of adolescent emotions" (Pittsburgh Tribune).
In the 2015-2017 seasons she performed with the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music while completing her doctorate in voice performance. With CCM she performed Firdaus Noman in a premier workshop of Perla's Shalimar the Clown (a co-production with Cincinnati Opera). Next she appeared as the Page of Herodias in Strauss' Salome, and Dorothée in Massenet's Cendrillon. She presented two degree recitals focused on the great mezzo-soprano song cycles of Debussy, Montsalvatge, Britten, Grieg, and Dvorak. During her time in Cincinnati she also performed consistently with sacred groups, singing solos in the Rossini Stabat Mater, the Mozart Vespers, and the Bach Cantata BWV 22.
In summer 2015 she was one of four Resident Artists with Pittsburgh Festival Opera, where she debuted the role of Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro). Other roles include Il Paggio (Rigoletto) with Livermore Valley Opera, Arsamene (Serse) with the San Francisco Conservatory Baroque Ensemble, Meg (Little Women) and La Ciesca (Gianni Schicchi) with the San Francisco Conservatory Opera Program, Annio (La Clemenza di Tito) and Cornelia (Giulio Cesare) with the Bay Area Summer Opera Theater Institute.
Chelsea also has performed a variety of comic and dramatic roles, including the Baker's Wife in Into the Woods for the San Francisco Conservatory Musical Theater Department as well as the Lawrence University Conservatory, Adah in Naughty Marietta for College Light Opera Company (Cape Cod, Massachusetts), and Paquette in Candide for the Lawrence University Conservatory.
Chelsea has been named a semifinalist in the Mildred Miller competition, and a finalist in the East Bay Opera League Competition. She has been seen on a variety of Cincinnati and Bay Area stages, including a much-admired performance as the alto soloist in Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass with Marin Baroque. In 2015 she made her New York City debut in an all-Strauss recital with the Cantanti Project.
A 2014 and 2013 CoOPERAtive Fellow and alumna of the Wesley Balk Opera/ Music Theater Institute, Chelsea received her bachelor of music degree from the Lawrence University Conservatory in Appleton, Wisconsin, and her master of music degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of Daniel Mobbs and Barbara Honn. She then went on to pursue her doctorate studies at CCM under the tutelage of Tom Baresel.
As an Opera Santa Barbara Chrisman Studio Artist, American baritone Byron Mayes recently performed the Guard in Manon and Fiorello in The Barber of Seville. He is a student at the University of California-Santa Barbara in pursuit of both a Masters of Music and a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Vocal performance under the guidance of Dr. Linda Di Fiore. He received his Bachelors of Music in Vocal Performance from Columbus State University where he studied with Professor Earl Coleman. While attending Columbus State, he performed the role of Belcore in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore, Bill Bobstay in Gilbert & Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore, and Melchior in Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors. Following graduation, Byron returned to his hometown of Houston, TX where he performed with the Houston Grand Opera chorus, participating in HGO's productions of Verdi's Otello, Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, and Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel. He has been a part of Opera Santa Barbara's chorus performing in their productions of Bizet's Carmen and Janácek's The Cunning Little Vixen.
As part of the Chrisman Studio Artist Program, Soprano Elle Valera recently sang Poussette and covered the title role in Manon and Berta in The Barber of Seville, and previously covered the roles of Donna Anna and Donna Elvira for the company's 2015 production of Don Giovanni. She is a recent L.A. District Winner and Western Region Finalist for the Metropolitan Council Auditions, and was a 2017 fellowship student at the Aspen Music Festival, where she covered the roles of Feu, Princesse, and Le Rossignol, and sang in the chorus of 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 on a full scholarship as a Graduate Opportunity Fellow and received her master’s degree in music from the Herb Alpert School of Music in 2014. While attending UCLA, she sang Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, the title role in Il Segreto di Susanna, and a central role in a staged production of Handel’s L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato. Elle additionally served as the soprano soloist in Mahler’s Fourth Symphony with the UCLA Philharmonia, and continues to perform regularly across Southern California as a soloist, most recently in conjunction with the Getty and Hammer Museums, and Symphony Irvine.
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.
A native of Rome, Pennsylvania, tenor Jonathan Walker-VanKuren holds a master’s degree from Michigan State University and a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, both in vocal performance. While at MSU, Mr. Walker-VanKuren received the 2016-17 Mackey Scholar of Vocal Music Endowment, which is awarded to one exceptional vocal graduate student each school year. His operatic performances include appearances as Martin in The Tender Land, Leon in Signor Deluso, Reverend Eager in A Room With a View, and, most recently, Basilio in Le nozze di Figaro. Mr. Walker-VanKuren made his Beethoven 9 debut with the Livingston Symphony Orchestra as the tenor soloist. He recently covered the roles of Des Grieux in Manon and Count Almaviva in The Barber of Seville for Opera Santa Barbara.
Bass-Baritone Vincent Grana received his B. M. Magna Cum Laude in Music Education and an M.M. in Vocal Performance from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.
While at Rutgers, Mr. Grana received many awards for academic and performing achievements including the Presser Foundation award and the Michael Fardink Memorial Award. He has also performed with the Castleton Festival under the baton of Maestro Lorin Maazel covering such roles as Alcindoro and Benoit (La Boheme), Simone (Gianni Schicchi), and Escamillo in a concert performance of Bizet’s Carmen.
Mr. Grana has performed in the Crested Butte Music Festival’s production of L’elisir d’amore (Dulcamara) and has worked with eminent artists such as Samuel Ramey. In 2013, Mr. Grana was named a Philadelphia District winner in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
Most recently Mr. Grana has sung with Sarasota Opera as one of their apprentice artists for the final season of the Verdi Cycle. This year, Mr. Grana received an encouragement award from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in the Los Angeles District. In the Spring of 2017, Mr. Grana performed the role of Zuniga with Dayton Opera in their production of Carmen.