The Cunning Little Vixen
Humans and animals bump into one another in a moonlit Czech forest in Leoš Janácek’s humorous and tender allegory about the circle of life. Filled with dancing dragonflies, talking frogs, a litter of fox cubs and some endearingly tipsy humans, our beautiful new production by director Crystal Manich will warm the hearts and light up the faces of adults and children alike. Kostis Protopapas conducts.
There are special prices for Children at just $14!
Sung in English with English surtitles
Estimated Run Time: 1 Hour, 40 Minutes, performed without intermission
Season Sponsors: The Mithun Family Foundation & The Elaine F. Stepanek Foundation
Production Sponsors: The National Endowment for the Arts & The Towbes Fund for the Performing Arts / Michael & Anne Towbes
Artist Sponsors: Dan & Meg Burnham, Patricia Gregory and the Baker Foundation, Bernie Gondos, Sarah Jane Lind, Duncan & Suzanne Mellichamp, Bob & Sandy Urquhart, Seaside Gardens / Fred & Linda Wudl
Kostis Protopapas was named Artistic Director of Opera Santa Barbara in August 2015. He will make his conducting debut with the company in November 2016, conducting the season's opening production of Carmen. The company's 2016-17 season, the first to be planned entirely by Kostis, will also include two company premieres: Janacek's The Cunning Little Vixen, in a new production by Crystal Manich starring Isabel Bayrakdarian, and Puccini's La Rondine.
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.
Crystal Manich, international director, has been called “masterly in presenting the dramatic confrontation” and for her “nuanced”, “imaginative” and “lively staging” by the New York Times and Wall Street Journal among other publications. As a diverse director of theatre, Crystal has directed musicals and operas at various companies in the United States including Pittsburgh Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, North Carolina Opera, Opera Columbus, Utah Opera, Ash Lawn Opera, Lyric Opera Baltimore among others, and abroad with Buenos Aires Lírica in Argentina and Pinchgut Opera in Australia. She also served as Assistant Artistic Director on Cirque du Soleil's Quidam tour in South America in 2009-2010. Recent engagements include a return to Buenos Aires directing Verdi’s Ernani; Handel’s Riccardo Primo for Pittsburgh Opera; La Cenerentola in Arizona; Carmen for Opera Columbus. She will also direct a new adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s play The Master Builder. Crystal is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University.
A winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 1997 - the same year she graduated from the University of Toronto cum laude with a degree in biomedical engineering, soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian thereafter found her career taking rapid wing. She has performed in the Lyric Opera of Chicago's world premiere production of William Bolcom's A View from the Bridge, Valencienne in San Francisco Opera's The Merry Widow, with the Metropolitan Opera debut, in the New York premiere of Bolcom's A View from the Bridge. She has performed Zerlina in Don Giovanni (New York, Houston, Salzburg), Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro (Los Angeles, London), and Pamina in The Magic Flute (New York, Toronto). Her roles at her home-base theater, Toronto's Canadian Opera Company, range from Gluck's Euridice to Debussy's Mélisande to Poulenc's Blanche in Dialogues des Carmélites; and away from home she's shone as Monteverdi's Poppea in Barcelona, Handel's Romilda (Serse) in Dresden, and Janá?ek's Vixen in New York, Florence, and the Saito Kinen Festival in Matsumoto, Japan.
But opera is only one page of the Bayrakdarian résumé. An ever-active concertizer, she's appeared with the premier orchestras of New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Paris, London, Vienna, Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal under the baton of such eminent conductors as Seiji Ozawa, James Conlon, David Zinman, Michael Tilson Thomas, Alan Gilbert, Nicholas McGegan, Christoph von Dohnányi, Christoph Eschenbach, Colin Davis, Sir Andrew Davis, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Mariss Jansons, Leonard Slatkin, James Levine, Anne Manson, Bramwell Tovey, Peter Oundjian and Richard Bradshaw.
Her versatility is also reflected in being the featured vocalist on the Grammy-award winning soundtrack of the blockbuster film The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers, and on the soundtrack of Atom Egoyan's Ararat; a trance music collaboration with electronica band "Delerium", which garnered another Grammy nomination
Ms Bayrakdarian is the recipient of many awards, including first prize in Plácido Domingo's prestigious Operalia competition, the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee and the Diamond Jubilee Medals, the Arbor Award from the University of Toronto, the George London Foundation Award, and the Canada Council's Virginia Parker Prize.
Baritone David Kravitz has been hailed for his "large, multi-layered," and “exceedingly expressive” voice, his "deeply considered acting," and his "deep understanding of the text." The New York Times described him as “a charismatic baritone” and praised his “vividly etched and satisfying interpretation,” and Opera News declared him "magnificently stentorian and resonant.” His recent opera engagements include Washington National Opera (Davis Miller in the world premiere of Approaching Ali), Skylight Music Theatre (Scarpia in Tosca), Chautauqua Opera (Balstrode in Peter Grimes), Grand Harmonie (Pizarro in Fidelio), Ash Lawn Opera (Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof), Opera Saratoga (Don Magnifico in La cenerentola), Boston Lyric Opera (Abraham in Clemency), Emmanuel Music (Nick Shadow in The Rake’s Progress and Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby), and New England Philharmonic (Wozzeck in Wozzeck).
Acclaimed as one of “the finest dramatic concert singers active today,” his concert appearances include the Boston Symphony Orchestra (to which he returns this season for Der Rosenkavalier), the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony, the Virginia Symphony, Boston Baroque, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, and Emmanuel Music, under conductors such as James Levine, Andris Nelsons, Bernard Haitink, and Charles Dutoit. An exceptionally versatile artist, Mr. Kravitz’s repertoire ranges from Bach to Verdi to Britten to contemporary composers such as Mohammed Fairouz, Paul Moravec, and Elena Ruehr. Mr. Kravitz has recorded for the Naxos, BIS, Koch International Classics, BMOP/sound, Albany Records, and New World labels. His distinguished legal career included clerkships with the Hon. Sandra Day O'Connor and the Hon. Stephen Breyer.
Mezzo soprano Lauren McNeese’s colorful, resonant voice and beautiful stage presence have established her as a sought out artist in the leading lyric mezzo-soprano repertoire. Engagements for 2016 and beyond include her return to Intermountain Opera a Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, the title role in La cenerentola with San Diego Opera, and The Cunning Little Vixen with Opera Santa Barbara. The 2014-2015 season saw La Cenerentola with Tulsa Opera, and returns to Lyric Opera of Chicago for Wagner’s Tannhäuser, and to Dallas Opera as Laura in Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta. Engagements for the 2013-2014 season included Cherubino in Tulsa Opera’s Le nozze di Figaro, the title role in La Cenerentola with Opera Omaha and Intermountain Opera, and concert appearances with the Williamsburg Symphonia, Shreveport Symphony Orchestra for Mozart’s Requiem, and Augustana College for the Messiah. Ms. McNeese’s recently made her Metropolitan Opera debut in Wagner’s Parsifal, her role debut as Giovanna Seymour in Donizetti's Anna Bolena with Minnesota Opera and Dorabella with Intermountain Opera. In 2012 she made her debut with Dallas Opera and returned to San Francisco Opera and Ravinia Festival as the Zweite Dame in Die Zauberflöte. Additioanl recent highlights include her role debut as Hansel in Hansel and Gretel with Intermountain Opera, her return to Michigan Opera Theater as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro. And her appearance with San Francisco Opera as Wellgunde and Rossweisse in the critically acclaimed production of Der Ring des Nibelungen directed by Francesca Zambello and conducted by Donald Runnicles.
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.
Bass-Baritone, E. Scott Levin, described as having a “smooth, buttery voice,” “incredibly sharp timing,” and “a gifted comic actor,” has been making audiences laugh for the past fifteen years. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Washington University in St. Louis and Graduate Certificate in Vocal Performance from the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music. Since 2002, Scott has sung in over twenty productions with Union Avenue Opera in Saint Louis and many productions with Pacific Opera Project in Los Angeles. He has also sung with many other companies in the Los Angeles area including Long Beach Opera, Redlands Opera Theater, Center Stage Opera, OperaWorks, Orange County Opera, and Celestial Opera. In 2015, he made debuts at Townsend/Fresno Opera as the Sacristan in Tosca, Los Angeles Opera “Off-Grand” as Babayan (Bartolo) in Figaro 90210!, and on the LA Opera mainstage as Dr. Spinelloccio in Gianni Schicchi, starring Placido Domingo. Scott made his debut at OSB last season as Simone in Gianni Schicchi, and he is thrilled to be returning.
On a summer’s afternoon in the forest, Blue Dragonflies dance around the Badger’s sett. The Forester, made sleepy by the heat and his search for poachers, has a doze. Insects and small animals are at play. The young Vixen scares the Frog, who jumps onto the Forester’s nose. Waking, he grabs the Vixen and decides to take her home to amuse the children. In the courtyard of the Forester’s lodge, his Dog sidles up to the Vixen with amorous intent, but he gets short shrift. Two boys torment her, so she bites them. The Forester is forced to tie her up. She falls asleep and dreams of herself as a young girl. At dawn, the Cock starts lording it over his hens. The Vixen urges them to free themselves of his domination. To lead them on, she plays dead. As they come to inspect her, she grabs the Cock and the hens and dispatches them all. As the Forester tries to intervene she pushes him over and escapes.
In the forest, the Vixen upbraids the Badger for occupying such a large sett alone. Wanting the sett for herself, she urinates on him and he stumps off, insulted. The Vixen claims her den. At the village inn the Forester, Parson and Schoolmaster are chewing the fat. The Forester teases the Schoolmaster about an old girlfriend Terynka; he fires back about the Forester’s failure to subdue the Vixen. Goaded further, the Schoolmaster goes home, soon followed by the others. Walking tipsily through the nocturnal forest, the Schoolmaster mistakes the Vixen hiding behind a large sunflower for his beloved, Terynka. The Parson muses on the girl who betrayed him long ago. The Forester in pursuit of the Vixen, fires at her and the others run away. The Vixen encounters a handsome Fox and is smitten; he is equally impressed. He woos her with a dead rabbit. They declare their love. They disappear into her den to consummate their union. When they come out, they decide to get married. The forest creatures celebrate their wedding.
In the forest the Forester confronts the poacher Harašta, who boasts that he is going to marry Terynka. The Forester decides to set a trap for the Vixen. Both leave. The little foxes come out to play. Their mother discovers the trap and decides to taunt whoever is responsible. Seeing Harašta she lies in his path. He puts his basket of chickens down, picks up his gun and gives chase but falls flat on his face. The foxes raid his basket. Nursing a broken nose, Harašta fires aimlessly and kills the Vixen. Back at the inn, the Forester tells the Schoolmaster he has found the Vixen’s den deserted. The latter learns that Terynka is getting married that day, wearing a new muff made from fox-skin. They talk about the Parson, who has left for a new village where he’s lonely. The Forester pays his bill and sets off for home. In the forest he remembers his ardent youth. Feeling tired, he admires the natural beauty around him and lies down to sleep. He dreams of the forest animals, and looks around for the Vixen. Stretching out his hand towards her, he finds he has picked up the Frog. But it isn’t the same frog, says the amphibian – that was his grandfather, who used to talk about the Forester. The Forester lets his gun fall.