The Cunning Little Vixen

Leos Janacek



“The enchanted forest of Leoš Janácek’s opera The Cunning Little Vixen proved irresistible in this witty and dynamic production from Opera Santa Barbara. The expressive and engaging soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian led the chase as Vixen Sharp-Ears. Every detail of this charming and inventive production provided some new gem of characterization, from the touchingly wistful romantic nostalgia of Scott Levin as the Parson to the folk-tinged hunting calls of the poacher Harasta (Evan Bravos). Through Janácek’s wry and knowing creator’s perspective, the work’s disparate voices come together to make a single convincing whole. Congratulations to Opera Santa Barbara for realizing this compelling and evocative masterpiece.”  Charles Donelan, Santa Barbara Independent



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. 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.

Stage Director:

Crystal Manich

Crystal Manich is an international director whose work has been seen across the United States, Argentina, and Australia. From opera to musicals, plays, and short films, she creates a diverse body of work year after year. Hailed by the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other major publications for “lively” and “imaginative staging,” she has directed over 60 productions. Directing credits include: Buenos Aires Lírica in Argentina, Pinchgut in Sydney (Australia), Pittsburgh, The Kennedy Center, Santa Fe, Wolf Trap, Boston Lyric, Utah, Tulsa, American Opera Projects, Utah, Omaha, Arizona, Santa Barbara, Columbus, North Carolina, Delaware, Roanoke, and Baltimore. Former Artistic Director of Mill City Summer Opera and Founding Co-Artistic Director for Opera Omnia in New York. She was assistant artistic director on Cirque du Soleil’s Quidam in Brazil.

Crystal’s short bilingual film script, Desconocer, was an Official Selection and finalist of the 2019 Oaxaca FilmFest Global Script Challenge. She won the Audience Award at the 2018 Great Lakes International Shorts Festival for her short film L’Ivresse, which she wrote and directed.

She is currently a part of the ongoing development of a new adaptation of the Puerto Rican play La Carreta/The Oxcart in collaboration with playwright Caridad Svich, in addition to other literary development projects.

Having grown up bilingual, she recently stated the following in an interview about her new production of the Spanish language opera Il Postino: “It's become a real desire of mine to make the Spanish language part of what we're offering in the cultural sector.”

In Fall 2019, she directed the world premiere stage adaptation of Julia Alvarez’s Return to Sender by Marisela Orta for the Nashville Children’s Theatre about Mexican immigration and its complexities. It has been nominated for several Broadway World regional awards. She also directed the opera adaptation of the Spanish language opera Il Postino for Virginia Opera in a new production that will appear at several companies in the United States.

In January 2020 Crystal directed the musical Bernarda Alba, based on the Spanish play by Federico García Lorca, by Michael John LaChiusa for the Minneapolis company Theater Latté Da in a new production. Her spring season also includes a new Spanish adaptation of Cimarosa’s opera Il Matrimonio Segreto set in 1980’s Little Havana in Miami, as well as André Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire in Virginia.

Stage Director /
The Cunning Little Vixen

March 2017 (debut)


Wendy Castellanos-Wolf


Choreographer /
The Cunning Little Vixen

March 2017


Choreographer / Carmen

November 2016 (debut)

Scenic & Lighting Designer:

François-Pierre Couture

Originally from Montréal, Canada, François-Pierre Couture has been working in the United States since 2006 and he is please to be making Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park debut. His multifaceted and dynamic approach to his craft has given him the opportunity to work across multiple environments and venues. He is also proud to be full time professor at East Los Angeles College, one of the most dynamic and upcoming theatre department in Los Angeles.

François-Pierre Couture has had the privilege of working in Los Angeles and the United States for the last decade as a scenic, lighting and projection designer. He has received multiple Ovation, LADCC, LA Weekly awards & nominations. Designs include: “Invisible Tango”, “A Picasso”, Geffen Playhouse; “Everything that Never Happened”, “With Love and Major Organ”, Boston Court Theatre; “Frankenstein”, A Noise Within;  “Destiny of Desire”, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Arena Stage Theatre, South Coast Repertory & Goodman Theatre; “Jackie Unveiled”, Wallis Theatre; “The Mexican Trilogy, an American History”, Los Angeles Theatre Center; “Metamorphoses” , “Everything is Illuminated”, Ensemble Theatre Company; Médée and Teseo, Chicago Opera Theatre; Carmen and Cold Mountain, Music Academy of the West.

Instagram @fpcouturedesign

Scenic & Lighting Design /
The Cunning Little Vixen

March 2017


Scenic & Lighting Design /
L'italiana in Algeri

March 2015


Lighting Design / The Consul

April 2014 (debut)

Costume Designer:

Constance Hoffmann


Costume Designer /
The Cunning Little Vixen

March 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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Vixen Sharp Ears:

Isabel Bayrakdarian


Vixen Sharp Ears /
The Cunning Little Vixen

March 2017 (debut)

The Forester:

David Kravitz

The Forester /
The Cunning Little Vixen

March 2017 (debut)

Fox Goldenstripe:

Lauren McNeese


Fox Goldenstripe /
The Cunning Little Vixen

March 2017 (debut)


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.


E. Scott Levin

Bass-Baritone, E. Scott Levin is a gifted comic actor praised for his “smooth, buttery voice.” He has been making audiences laugh for the past fifteen years with his “incredibly sharp timing” in roles including Bartolo in The Marriage of Figaro, Schaunard in La bohème, and Falke in Die Fledermaus. Scott made his debut Opera Santa Barbara debut as Simone in Gianni Schicchi (2016) and returned as The Priest/Badger in The Cunning Little Vixen (2017). 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. 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. 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.


Evan Bravos


Harasta /
The Cunning Little Vixen

March 2017


Dancairo / Carmen

November 2016 (debut)


Mosher Studio Artist


Forester's Wife/Owl:

Nandani Maria Sinha

Mezzo-soprano Nandani Maria Sinha is an acclaimed performer of German and Indian descent. Born in the United States, Nandani began her formal training in in Germany before returning to the US, where she earned degrees from Cornell University and California State University at Los Angeles. Nandani began the 2017 - 18 season with the Los Angeles Opera Chorus in Beth Morrison Project's production of The Hubble Cantata by Paola Prestini. For Music at Westwood this season, she serves as the Alto Soloist in the Bach Magnificat, Handel's Messiah, and Dvorak's Mass in D. She also sang the Old Lady in Candide for LA Opera's series for educators and was a featured ensemble member for their production of Jack Perla’s Jonah and the Whale. She finishes the season with concert performances of Dvorak’s Stabat Mater with Palisades Symphony Orchestra and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and Bernstein selections with the California Philharmonic. She will also be seen as the Wardrobe in 5 Star Theatricals’ production of Beauty and the Beast, which also stars members of the original Broadway cast. Nandani made her debut with Opera Santa Barbara as La maestra della novizie in Suor Angelica, and returned for recent productions of The Cunning Little Vixen and La Rondine. Other recent highlights include the title role in La Cenerentola (Repertory Opera Company), Amneris in Aida (Marina Del Rey Symphony), The Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors (Malibu Coast Chamber Opera), Mrs. Ott in Susannah (Opera Pasadena), and Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus with Repertory Opera Company. Ms. Sinha has also been a frequent soloist at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra, and a recitalist in London, France, Austria and Germany. Additionally, she has presented recitals throughout South Africa for the No.1 Ladies’ Opera Festival. A great proponent of new music, Nandani has sung in the world premieres of multiple compositions by Annenberg Foundation Composition Fellow Maria Newman. Recently, she premiered the role of Lily and Our Lady in the musical Golden with music written by Grammy Award Winner Nathan Wang for the Paderewski Cycle Competition. Ms. Sinha was the first-prize winner in the 2012 Franz Liszt International Competition, and in 2014 she earned two additional International Prizes from the same organization, including a special award for “Best Vocal Interpretation of a Work by Franz Liszt.” Nandani was a winner of the Hollywood Opera Reading Club Vocal Scholarship Competition and has been a recipient of scholarships from the Opera Buffs and Celestial Opera. In 2013 and 2014, she was a Marc and Eva Stern Fellow at Songfest, where she worked closely with William Bolcom, John Musto, Jake Heggie, Libby Larsen, Susanne Mentzer, Margo Garrett, and Martin Katz.


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

Chief Hen/Bluejay:

Elizabeth Kelsay


Lisette / La rondine

April 2017


Rooster, Bluejay /
The Cunning
Little Vixen

March 2017


Frasquita / Carmen

November 2016 (debut)



Mosher Studio Artist



Adrien Roberts


Suzy / La rondine

April 2017


Rooster / The Cunning Little Vixen

March 2017 (debut)

The Cunning Little Vixen, March 2017. David Bazemore Photo