Opera Santa Barbara will open its 2017-18 season with a sumptuous production of Jules Massenet’s sultry Manon starring celebrated soprano Sarah Coburn at 7:30 pm on Friday, November 3, followed by an encore performance at 2:30 pm on Sunday, November 5. Both performances will take place at the Granada Theatre, 1214 State Street in downtown Santa Barbara. Tickets start at $25, and can be purchased at www.granadasb.org or by calling 805-899-2222.
A scandalous tale of love, lust, and greed set amid the courtly opulence of 18th century France, Manon caused an instant sensation upon its 1884 premiere in Paris. Massenet’s five-act opéra comique relates the moving story of a young woman torn between the yearnings of her heart and the trappings of wealth, and is by turns playful, seductive, and poignant. Opera Santa Barbara’s production will feature the company’s most elaborate costuming to date, on loan from Opera Australia.
“Following up on the success of last year’s production of Carmen, we’re raising the ante by opening the season with the most splendid production in our company’s history,” said Opera Santa Barbara Artistic Director Kostis Protopapas. “Like the great period films of classic Hollywood, Manon has it all: lovers, lusters, villains, gamblers, and rowdy crowds singing, all gloriously attired in eye-popping rococo splendor.”
Making her company debut in the title role, Sarah Coburn has captivated international audiences with her “precision placement, mercury speed, and a gorgeous liquid gold tone” (The Globe and Mail). Following her turn as Gilda in Rigoletto with Los Angeles Opera, Opera News’ Simon Williams marveled at her “striking” appearance and “superlatively agile” voice. Writing in the HuffPost, Donna Perlmutter declared her performance as Asteria in LA Opera’s production of Tamerlano “nothing less than stunning.” Her recent highlights have included the roles of Amina in La sonnambula with the Wiener Staatsoper, Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos with Seattle Opera, and Adina in L’elisir d’amore with Washington National Opera. She has also performed at the Metropolitan Opera opposite Placido Domingo, Florida Grand Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, and New York City Opera, among many others, and has appeared in concert with the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, the Moscow Philharmonic, the Copenhagen Philharmonic, and the National Symphony Orchestra, to name a few. Ms. Coburn has received awards from the George London Foundation, the Richard Tucker Foundation, the Jensen Foundation, and the Liederkranz Foundation, and was a national grand finalist in the 2001 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
Critically acclaimed tenor Harold Meers will sing the role of Le Chevalier des Grieux, Manon’s tragically smitten lover. Since his professional debut with Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Mr. Meers has frequented the principal lyric venues of North America, including appearances with San Francisco Opera, San Diego Opera, Baltimore Opera, New Orleans Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, and Minnesota Opera, among others. He sang the role of the Duke in Opera Santa Barbara’s 2007 production of Rigoletto, and was especially memorable as Don Jose in the company’s 2016 production of Carmen.
Rounding out the cast will be baritone Alex DeSocio as Lescaut, bass-baritone Colin Ramsey as Le Compte des Grieux, and tenor (and UC Santa Barbara faculty member) Benjamin Brecher as Guillot Morfontaine. All three have garnered critical plaudits: The New York Times has lauded Mr. DeSocio’s “buttery, booming baritone,” Opera Today has noted Mr. Ramsey’s “majestic, orotund, ravishing bass,” and Gramophone has praised Mr. Brecher’s “clean lines and clear diction.”
Celebrated stage director Kristine McIntyre will oversee the production. Ms. McIntyre has directed more than 75 operas across the United States, with a focus on new, contemporary, and American works. Opera News described her recent production of Benjamin Britten’s Billy Budd with Des Moines Metro Opera as “an extraordinary theatrical experience,” and her work has come in for similar praise from The New York Times, The Kansas City Star, the Chicago Tribune, and many other publications.
Maestro Protopapas will conduct.
Sung in French with English surtitles, Opera Santa Barbara’s production of Manon is generously supported by the John C. Mithun Foundation and the Elaine F. Stepanek Foundation.
Opera Santa Barbara’s 2017-18 season will continue with a frolicsome staging of Gioachino Rossini’s enduring comic masterwork The Barber of Seville on March 2 and 4. The production will feature tenor Andrew Bidlack as Count Almaviva, mezzo-soprano Cassandra Zoe Velasco as Rosina, and bass-baritone Peter Strummer as Bartolo. Josh Shaw will direct; Maestro Protopapas will conduct.
To place a season subscription order, visit www.operasb.org or call 805-898-3890. Prices start at just $55.
Open to all ticket holders, free informative talks led by Kostis Protopapas will take place 45 minutes before each Opera Santa Barbara performance at the Granada Theatre.
For more information, call 805-898-3890.