UCSB faculty members and graduate student featured in Opera SB's "The Cunning Little Vixen"

From left: Dr. Isabel Bayrakdarian, Professor Ben Brecher, and graduate student Molly Clementz at Opera Santa Barbara's Opera Ball Gala (February 17, 2017).
UCSB Assistant Professor of Voice, Dr. Isabel Bayrakdarian, is set to star in Opera Santa Barbara's production of Leoš Janáček's "The Cunning Little Vixen" on March 3rd and 5th at the Granada Theatre. UCSB Associate Professor of Voice, Benjamin Brecher, will join Dr. Bayrakdarian as the Schoolmaster/Mosquito, and graduate student Molly Clementz (a student of Dr. Linda Di Fiore and a 2016-2017 Mosher Studio Artist) will play Lapak the Dog and the Woodpecker. Additionally, UCSB faculty member Jon Nathan will perform as part of the Opera SB orchestra. He is a charter member of the company/orchestra and a member of the orchestra committee. For more details, please see the Opera Santa Barbara press release below, and Dr. Bayrakdarian's interview with VOICE Magazine (read here on page 2).
February 9, 2017
Tim Dougherty
Soprano Standout Bayrakdarian Heads Cast in Opera Santa Barbara’s ‘Cunning Little Vixen’ 
Performances will be presented March 3 and 5 at Santa Barbara’s Granada Theatre. Ticket sales are underway. 
Santa Barbara, CA — Superstar soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian will headline Opera Santa Barbara’s ambitious new production of Czech composer Leoš Janáček’s heartwarming and imaginative "The Cunning Little Vixen" at the Granada Theatre on March 3 and 5. Performances will take place at 7:30 pm on Friday, March 3, and at 2:30 pm on Sunday, March 5. Ranging in price from $29 to $204, tickets can be purchased at www.granadasb.org or by calling 805-899-2222.
Though often identified with 20th century musical nationalism, Janáček frequently invoked rural life in his native Moravia in his many operas. His inspiration for "The Cunning Little Vixen," composed between 1921 and 1923, was an illustrated newspaper series about a wily fox cub who escapes capture and returns to the woods to raise a family.  Filled with an array of fanciful animal characters, Janáček’s opera is a humorous and tender allegory about nature, humanity, and the cycle of life. Opera Santa Barbara’s production will feature children of the Santa Barbara Youth Opera performing as fox cubs and other wild creatures.
“Janáček’s post-romantic score is characterized by lush orchestral colors. It sounds a lot like Richard Strauss and Debussy, but also incorporates folk song, which is a hallmark of Janáček’s style,” said Opera Santa Barbara Artistic Director Kostis Protopapas, who will conduct. “This is a great production for the whole family, with an enchanted forest setting and costuming that blurs the lines between human and animals. We are extremely fortunate to have Isabel Bayrakdarian, who has sung this role with the New York Philharmonic and recorded it on DVD.”
Directed by Crystal Manich and designed by Francois-Pierre Couture, the new production will appeal to both children and adults, and will be performed in English with English surtitles. 
Ms. Bayrakdarian’s career was launched in 1997, when she was named a winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions – the same year she graduated from the University of Toronto cum laude with a biomedical engineering degree. In 1999 she appeared in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s world premiere production of William Bolcom’s "A View from the Bridge," and the following year won first prize in Plácido Domingo’s prestigious Operalia competition. Subsequent engagements have included San Francisco Opera, the Metropolitan Opera, and many others throughout North America and Europe. As a concertizer, she has appeared with the premier orchestras of New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Paris, London, Vienna, and Montreal. Ms. Bayrakdarian’s extensive recording catalog includes a turn as featured vocalist on the Grammy-award winning soundtrack of the blockbuster film "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers," and her numerous honors include four consecutive Juno Awards (Canada’s Grammy equivalent) for Best Classical Album. Now a faculty member at UC Santa Barbara, she has been hailed as an “electrifying” performer by "The New York Times." She will perform as Vixen Sharp Ears in Opera Santa Barbara’s production of "The Cunning Little Vixen."
Acclaimed baritone David Kravitz will portray the Forester. Praised by publications including "The New York Times" and "Opera News," he has appeared with Washington National Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, among many others. 
Rounding out the cast are mezzo-soprano Lauren McNeese, making her company debut as Fox Goldenstripe, tenor and UC Santa Barbara faculty member Benjamin Brecher as the Schoolmaster, and bass-baritone E. Scott Levin as the Priest. 
Complete artist biographies are available at www.operasb.org.
Opera Santa Barbara’s production of "The Cunning Little Vixen" is generously supported by the Elaine F. Stepanek Foundation, the Mithun Family Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Towbes Foundation.
The Granada Theatre is located at 1214 State Street in downtown Santa Barbara.
Family Discounts
Adults accompanied by children ages 12 and under will receive a 10 percent discount on tickets; their children will be admitted for just $14. Participants in the “Family Opera Adventure” program will receive a special “Introduction to Opera” package, including fun facts about foxes and insight about the production. For additional information, visit www.operasb.org or call 805-898-3890.
Related Programming
Opera Santa Barbara has begun presenting free noontime concerts at public libraries throughout the region. Featuring participants in the company’s Mosher Studio Artist Program performing arias and duets with piano accompaniment, the concerts take place at libraries throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. A performance schedule is available online at www.operasb.org/freeconcerts.php
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.
Opera Santa Barbara’s 2016-17 season will continue with Puccini’s elegant and poignant operetta La Rondine on April 28 and 30.      
For more information, visit www.operasb.org or call 805-898-3890. 
About Opera Santa Barbara
Founded in 1994 by Marilyn Gilbert and Nathan Rundlett, Opera Santa Barbara is committed to presenting productions and educational programs of the highest quality. Over more than two decades the company has staged more than 50 operas and devoted thousands of hours to community outreach. The organization remains dedicated to the core passions that animated its founding: celebrating and championing the breadth and beauty of opera, and contributing to the cultural enrichment of the Santa Barbara community. Additional information is available at www.operasb.org