Guest Artist Master Class: Kostis Protopapas

Event Date: 

Friday, January 22, 2016 - 10:00am

Event Location: 

  • Karl Geiringer Hall (UCSB)

Event Price: 

Admission is free.

KOSTIS PROTOPAPAS, Opera Santa Barbara’s Artistic Director, will lead an open masterclass featuring Opera Santa Barbara’s 2016 Mosher Studio Artists. The 2016 Mosher Studio Artists include soprano RACHEL BLAUSTEIN, mezzo-soprano MOLLY CLEMENTZ, tenor LEE STEINER, and baritone TIM PETTY. They will be joined by pianist KYLE NAIG. Admission is free.

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 some 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

Opera Santa Barbara's Artistic Director, Kostis Protopapas

Kostis Protopapas was appointed Artistic Director of Opera Santa Barbara in July, 2015. He has been Artistic Director of Tulsa Opera since May of 2008. He previously served as the company's Associate Conductor and Chorusmaster. He has conducted twenty-two productions with the company since his 2005 mainstage debut with Cavalleria Rusticana/I Pagliacci . 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."

Between 2002 and 2008, concurrently with his tenure at Tulsa Opera, Kostis also served Assistant Conductor for the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Los Angeles Opera and Santa Fe Opera. During the 2002 and 2003 seasons he was the Assistant Chorusmaster at Lyric Opera of Chicago under Donald Palumbo. 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; is a regular guest conductor at Union Avenue Opera in St. Louis from 2007 until 2010 and has been a guest conductor for the Des Moines Metro Opera, Opera Columbus, Shreveport Opera and the Westmoreland Symphony.

Kostis' leadership at Tulsa Opera has focused on furthering the company's long-standing reputation for artistic excellence; expanding the company's commitment to contemporary and American opera; developing the Tulsa Studio Artists Program into a training program of national recognition; strengthening the Tulsa Opera Orchestra and Tulsa Opera Chorus; expanding the company's role as a leading arts organization throughout the state of Oklahoma; developing substantial outreach and educational programming; and advocating for arts awareness and appreciation in Tulsa.

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 lives in Tulsa and Chicago, with his wife, soprano and stage director Cathleen Dunn-Protopapas, and their four cats, Gus, Miles, Zsa-Zsa and Gigi.

About the Mosher Studio Artist Program

These four standout singers and an apprentice vocal coach will take part in Opera Santa Barbara productions, community events throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, and coachings and masterclasses with top industry directors and conductors over a 17-week period beginning January 18.

Under its original artist residency program, founded eight years ago, Opera Santa Barbara hosted four singers for about five weeks of training and rehearsals prior to each of the company’s three annual opera productions, culminating in on-stage appearances as secondary performers. The effort was originally known as the Young Artists Program and was later renamed the Studio Artist Program. The Mosher Foundation, which supports educational, healthcare, and performing arts institutions in the Santa Barbara area, funded an expansion of the program in 2014.

Under the new Mosher Studio Artist Program, participants will tour elementary schools in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties as part of the company’s Opera Lab, which uses improvisational theatre techniques to encourage children to “create their own operas.” In addition, they will perform six free noontime concerts at the Santa Barbara Public Library; present previews of Opera Santa Barbara productions to community groups such as retirement homes and Rotary clubs; and take part in a new series of “pop up” or “flash mob” performances from Thousand Oaks to Santa Maria. The latter will be presented at shopping malls, public libraries, farmers markets, school lunchrooms, and similar locations.

Mosher Studio Artists also will perform secondary roles in Opera Santa Barbara’s upcoming productions of Gaetano Donizetti’s romantic comedy L’elisir d’amore (The Elixir of Love) on March 4 and 6, and Puccini’s great one-act operas Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi on April 22 and 24. Featuring popular and lesser-known operatic repertoire with piano accompaniment, the free noontime concerts will be offered at the Santa Barbara Public Library’s Faulkner Gallery on February 17 and 24 and March 2 (in advance of L’elisir d’amore), and April 6, 13, and 20 (Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi). Additional concerts will likely be scheduled at other regional public libraries.

Through a related partnership, qualified UC Santa Barbara voice students will be eligible to participate in the Mosher Studio Artist Program.

About the 2016 Mosher Studio Artists

A native of Olney, Maryland, soprano Rachel Blaustein recently earned a master’s degree at Johns Hopkins University’s Peabody Institute. Last summer she made her mainstage debut as Barena in Janá?ek’s Jen?fa with Des Moines Metro Opera. She will return to Des Moines this year to cover Eurydice in Orphée et Eurydice. As a studio artist with Chautauqua Opera in 2013 Ms. Blaustein covered the role of Nannetta in Falstaff. While attending Peabody, she appeared as Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail at the Baltimore Lyric Opera House and was seen as the Sandman/Dew Fairy in an outreach production of Hansel and Gretel. Ms. Blaustein made her Kennedy Center debut in 2015 and received an Encouragement Award from the 2014 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. She holds a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from Hofstra University.

Born in Charles, Illinois, mezzo-soprano Molly Clementz is a doctoral candidate at UC Santa Barbara, where she studies with Linda Di Fiore. Last year she performed in Opera Santa Barbara’s production of Don Giovanni and in the Amalfi Coast Festival’s summer production of Die Zauberflöte. She made her Opera Santa Barbara debut in 2014 as Page in Rigoletto. Ms. Clementz performed the lead role of Viola in the West Coast premiere of Joel Feigin’s Twelfth Night last year. While studying abroad in Austria, she was a finalist in the American Institute of Musical Studies’ Meistersinger Competition in Graz. In 2013 she performed the title role in Cendrillon at the University of North Texas. Ms. Clementz received undergraduate degrees in music and English from Luther College, where she performed as Cupid in Orpheus in the Underworld.

A native of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, tenor Lee Steiner most recently made his Des Moines Metro Opera debut as Harry in La fanciulla del West. Earlier in 2015 he appeared in nearly 90 performances with OPERA Iowa as Ramiro in La Cenerentola and Ernesto in Davies’ The Billy Goats Gruff, followed by a turn as Tamino in Salt Marsh Opera’s production of The Magic Flute. Mr. Steiner has also performed with Opera North in Lebanon, New Hampshire, appearing as Sam in Weill’s Street Scene and Giuseppe in La Traviata. While earning a master’s degree at the University of Illinois, he appeared with the Illinois Opera Theater as Tamino, Arcadio in Catán's Florencia en el Amazonas, Orpheus in Orpheus in the Underworld, Macheath in The Threepenny Opera, and Pane in Cavalli’s La Calisto.

Baritone Tim Petty recently completed tenures at Opera Saratoga and Tulsa Opera, where he was seen as Slim in Of Mice and Men, Mercutio in Roméo et Juliette, and Frank Lloyd Wright in Daron Hagen’s Shining Brow. He also covered the role of Jeff for the world premiere of Jeremy Howard Beck and Stephanie Fleischmann’s new work, The Long Walk. His previous roles include Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus, Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, the Revival Singer in Elmer Gantry, Sergeant Morales and Le Dancaïre in Carmen, the Husband in The Breasts of Tiresias, Harlequin in Ariadne auf Naxos, Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby, and Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm in A Little Night Music.

Pianist Kyle Naig hails from Des Moines, Iowa. He recently worked on productions of Catán’s La hija de Rappaccini and Heggie’s Three Decembers at Des Moines Metro Opera, a production of Don Pasquale at Opera Bozeman, and a production of Le nozze di Figaro at the University of Kansas. He is active in opera and theatre in Kansas City, recently assisting at Lyric Opera of Kansas City as well as the University of Kansas (where he studied with Steven Spooner and Jack Winerock). Next summer he will return to Des Moines Metro Opera for productions of Manon and Glass’ Galileo Galilei. He also performs solo piano repertoire and chamber music.

(Information courtesy of Opera Santa Barbara)

Kostis Protopapas (courtesy photo)