Saturday, March 17 , 2018, 5:46 am | Fair 49º


$20,000 NEA Grant to Help Opera Santa Barbara Stage New Production

Opera Santa Barbara will receive a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to help defray costs associated with its new production of Leoš Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen, which the company will present at the Granada Theatre on March 3 and 5.

One of three Santa Barbara-area organizations to obtain NEA support during the current grant-making cycle, Opera Santa Barbara has received agency funding in the past, including grants in support of its 2015 production of A Streetcar Named Desire and its 2012 production of Orpheus and Eurydice.

“This is a tremendous vote of confidence and a welcome validation of our artistic vision in relation to presenting The Cunning Little Vixen to local audiences,” said Steven Sharpe, Opera Santa Barbara's general director. “We are very grateful to the National Endowment for the Arts.”

An independent federal agency, the NEA advances artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities, and will disburse more than $30 million for projects nationwide in its first major grant funding round of fiscal year 2017.

“The arts are for all of us, and by supporting these projects, the National Endowment for the Arts is providing more opportunities for the public to engage with the arts,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Whether in a theater, a town square, a museum, or a hospital, the arts are everywhere and make our lives richer.”

Isabel Bayrakdarian, a superstar soprano and UCSB faculty member, will headline the cast of The Cunning Little Vixen, Janáček’s humorous and tender allegory about the connections between people and animals, and the cyclical nature of life. Bayrakdarian has been hailed as an “electrifying” performer by The New York Times.

Directed by Crystal Manich and designed by Francois-Pierre Couture, the new production will appeal to children and adults, and will be performed in English with English surtitles. Baritone David Kravitz will portray the Forester, and mezzo-soprano Lauren McNeese will make her company debut as the Fox.

The production also will feature the company’s new Youth Opera chorus for singers ages 8 to 18.

Opera Santa Barbara will conclude its 2016-17 season with a production of La Rondine, Puccini’s poignant operetta about a worldly woman who falls in love with a naïve younger man.

Soprano Karin Wolverton will make her company debut as Magda in La Rondine, tenor Adam Diegel will sing the role of Ruggiero, and baritone Zeffin Quinn Hollis will perform as Rambaldo. Tara Faircloth will direct.

Ranging in price from $29 to $204, tickets for Opera Santa Barbara performances can be purchased at or by calling 899-2222. The Granada Theatre is at 1214 State St., Santa Barbara.

Complete artist biographies and additional information are available at

— Tim Dougherty for Opera Santa Barbara.

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