Monday, June 18 , 2018, 6:17 pm | Fair 68º


A Side of Opera With Your Lunch?

Elle Valera Click to view larger
Elle Valera
Chelsea Melamed Click to view larger
Chelsea Melamed

Opera Santa Barbara will present a series of free noontime concerts at Santa Barbara and Ventura county libraries through mid-April.

Featuring the company’s Studio Artists singing a variety of operatic repertoire and musical theater selections, the intimate concerts will begin at noon at the following locations:

Santa Maria Public Library, 421 S. McClelland St., Oct. 9, Feb. 5, March 19; Wilding Museum in Solvang, 1511 Mission Drive, Oct. 11, Jan. 31, March 14; and Santa Barbara Central Library, 40 E. Anapamu St., Oct. 25, Nov. 1, Feb. 21 and 28, and April 11 and 18.

Jonathan Walker-VanKuren Click to view larger
Jonathan Walker-VanKuren
Byron Mayes Click to view larger
Byron Mayes

Performances also will be presented at the Music Academy of the West, 1070 Fairway Road, Santa Barbara, Feb. 8; and at Birnam Wood Golf Club, 1941 East Valley Road, Santa Barbara, Feb. 14.

All performances will begin at noon.

In Ventura County, programs are at Ojai Public Library, 111 E. Ojai Ave., Oct. 5, Feb. 1, March 15; Ventura Public Library, 651 E. Main St., Oct. 6, Feb. 2, March 16; and Thousand Oaks Public Library, 1401 E. Janss Road, Oct. 10 and March 20.

Currently serving as Opera Santa Barbara Studio Artists are soprano Elle Valera, mezzo-soprano Chelsea Melamed, tenor Jonathan Walker-VanKuren, and baritone Byron Mayes.

A recent L.A. District winner and Western Region finalist in Metropolitan Council Auditions, Valera was a 2017 fellowship student at the Aspen Music Festival. She is a former OSB studio artist. She has a master’s degree from UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.

Recognized for her commanding stage presence, Melamed appeared in numerous productions while completing her doctorate in voice performance at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. She was a finalist in the East Bay Opera League Competition.
Walker-VanKuren has a master’s degree from Michigan State University and a bachelor's from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, both in vocal performance. At MSU, he won the 2016-17 Mackey Scholar of Vocal Music Endowment, which is awarded to one exceptional vocal graduate student each school year.

A graduate student at UCSB, Mayes received his bachelor’s degree in vocal performance at Columbus State University. After graduating, he performed with the Houston Grand Opera chorus. He has since been part of Opera Santa Barbara's chorus, performing in recent productions of Carmen and The Cunning Little Vixen.

Additional information is at

— Tim Dougherty for Opera Santa Barbara.


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