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Opera Santa Barbara Hosts ‘Celebration of Love’ Ball

Black-tie event featured a series of operatic aria and duet performances

Opera Santa Barbara Artistic Director, Kostis Protopapas, Chair, Sandy Urquhart, and General Director Steven Sharpe, welcomed guests to the esteemed Opera Ball benefiting Opera Santa Barbara.
Opera Santa Barbara Artistic Director, Kostis Protopapas, Chair, Sandy Urquhart, and General Director Steven Sharpe, welcomed guests to the esteemed Opera Ball benefiting Opera Santa Barbara. (Melissa Walker / Noozhawk photo)

[Click here for a Noozhawk photo gallery of the event]

Cupid’s arrow aimed at the heart of opera enthusiasts during the prestigious Opera Ball, A Celebration of Love, benefiting Opera Santa Barbara, and hosted by the Four Season’s Biltmore.

Romance was in the air as guests in black-tie attire mingled in the Loggia Ballroom for the well-received affair that kicked-off with a lively cocktail reception, followed by a scrumptious three-course dinner, and a series of operatic aria and duet performances throughout the evening.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have our entire cast from Elixir of Love as well as all the members from the Mosher Studio Artist Program who are here for a full 17 weeks, thanks to the Mosher Foundation,” said General Director Steven Sharpe.

“We scattered the artists throughout the ballroom room at every table with the hopes that our guests will have the opportunity to get to know one, or more, of our artists.”

President Sandy Urquhart welcomed guests and thanked everyone in the room for supporting Opera Santa Barbara.

Music provided by DJ Gavin Roy filled the pink and red hued room as ballroom dancers Stephen Scrafford and partner, Derrick Curtis and Trudie Olsen-Curtis, owners of the Santa Barbara Dance Center, glided across the dance floor. It wasn’t long before guests took a cue from the pros and followed suit, dancing the night away.

Later in the evening live auction extraordinaire Andrew Firestone took center stage and rallied the crowd to support Opera of Santa Barbara productions, educational and community based programs.

Brooks Firestone beat out all the eager bidders for a chance to display his acting skills as the deceased “Buoso Donati,” in Gianni Schicchi, scheduled for mid-April.

Artistic director Kostis Protopapas hosted a new game to help support the production company called Stand Up for Opera that raised more than $60,000.

“When I first came to Santa Barbara last May to interview for the position, what I saw was a very young, and very dynamic company surrounded by people who love it,” said Protopapas, who was named artistic director of Opera Santa Barbara in July 2015.

“And, as the new artistic director, I want to carry-on the tradition of excellence and outstanding talent that this company has cultivated over the past twenty years.

“We plan to accomplish so much more and reach a broader audience starting with the Mosher Studio Artist Program, and we going to reach even more schools in Santa Barbara County this year.”

The Mosher Artist Program, formally known as the Studio Artist Program, welcomes four promising young vocalists who will conduct 17 weeks of performances in various community events, through May 2016.

The new program’s inaugural participants include, soprano Rachel Blaustein, tenor Lee Steiner, baritone Tim Petty, and mezzo-soprano Molly Clementz, a voice student and doctoral candidate at UCSB, will be joined by pianist Kyle Naig.

The artists will perform in upcoming Opera Santa Barbara productions and participate in educational outreach activities throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura County.

Participants in the program will tour elementary schools as part of the Opera Lab, artists residence curriculum that consists of teaching improvised theater techniques, encouraging children to create their own opera.

Event Co-Chairs Rodney Baker and Pat Andersons helped organize the event. Click to view larger
Event Co-Chairs Rodney Baker and Pat Andersons helped organize the event. (Melissa Walker / Noozhawk photo)

The artists will also perform six free noontime concerts at the Santa Barbara Public Library and present previews of the upcoming Opera Santa Barbara productions at retirement homes and Rotary clubs.

“We envision program participants serving as ambassadors for our company and opera generally, all the while receiving top-flight training that will further their careers,” said Protopapas.

In an effort to reach a younger generation of opera enthusiasts the artists will perform a “flash mob” at various shopping malls, public libraries and school lunchrooms.

To schedule a “flash mob” performance, contact Opera Santa Barbara at 805.898.3890, or [email protected].

Opera Santa Barbara 2015-16 season resumes with the production of Gaetano Donizetti’s romantic comedy L’elisir d’amore (The Elixir of Love) at the Granada Theatre on Friday, March 4 at 7:30 pm, and Sunday, March 6 at 2:30 pm.

Mosher Studio Artists will perform secondary roles in The Elizir of Love and Puccini’s great one-act operas Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi, on April 22 and 24.

Available to all ticket holders, free informative talks will take place 45 minutes before each Opera Santa Barbara performance at the Granada Theatre.

Mosher Studio Artist Program performers Molly Clementz and Rachel Blaustein (back facing camera) during a duet at the Celebration of Love Opera Ball. Click to view larger
Mosher Studio Artist Program performers Molly Clementz and Rachel Blaustein (back facing camera) during a duet at the Celebration of Love Opera Ball.  (Melissa Walker / Noozhawk photo)

Following select performances, the stage director and other production members will be available at the front of the house for an informal Q&A session.

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.

Tickets range in price from $29 to $204, tickets can be purchased online, or by calling 805-899-2222.

“This event celebrates our generous donors, without whom we could not exist! We are looking forward to our next twenty years! As Kostis mentioned, of all the performing arts, opera is the most expensive to produce,” said Event Committee Chair Pat Anderson. “We thank all of our donors from our hearts.”

Opera of Santa Barbara would like to thank the following supporters who made the the Opera Ball a success.

Event Committee: Deborah Bertling, Joan Rutkowski, Jean Rogers, Joni Papay, Joann Younger, Judy Smith, Nanette Giordano, Sandy Urquhart.

Members of the Board of Directors present: Sandy and Bob Urquhart, A.C. Moore, emeritus Director Sarah Chrisman with Roger, emeritus Director Peter Bertling with Deborah, Eric Oltmann with Susan Van Abel, Herb Kendall with Elaine, Rodney Baker, Nancy Golden with Fred, Aaron (Beno) Budgor with Kandi Luria-Budgor, Joan Rutkowski with Geoffrey, Cindy Brittain with Kirk Evans, Jean Rogers with Milo Fanucci, Judy Smith, Pat Andersons, Joann Younger, Jon DuPrau, emeritus Director Duncan Mellichamp with Suzanne, Dan Reicker with Romy, emeritus Director Sue Birch with Ed.

Generous Donors to this event: Sarah and Roger Chrisman, Keith and Kay Schofield, Joann Younger, Edwin and Maya Smidt, John Davies, Fred and Nancy Golden.

Click here for more information about Opera Santa Barbara. Click here to make an online donation.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

Attendees at the ball included artist sponsors, Geoffrey and Joan Rutkowski, Gaja Kabarett, with Board members Jane and Bill Ramsay. Click to view larger
Attendees at the ball included artist sponsors, Geoffrey and Joan Rutkowski, Gaja Kabarett, with Board members Jane and Bill Ramsay. (Melissa Walker / Noozhawk photo)

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