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Opera Santa Barbara to Open Season with Bizet’s Timeless ‘Carmen’ at Granada

Opera Santa Barbara will open its 2016-17 season with an electrifying production of Carmen, Georges Bizet’s enduring tale of love and jealousy set amid the vibrant, unruly streets of 19th Century Seville.

Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6 at the Granada Theatre, 1214 State St. Ranging in price from $29 to $204, tickets can be purchased at www.granadasb.org or by calling 899-2222.
 
Bizet’s drama about a strong-willed gypsy seductress, a charismatic bullfighter, and a hapless soldier scandalized Paris upon its premiere in 1875, but has since become one of the world’s most frequently staged operas, beloved for its irresistible melodies and captivating dances.
 
Directed by Octavio Cardenas, Opera Santa Barbara’s production will feature three of the region’s most celebrated Flamenco dancers, Wendy Castellanos-Wolf, Pamela Lourant and Marcela Aguayo, and will mark the inaugural appearance of the company’s new Youth Opera chorus for singers ages 8 to 18.      
 
The production also will mark the company conducting debut of Kostis Protopapas, who was named OSB artistic director in July 2015.
 
“I’m very much looking forward to my conducting debut with Opera Santa Barbara, working with an absolutely fantastic cast and the Opera Santa Barbara Orchestra and Chorus on one of the world’s most treasured operas. This is our biggest production in several years, true to the spirit of grand opera,” he said.
 
Mezzo-soprano Leann Sandel-Pantaleo will make her company debut in the title role. Lauded by the Portland Press Herald for her “glorious voice,” she has sung Carmen with both Opera Omaha and Tulsa Opera, and last season performed as Amneris in Aida with Sarasota Opera.

Ms. Sandel-Pantaleo also has sung Siegrune at the Berlin State Opera, Teatro alla Scala in Milan, and the BBC Proms in London. Critically acclaimed tenor Harold Meers will sing the role of Don Jose, the soldier whose consuming obsession turns deadly.

Since his professional debut with Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Mr. Meers has frequented the principal lyric venues of North America, including appearances with San Francisco Opera, San Diego Opera, Baltimore Opera, New Orleans Opera, Boston Lyric Opera and Minnesota Opera.

He sang the role of the Duke in Opera Santa Barbara’s 2007 production of Rigoletto.
 
Rounding out the cast is baritone Keith Phares as the flamboyant bullfighter Escamillo and Trinidadian soprano Jeanine De Bique as Micaela. Opera News has hailed Mr. Phares’ Grammy Award-winning recording of Elmer Gantry with Florentine Opera as “a strong contender for iconographic recognition.”

An alumnus of the Music Academy of the West, he also has performed with Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Seattle Opera, Houston Grand Opera. De Bique boasts many international awards and credits, and will be among the featured soloists for the Santa Barbara Symphony’s season-opening performances of Beethoven’s stirring Symphony No. 9 on Oct. 16.
 
Complete artist biographies are available at www.operasb.org.  
 
Sung in French with English surtitles, Opera Santa Barbara’s production of Carmen is supported by Roger and Sarah Chrisman, the Elaine F. Stepanek Foundation, and the Mithun Family Foundation.
 
Opera Santa Barbara’s 2016-17 season will continue with Leoš Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen, featuring superstar soprano and UCSB faculty member Isabel Bayrakdarian, on March 3 and 5, and Puccini’s poignant operetta La Rondine on April 28 and 30.    
 
To place a season subscription order, visit www.operasb.org or call 898-3890. Subscribers can buy season tickets for their children ages 17 and under for $42. These discounted tickets allow for seating with parents in all sections of the Granada except the loge and boxes.   
 
Opera Santa Barbara also will offer a series of 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 will take place at libraries in Ojai, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Solvang, Thousand Oaks and Ventura. 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.
 
For more information, visit www.operasb.org or call 898-3890.

— Tim Dougherty for Opera Santa Barbara.

 

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