Opera Santa Barbara Hosts Donor Reception Honoring the Chrismans

Event Replaces the Cancelled Opera Ball

Back row: Studio Artist Byron Mayes, Honoree Roger Chrisman, Studio Artist Jonathan Walker-VanKuren; Front row: Honoree Sarah Chrisman and Studio Artist Chelsea Melamed.

Gail Arnold

Back row: Studio Artist Byron Mayes, Honoree Roger Chrisman, Studio Artist Jonathan Walker-VanKuren; Front row: Honoree Sarah Chrisman and Studio Artist Chelsea Melamed.

On March 2, Opera Santa Barbara (OSB) held a donor reception prior to the opening night’s performance of The Barber of Seville, where major donors Roger and Sarah Chrisman were honored.

OSB’s annual Opera Ball, where the Chrisman’s were to be honored, was cancelled because the 1/9 Debris Flow closed the Biltmore, where it was to be held, and OSB decided this wasn’t the time for a formal affair. However, since OSB relies on the ball for a significant portion of its revenue, it asked people who attended last year’s gala to contribute without the fanfare of a ball. The plan worked, between this appeal and contributions from board members, $60,000 was raised. Donors who contributed were invited to this lovely soiree in the elegant Founders Room at the Granada Theatre.

After the 75 or so guests mingled over tapas and wine, Board Chair Nancy Golden and General and Artistic Director Kostis Protopapas welcomed the donors and thanked them for stepping forward for the “non-ball.” Golden praised Roger and Sarah Chrisman for having done so much for OSB over the years and thanked them especially for sponsoring the Studio Artist Program for the next five years. She then presented the Chrismans with a large, framed photo of them performing in last year’s production of Carmen and the Chrismans were overjoyed.

Guests then enjoyed opening night of Gioachino Rossini’s comic masterpiece, The Barber of Seville. With Protopapas as both artistic director and conductor and a brilliant team of opera stars, including Alexander Elliott as Figaro, the performance was a delight from start to finish.

Each year, the Studio Artist Program provides valuable training and performance opportunities to four up-and-coming opera singers. The singers train with top industry professionals and do mainstage performances as well as community outreach and education. Alumni have gone on to perform roles with companies around the world.

Fundraising is integral for OSB, not only to stage its productions (ticket sales cover only 37 to 45 percent of production costs), but also for its significant community education and outreach activities. While the "non-ball" raised an impressive $65,000, it fell short of the $105,000 raised at last year's ball.

Santa Barbara Youth Opera (SBYO), in its second year, provides tuition-free instruction, performance opportunities, and exposure to a professional opera company to area youth ages 8 to 15. In January, SBYO performed Benjamin Britten’s Noye’s Fludde in a co-production with the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony. The First Methodist Church was packed for this benefit concert, which raised funds for the Santa Barbara Humane Society (another production was cancelled because of the Thomas Fire).

In addition to SBYO, Opera Santa Barbara exposes elementary school students in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties to opera through the very popular Opera Lab, an innovative, interactive workshop run by the Studio Artists.

OSB also offers free noontime concerts featuring members of its Studio Artist Program at public libraries throughout Santa Barbara County and in Ventura County. There will be a concert at the Santa Barbara Central Library on April 4 and April 11.

OSB’s final performances of the season are Trouble in Tahiti and Gallantry on April 20 and 21 at the Center Stage Theater. For more info about Opera Santa Barbara, go to operasb.org.

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