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About Cynthia Stokes

American stage and opera director Cynthia Stokes has devoted her professional career to creating provocative and thrilling productions across America. Her staging has been described as. “…a joy to behold and hear…”, by the Winston Salem Chronicle; as having “existential depths and evoking mythical resonance, “ by the Philadelphia Inquirer; and,” funny and moving…The depiction of love and infidelity amid a troupe of traveling players was nimbly done, as was the fatal confluence of illusion and reality...” by the San Francisco Chronicle.


Ms. Stokes is the Artistic Director of San Diego CITY Opera (www.sdcityopera.org), San Diego’s newest opera company dedicated to encourage San Diegans to see their community in new positive ways by presenting opera in site-specific locations throughout the city. CITY Opera’s first production, Queen of Carthage, a contemporary retelling of Dido and Aeneas was part of La Jolla Playhouse’s Without Walls Festival in October 2015. This spring she staged Dominic Argento’s song cycle The Andrée Expedition with three singers in an abandoned factory.


Upcoming productions include: Silent Night for Piedmont Opera, Rigoletto for Opera Las Vegas, Cenerentola and La hija de Rappaccini for Alamo City Opera; an untitled improvisational opera for Rhymes with Opera, and The Andrée Expedition with Vermont Opera Project.


Directing highlights include: South Pacific, Madama Butterfly and The Crucible for Piedmont Opera; Handel’s Acis and Galatea, Ricky Ian Gordon’s Orpheus & Euridice, Robert Xavier Rodriguez La Curandera for San Antonio’s Alamo City Opera; The Italian Straw Hat for Amarillo Opera; Le nozze di Figaro for San Antonio Opera; Pagliacci for Opera San Jose. While at Glimmerglass Opera, she directed Le nozze di Figaro (cover cast) and staged members of The Young American Artists Program in Killer B’s, a cabaret-style celebration of American composers whose last names begin with the letter ‘B’; Roméo et Juliette for San Diego Opera; Madama Butterfly for Opera Company of Philadelphia; Homies and Popz (tour) for Los Angeles Opera; Margaret Garner for Cincinnati Opera and Opera Carolina.


Ms. Stokes has collaborated with some of America’s most exciting composers and librettists including: Richard Danielpour and Toni Morrison on Margaret Garner for Cincinnati Opera and Opera Carolina, For Los Angeles Opera she co-wrote and directed Murder at the Opera with composer Edward Barnes. Schirmer Music publishes the opera. Ms. Stokes background of collaborating with writers, composers and visual artists led to Music and Art of Fin-De-Siècle Vienna for the Los Angeles Philharmonic.


An accomplished theatre director her work has been seen at American Conservatory Theatre, The Old Globe, The Piccolo Spoleto Festival, Wellfleet Harbor Actor’s Theatre, Diversionary Theatre and North Coast Rep.


Deeply committed to encouraging the next generation of theatre and music artists and audiences, Ms. Stokes started La Jolla Playhouse’s Summer Conservatory and San Diego Opera’s Summer Opera Institute. Her grants and awards include: Opera America, The New York Foundation for the Arts, The Lotta Crabtree Foundation, and New Music Theatre Ensemble. She holds an M.FA. in Directing from the University of California at San Diego.