Artistic Director

Kostis Protopapas – Artistic Director


Kostis Protopapas has been Artistic Director of Tulsa Opera since May of 2008. He previously served as the company’s Associate Conductor and Chorusmaster. He has conducted twenty productions with the company since his 2005 mainstage debut with Cavalleria Rusticana/I Pagliacci . About his 2011 Barber of Seville performances, Alex Ross of The New Yorker wrote “Most impressive was the fluid idiomatic playing of the orchestra… In any city, it’s rare to find a conductor that sets the right tempo so consistently.”

Between 2002 and 2008, concurrently with his tenure at Tulsa Opera, Kostis also served as Assistant Conductor for
the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Los Angeles Opera and Santa Fe Opera. During the 2002 and 2003 seasons he was the Assistant Chorusmaster at Lyric Opera of Chicago under Donald Palumbo. Kostis started his career on the music staff of Virginia Opera and Opera Memphis; he conducted at Opera in the Ozarks every summer from 2000 to 2004; was a regular guest conductor at Union Avenue Opera in St. Louis from 2007 until 2010 and has been a guest conductor for the Des Moines Metro Opera, Opera Columbus, Shreveport Opera and the Westmoreland Symphony.  Future appearances include Elmer Gantry with Tulsa Opera, the world premiere of The Poe Project with Fargo-Morehead Opera and A Streetcar Named Desire at Union Avenue Opera.

Kostis’ leadership at Tulsa Opera has focused on furthering the company’s long-standing reputation for artistic excellence; expanding the company’s commitment to contemporary and American opera; developing the Tulsa Studio Artists Program into a training program of national recognition; strengthening the Tulsa Opera Orchestra and Tulsa Opera Chorus; expanding the company’s role as a leading arts organization throughout the state of Oklahoma; developing substantial outreach and educational programming; and advocating for arts awareness and appreciation in Tulsa.

Born in Athens, Greece, Kostis Protopapas studied Archaeology and History of Art at the University of Athens before coming to the United States in 1993, on an Onassis Foundation scholarship, to study piano at The Boston Conservatory and conducting at Boston University. He became an American citizen in 2011 and lives in Tulsa and Chicago, with his wife, soprano and stage director Cathleen Dunn-Protopapas, and their four cats, Gus, Miles, Zsa-Zsa and Gigi.