Grad student to perform in Santa Barbara production of 'The Cunning Little Vixen'

by GradPost Staff
Wednesday, March 01, 2017 2:54 PM

UCSB graduate student and mezzo-soprano Molly Clementz will play several key roles in Opera Santa Barbara's production of The Cunning Little Vixen this Friday, March 3, and Sunday, March 5, at the Granada Theatre.

Since she was 15 years old, ​Molly has tackled leading roles in classical opera productions of Amahl and the Night Visitors, CendrillonRigoletto, and Twelfth Night. She first performed with Opera Santa Barbara during the 2015 run of Don Giovanni​, and she also recently participated in the Amalfi Coast Music Festival in Naples, Italy.

We caught up with Molly to find out what she thinks about​ portraying wild characters during her second time on the Opera Santa Barbara stage, her graduate school experience here at UCSB, and what inspires her love of opera.


In The Cunniing Little Vixen, I play Lapák the dog and Datel the woodpecker, and I am covering one of the leads, Fox Goldenstripe.

Playing Lapák the dog has been one of the most entertaining and joyful experiences I’ve ever had. He is the Forester’s pet dog and a bit of an angsty artist. He explains that his howling in the evenings are “compositions” about longing for love. I adore being this little character because one moment he acts like this profound, tortured soul and the next he’s gleefully chasing after a stick and trying to get his owner’s attention. I find quite a bit of humor in this disparate behavior and love the goofy transitions that ensue from it.

I would say that the greatest challenge for both my cover role and Lapák is trying to portray a male presence while maintaining an animal posture. As a human woman, I’ve spent a lot of time observing my male friends and animals in hopes of capturing some of their characteristics in my acting. The challenge of becoming someone other than yourself is the most complicated and rewarding element to acting.  


The Cunning Little Vixen is a perfect example of being transported to a new world in a multitude of ways. The plot and original Czech libretto are thoroughly steeped in Slavic culture. The characters talk in this direct and unapologetic way; the opera tackles the beauty of love and the relentless way that mankind pursues its various obsessions at all costs. In ​other ways, this opera reminds me of Bambi – the animals represent the beauty and innocence of nature and serve as a potent foil to the humans' selfish and myopic behavior. I think this direct but whimsical tackling of heavy issues isn’t so common in our modern fairytales and American plotlines, and I love it.


I came to UCSB because of my voice teacher, Dr. Linda Di Fiore. I would also consider her one of my many and influential mentors. I had studied with Dr. Di Fiore for a year when she told me she was moving to Santa Barbara to teach at UCSB; several of my peers and I followed her, and three years later we are all still astounded by how much she teaches us each day. She is one of the most brilliant, generous, tough, and inspiring people I’ve ever met and she’s an enormous part of why I am where I am today. I can’t speak highly enough of her.



I love opera because it really explores what humans are capable of. My colleagues and I have all been training since we were about fifteen years old, if not younger – training to project over an orchestra, interpret complex music, oh and don’t forget you have to act while you do that. I love opera because it demands being 10 steps ahead of all situations yet also being completely present in the moment so that the audience experiences your character's intense emotions.

Watch Clementz play Lapák the dog and Datel the woodpecker at Opera Santa Barbara's The Cunning Little Vixen this weekend at the Granada Theatre. For more information, click here.