City Opera

Music for Story's Sake

Cynthia Stokes, Artistic Director and Co-founder

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. Her work has been praised for, “clear story-telling, theatrical sensibility and 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.

In addition to staging SD City Opera’s production of The Andree Expedition, her spring 2016 productions include Bastien und Bastien for Mainly Mozart, as well as Phaedra/Acis and Galatea for Opera Piccola. Other recent credits include: South Pacific, Madama Butterfly and The Crucible for Piedmont Opera, Ricky Ian Gordon’s Orpheus & Euridice, Robert Xavier Rodriguez La Curandera and Bastien und Bastienne for San Antonio’s Opera Piccola; The Italian Straw Hat and La Périchole for Amarillo Opera; Dooley for Diversionary Theatre; Le nozze di Figaro and Roméo et Juliette for San Antonio Opera; Pagliacci at Opera San Jose. For Glimmerglass Opera, Ms. Stokes 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 (mainstage) and Così fan tutte (tour) for San Diego Opera; Madama Butterfly for Opera Company of Philadelphia and Homies and Popz (tour) for Los Angeles Opera.

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 and North Coast Rep.

Deeply committed to encouraging the next generation of 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 The New Music Theatre Ensemble. Ms. Stokes is currently on faculty at The Taos Opera Institute and served as an NEA panelist for opera.  She holds a B.A. in Theater from Colorado State University and an M.FA. in Directing from the University of California at San Diego.

Ms. Stokes is the President of City Opera.