The Heart & Rhythm of
Santa Barbara for 150 Years.


The Opera House

Originally founded as Jose Lobero’s Opera House in 1873, the Lobero is the oldest continuously operating theater in California, and the fourth oldest performing arts theater in the country. Whether hosting events of great societal importance, launching the careers of Hollywood legends, serving as an influential jazz venue, or providing a stage for some of the world’s finest performers, the Lobero inspires diverse audiences of all ages.

The Lobero
is a place
where we

Spirit of Fiesta 2022
Tara Mata Photo By Fritz Olenberger

a stage
for some
of the

Lindsey Buckingham 4-15-22
Photo By David Bazemore

The Lobero also provides a platform for local artists and regional organizations, such as Opera Santa Barbara, CAMA, Flamenco Arts Festival, State Street Ballet, AHA! and many more. With the next 150 years on the horizon, now is the time to commit to setting the stage for posterity – ensuring that this theater will be physically and financially ready for whatever the future holds, while providing support and partnership for its family of arts institutions that make the Lobero the cultural jewel of Santa Barbara.

Lobero Timeline

  • Grand Italian Operatic Concert

    Grand Italian Operatic Concert

    Giuseppe (Jose) Lobero’s Theatre has its official opening. Lobero’s Theatre is only the second opera house in California, and for more than a decade is the envy of Los Angeles.

  • Prof. S.S. Baldwin and Clara Baldwin

    Prof. S.S. Baldwin and Clara Baldwin

    In the late 1800’s, interest in Spiritualism is all the rage in America and the opera house is the ideal venue for performances catering both to believers
    as well as skeptics.

  • Tennessee Jubilee Singers

    Tennessee Jubilee Singers

    After the Civil War, jubilee minstrel troupes made up of ex-slaves are popular performers at opera houses across America.

  • Roller Skating

    Roller Skating

    As roller skating was all the rage, the Lobero removed theater chairs to provide a large rink for skaters to move in accompaniment to the sounds of a brass band.

  • John. L. Sullivan

    John. L. Sullivan

    The world’s first sports superstar boxer tries his hand at acting, appearing in the melodrama Honest Hearts and Willing Hands to a standingroom-
    only Lobero crowd.

  • Blind Tom

    Blind Tom

    Thomas Wiggins, born a slave on a Georgia plantation, has become a piano touring sensation, playing both classical works and popular songs on stages worldwide.

  • Susan B. Anthony

    Susan B. Anthony

    From the 1890’s – 1910’s, the Lobero Opera House is an important venue for the women’s suffrage movement and all seats are filled when this famous women’s rights activist comes to speak.

  • W.C. Fields

    W.C. Fields

    A young W.C. Fields was considered the comedy juggler of his generation and visits the Lobero as part of the Great Orpheum Road Show – billed as the “eccentric tramp juggler.”

  • New Lobero Theatre

    New Lobero Theatre

    After the lights are turned off at the Lobero Opera House, the new Lobero Theatre, designed by George Washington Smith and Lutah Maria Riggs, premieres with the social satire Beggar on Horseback.

  • Bing Crosby

    Bing Crosby

    Will Morrissey’s Music Hall Revue comes to town – with pianist Al Rinker and the talented 23-year-old jazz crooner, Crosby – who specialize in interesting jazz rhythms and tricky harmonies.

  • Clark Gable

    Clark Gable

    25-year-old Clark Gable appears at the Lobero, alongside veteran headliner Pauline Frederick, in the drama Lucky Sam Carver.

  • Sergei Rachmaninoff

    Sergei Rachmaninoff

    The Russian composer, conductor and virtuoso pianist performs at the Lobero as part of the Community Arts Music Association’s (CAMA) 10th season.

  • Bela Lugosi as Dracula

    Bela Lugosi as Dracula

    Two years before he stars in the world-famous horror film, Bela Lugosi takes the stage as the blood-sucking vampire, Dracula.

  • Paul Robeson

    Paul Robeson

    A standing-room-only audience fills the Lobero to hear the singer unleash his rich timbered, bass-baritone voice in a program that ranges from classical arias to southern spirituals.

  • Humphrey Bogart

    Humphrey Bogart

    The play The Mad Hopes, a comedy starring Billie Burke and featuring a young Bogart, previews at the Lobero.

  • Martha Graham

    Martha Graham

    Graham – considered by many to be the 20th century’s most important dancer and the mother of modern dance – first performs at the Lobero, which she soon considers her second home.

  • Marian Anderson

    Marian Anderson

    The American singer, known for her warm and modest personality, enthralls the audience with her extraordinary contralto voice.

  • Ingrid Bergman

    Ingrid Bergman

    Opening night of Eugene O’Neill’s play Anna Christie, starring Ingrid Bergman, with Hollywood luminaries such as Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin, Lana Turner, Olivia de Havilland, and more in the audience.

  • Yehudi Menuhin

    Yehudi Menuhin

    The 27-year-old violin prodigy steps onto the stage with his 1733 “Prince Khevenhuller” Stradivarius and mesmerizes the audience with his flamboyant virtuosity.

  • Orson Welles

    Orson Welles

    The 30-year-old director of Citizen Kane previews his speech on fascism, entitled “The Nature of the Enemy,” at the Lobero before traveling to deliver
    it in New York.

  • Lucille Ball

    Lucille Ball

    On New Year’s Eve, the comic whirlwind takes to the Lobero stage in the ambitious comedy-fantasy, Dream Girl.

  • José Greco

    José Greco

    This is the year America falls in love with classical flamenco dance, when the José Greco Company brings their riveting showmanship to the Lobero for 4 performances.

  • Dave Brubeck

    Dave Brubeck

    The legendary American jazz pianist and composer performs at the Lobero and, in the following decades, the theater helps popularize a new style of jazz known as “west coast” or “cool jazz.”

  • Richard Pryor

    Richard Pryor

    The well-known comedian brings his raw, unfiltered act to the Lobero and the sold-out, tightly-packed audience roars with laughter – sometimes nervously.

  • Tom Waits

    Tom Waits

    The gravelly voiced singer/songwriter performs two evening shows billed as “A Very Special Turkey for Thanksgiving.”

  • Charles Lloyd

    Charles Lloyd

    The composer and saxophone great graces the Lobero for the first time with his innovative and transcendent jazz.

  • Marcel Marceau

    Marcel Marceau

    The French mime artist and “master of silence” delights a Lobero audience with his brilliant pantomime.

  • Dizzy Gillespie

    Dizzy Gillespie

    The jazz trumpet virtuoso performs as part of the illustrious “Jazz at the Lobero” series.

  • Mikhail Baryshnikov

    Mikhail Baryshnikov

    The dance legend performs for 5 consecutive solo shows at the Lobero – the smallest, most intimate stage he has appeared on in 20 years.

  • Carol Burnett

    Carol Burnett

    The comedic genius teams up with fellow Santa Barbara resident John Cleese in the tender, tragi-comedy Love Letters.

  • Jeff Bridges

    Jeff Bridges

    Jeff Bridges joins T-Bone Burnett for an evening of country and American roots music.

  • Neil Young

    Neil Young

    Neil Young & Promise of the Real rock the Lobero for three nights.

An Ovation Celebration

To commemorate this occasion, the theater will mount a public celebration and awareness campaign to pay tribute to this remarkable landmark, and position the Lobero Theatre to be a prominent, integral, and essential stage for the performing arts in Santa Barbara well into the future.

As part of that acknowledgment, The Lobero Theatre Foundation’s Board is launching a $6 million endowment and capital campaign.

Endowment – Community
Access Fund (CAF) - $2.5 M

For 150 years, the Lobero Theatre has enjoyed a symbiotic relationship with the wonderful arts organizations that perform on its stage. The Community Access Fund (CAF) supports a vibrant arts scene and fosters a new generation of artists and audiences that will significantly impact the future of the industry. The CAF will allow the theater to meaningfully subsidize the community’s use of the Lobero, reducing their expenses and allowing them to focus their limited resources on production and audience development – thereby strengthening the health and growth of each organization.

Building Maintenance
Endowment - $2.5 M

The Lobero’s remarkable sesquicentennial represents a key milestone in the city’s cultural timeline. The building itself is the Lobero Theatre Foundation’s greatest asset and the main focus of its stewardship. The Building Maintenance Endowment ensures that a significant annual investment is made toward the building’s technical systems and historic aesthetics. Every effort will be made to prioritize maintaining state-of-the-art technology, while honoring the unique architectural design created by George Washington Smith and Lutah Maria Riggs. This vital fund will systematically reduce the need for a major capital campaign.

Capital Items - $1 M

Several major capital needs have developed since the last capital campaign in 2013, including a new LED lighting system and the addition of solar panels. Once the Building Maintenance Endowment is fully funded, it will be possible to address system upgrades on an annual basis. Immediate capital priorities include facility security measures, courtyard enhancement, exterior painting of the theater, stage floor replacement, PA (Public Address) system improvements, and green room refurbishment. These goals strengthen the Lobero Theatre’s capacity to serve its mission, while adding stability to its annual financial position.

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We Welcome Your
Ovation Celebration

To learn more about how to get involved, please
contact our Ovation Team:

Jim Dougherty

Ovation Coordinator and
Heritage Director

Brett Hodges

Ovation Chair

Brandon Mowery

Director of Development

Sylvie Monsivais

Assistant Director of Development