Opera Santa Barbara at 25: Returns to its first home, the Lobero Theatre
In 1993 Marilyn Gilbert and the late Nathan Rundlett founded the Santa Barbara Grand Opera and the company’s first production was Die Fledermaus at the Lobero Theatre. Subsequent early productions included a company premiere of La Traviata – its first grand opera (1995), four performances of Carmen during Old Spanish Days, and then the “little company that could” launched its first full season with La bohème, Don Giovanni and Rigoletto in 1996. The company officially changed its name to Opera Santa Barbara before their 2003 tenth anniversary season with productions of Don Giovanni and Madama Butterfly. Subsequent years saw performances of Rigoletto, Ballo in Maschera, Italiana in Algeri, Faust, Cavalleria Rusticana, Pagliacci and Elixir of Love.
“This anniversary season not only celebrates the last 25 years but also documents our commitment to the next 25 and beyond. – Kostis Protopapas
Artistic & General Director Kostis Protopapas has pledged to nurture the future of opera by presenting contemporary works alongside the classics, to embrace change and to continuously seek new ways to share our vision and enrich lives.
Opera Santa Barbara closes its 25th Anniversary season at the Lobero Theatre with what is sure to be a memorable conclusion this season with Robert Ward’s “The Crucible” based on Arthur Miller’s classic American drama.
Over the last six months, I’ve had the honor to meet many of our donors, patrons, and performers. Without fail, each expresses a tremendous love for the Lobero Theatre, and “The Lobero Experience.”
If you’re a frequent visitor, you know how it feels to be in the house when performers share personal stories about how long they’ve been playing here, and somehow it feels like you’re just chatting with an old friend.
An experience at the Lobero is about more than seeing a performance, it’s also about connecting and creating memories with others.
Our staff and crew work to create an atmosphere of intimacy, adding personal touches whenever we can. We view every performer, renter, patron, and donor as part of the Lobero family. This palpable quality of home, inclusion, and connection inspires artists and patrons alike to return time and again.
Born in the dark days following World War I, flourishing during the roaring twenties, and eluding demise during the great depression, CAMA has endured through a story of struggle, survival, and triumph as compelling as the world-renowned music and performers it presents.
CAMA’s roots date to the 1919 Civic Music Committee and the 1921 Orchestra Committee (Music Branch) of the Community Arts Association (CAA). Though they differed in approach, the two organizations were in accord in wanting to promote and provide the very best in classical music for Santa Barbara. It was the CAA that, in 1922, took on the monumental task of re-building Jose Lobero’s declining Opera House into the Lobero Theatre that we know today. Both organizations continued their work side-by-side until 1926 when the CAA Music Branch took on the work of the Civic Music Committee. In 1941, the Music Branch incorporated as a separate entity, CAMA, and continued the work begun in 1919.
CAMA’s presentation of live classical music performances featuring world-renowned artists and orchestras over the past 100 years is a testament to its founders and successors who have upheld their commitment to enriching Santa Barbara’s cultural life, and those who have supported this legacy. Today, CAMA continues to enrich the lives of the Santa Barbara region and its visitors to experience and enjoy classical music through live performances and educational outreach for future generations.
We wanted to turn the spotlight to the real stars of each and every show at the Lobero–our family of volunteer ushers!
Herewith, four exemplary individuals who have been recognized as Usher of the Year:
“I have been ushering all of the wonderful music, humor, and educational and community events that this unique and wonderful theatre offers for 10 years, and it has been a life-changing experience. I am proud to be a part of the great Lobero family. Arriving early when the theatre is empty to help prepare for opening [the house], I’m still filled with anticipation at what magic is in store.”
– Phil Parson, Usher of the Year 2014
“I find it incredibly difficult to put into words all of the gratitude that I have in my heart for being embraced and welcomed into the Lobero Theatre Family! It’s truly a very, very special venue. I still absolutely adore my favorite position of taking tickets, personally greeting and welcoming patrons with a smile to a place that feels like home, and that I have such great pride in being a part of!”
– Evelyne Chezum, Usher of the Year 2015
“As a retired elementary teacher, ushering at the Lobero has allowed me to give back to the community. I am able to cross paths with patrons of all ages and work alongside people that I may not have met otherwise. The Lobero has introduced me to a wide range of talented artists–experiencing their performances is truly something I cherish!”
– Sherry Shultz, Usher of the Year 2016
“I never tire of walking into one of Santa Barbara’s great architectural treasures; the Lobero is beautiful inside and out. As an usher, I most enjoy the patrons’ surprise and excitement on their first visit. The community of hardworking staff and volunteers is impressive–bright, interesting, dedicated, and positive. I have enjoyed experiencing the operation of a first-rate theatre and am most grateful for the new friendships and the opportunity to help.”
–Linda Wolcott Moore, Usher of the Year 2017