Viva Verdi! finale – Opera Santa Barbara’s ambitious second annual opera festival dedicated to the great composer Giuseppe Verdi features new, fully staged productions of the much-beloved “Rigoletto” and the lesser-known but perhaps more musical “A Masked Ball” in repertory. Five major singers are making their Opera Santa Barbara debuts in the two productions, which are both conducted by the outfit’s artistic director, Valery Ryvkin. The 16-day festival is nearly over, but you still have time to catch both operas, plus a smattering of special events. Get a complete schedule online at

Timbers Supper Club – After a few months of serving dinner and several “soft” opening shows, the new dinner theater at the freshly restored Timbers Restaurant is back in action! Dan Goggin’s award-winning irreverent musical “Nunsense” kicks things off with a semi-slapstick/farce of a sisterhood that needs to raise funds fast by putting on a variety show. The musical grabbed a slew of awards when it debuted 20 years ago off Broadway. Glenn Novack produces and Peter McCorkle directs a cast of local actors including Katie Thatcher, Jennifer Gimblin, Julie Anne Ruggieri, Holly Ferguson and Kelly Ary. WHEN: Dinner 6:30 pm, show at 8 pm (Sunday brunch 12:30 pm/2 pm); Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons through March 18, WHERE: 10 Winchester Canyon, Goleta, COST: $55, $65, $75 ($10 less for brunch show), INFO: 968-2222.

Thursday, March 8

Ford’s foundation – Renowned archaeologist Dr. Anabel Ford shares how the ancient Maya culture maintained a bio-diverse forest that was productive for them as well as sustainable for local ecosystems. The evening includes a short video by Jane Goodall and a talk on El Pilar Archaeological Reserve for Maya Flora and Fauna, a future showcase of the traditional forest garden culture of the Maya. Stay for a post-event reception with Dr. Ford. WHEN: 7 pm, WHERE: Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, 2559 Puesta del Sol Rd., COST: free, INFO: 685-1283.

Tequila Temptations – Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation closes out its three-part lecture and tasting series with an evening dedicated to the drink made from agave. Alex Castillo, general manager of El Cazador del Mar restaurant, will reveal the story – the myths, legends and history – behind North America ’s first distilled drink and first commercially produced alcohol. After all that talk, you can sample three types of premium tequila along with such tequila-inspired appetizers as sautéed shrimp with tequila garlic cilantro sauce and chicken with tequila green sauce and three cheese tamalitos. WHEN: 7 pm, WHERE: Presidio Chapel, 123 E. Canon Perdido St., COST: $65 ($10 discount for SBTHP members), INFO: 965-0093 or

Classic tale – UCSB faculty member Irwin Appel directs the school’s theater department presentation of Anton Chekhov’s “Three Sisters,” a portrait of three young woman who yearn to transcend the limitations of life in their provincial town. WHEN: 8 pm today through Sunday plus 2 pm Saturday and Sunday, WHERE: Performing Arts Theatre on the UCSB campus, COST: $12 general, $8 students/seniors, INFO: 893-3535 or

Time is Near – Holly Near has been a politically active singer-songwriter for more than 35 years, dating back to the end of the ’60s, a time for social change. Always operating somewhat below the radar, Near has nevertheless been a focal point for action, no less so on her 2006 album, “Show Up,” a pointed indictment of today’s divisive society that includes covers of Jackson Browne’s “Lives in the Balance” and a re-imagining of Laura Nyro’s “I Want You Gone” for today’s political leaders. Near – who has been described as a mix of Pete Seeger and Judy Garland – returns to town in a co-presentation of SOhO and the Fund for Santa Barbara in celebration of International Women’s Day, with cabaret singer John Bucchino opening. WHEN: 8 pm, WHERE: 1221 State St., upstairs in Victoria Court, COST: $25, INFO: 962-7776

Updated ‘Anne’ – After two recent world premieres, Rubicon Theater Company’s next production returns to the traditional, albeit with a new twist. Based on the true story of a young Jewish girl’s writings while hiding in her father’s office during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam, “The Diary of Anne Frank” chronicles just about every human emotion and has become a dramatic favorite. Rubicon will stage a recent adaptation by Wendy Kesselman, based on the 1955 Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Goodrich and Hackett, and including new passages from Anne’s writings. WHEN: Previews tonight and tomorrow at 8 pm, opens Saturday at 7 pm. Plays Wednesdays at 2 pm & 7 pm, Thursdays and Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 2 pm & 8 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm; ends April 1, WHERE: Laurel Theater, 1106 E. Main St., Ventura, COST: $25-$45, discounts available, INFO: 667-2900.

Friday, March 9

Arts Fund awards – The nonprofit Arts Fund, which supports artists and arts programming in Santa Barbara county, presents its 18th annual Individual Artist Awards in a reception and awards ceremony at the gallery in the Funk Zone. Categories include Works on Paper, Works in Clay, Digital Art and Acoustic Guitar and all winners and honorable mentions are part of a show on exhibit through the end of the month. WHEN: 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm, WHERE: 205 Santa Barbara St., COST: free, INFO: 965-7321.

Silk Road concerts – Cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the East-meets-West Silk Road Ensemble perform in concert in the finale to a semester-long study – and weeklong residency – in the cultural exchange drawn from the old Europe-to-Asia trade routes. The music is a mixture of Eastern and Western influences, offering selections rarely heard in a city as small as Santa Barbara, and the program is different at each concert, so why not make a weekend out of it? WHEN: 8 pm tonight, 4 pm tomorrow, WHERE: Arlington Theatre, 1317 State St., COST: $65 & $45, INFO: 963-4408.

Saturday, March 10

Celebrity Authors Luncheon – CALM’s 21st annual event hits adulthood with an afternoon mixing Hollywood with literature. Actors turned authors Mariel Hemingway and Peter Falk top an impressive roster of writers including Montecito’s Jane Heller, and Lynne Cox and James Rollins, all of whom will be interviewed on stage while a whole host of additional authors will take part in appearances and book signings before and after the main event. “Chicken Soup for the Soul” impresario Jack Canfield is the emcee, and former KEYT anchorwoman Debby Davison and Borders regional marketing manager Kate Schwab will conduct the interviews. All proceeds benefit CALM (Child Abuse and Listening Mediation). For a preview of the luncheon read “Mark Your Calendar” on page 18. WHEN: 10 am to 3 pm, WHERE: Fess Parker DoubleTree Inn, 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd. COST: $100 INFO: 682-3925 or

Storybook time – Hans Christian Andersen’s classical fairytale, “The Little Mermaid,” has enchanted children for years in every imaginable media, including the wildly popular Disney film. Ensemble’s Storybook Theatre brings the tantalizing undersea tale of the young mermaid who yearns to be human back to the stage in a version adapted by playwright Sandra Fenichel Asher with original songs by Storybook director Miller James. The family-oriented series has moved its public performances to the Marjorie Luke Theatre on the SB Junior High School campus to accommodate larger audiences. WHEN: 12noon today and next Saturday, March 17 WHERE: 721 E. Cota St. COST: $12, children $8 (under two free) INFO: 962-8606 or

Monday, March 12

Household music – What’s more fun, listening to a Headless Household concert or reading the periodic press releases chock full of clever adjectives from band member Josef Woodard, one of Santa Barbara’s most prolific arts and entertainment scribes? OK, OK, it’s the music, which Woodard describes this time around as “naggingly eclectic, fun-loving yet cerebral,” meaning there really are no limits to the genre-busting pursuits of Woodard and his cohorts, drummer Tom Lackner and keyboardist Dick Dunlap. As usual, an impressive array of guest local players (vocalist Julie Christensen, saxophonist Tom Buckner, violinist Sally Barr, multi-instrumentalist Bill Flores and others) will be on hand for this show, dubbed the “Spring Sing.” WHEN: 8 pm, WHERE: 1221 State St., upstairs in Victoria Court, COST: $7, INFO: 962-7776,

Wednesday, March 14

Morning music – Lovers of classical music are sure to find something to their liking at this installment of the Santa Barbara Music Club’s on-going series of concerts featuring local musicians. What with works by Rachmaninoff, Bartók, Daquin, Ibert, Rameau, Schumann, Tchaikovsky and Foote, and instruments including piano, cello, violin, viola and flute, they’ve got you covered. WHEN: 11 am, WHERE: Faulkner Gallery, SB Public Library, 40 E. Anapamu St., COST: free, INFO: 683-0811 or

Locals only – The Tales From the Tavern singer-songwriter series winds up the 2007 winter session with its first ever night dedicated to Santa Ynez Valley musicians. Gerald Di Pego – better known as the screenwriter of “Phenomenon,” “Message in a Bottle” and “Angel Eyes ” – will read a new short story before Valley-ites Gib Foss, Art Green and Greg DeLeon perform in-the-round to close out the season. WHEN: 7 pm, WHERE: Taproom at Firestone-Walker Brewery, 620 McMurray Rd., Buellton, COST: $25, INFO: 688-0383.

Home on the (G)range – Fiddler champion Byron Berline returns to the Central Coast for two evenings of traditional bluegrass and Western swing music. Berline, whose résumé includes early stints with the “Father of Bluegrass” Bill Monroe and the Dillards, brings a fine five-piece band along for this gig, which will be reprised the following night at the Song Tree Concert Series in Goleta. WHEN: 7:30 pm both nights, WHERE: Santa Ynez Valley Grange Hall, 2374 Alamo Pintado Ave., Los Olivos, tonight; Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 820 N. Fairview, Goleta, tomorrow, COST: $15 advance, $20 at the door tonight; $15 tomorrow, INFO: for tonight; 403-2639 or for tomorrow.

Richard’s back – Justin Timberlake may be bringing “Sexy Back,” but Richard Thompson’s brand of singer-songwriter never goes out of style. An astonishing guitarist – particularly on the solo acoustic, as he will be tonight – Thompson is also one of the most incisive songwriters of the modern era, blessed with insight as well as a vast knowledge of history (as evidenced by his recent “1,000 Years of Popular Music” project). Tonight’s concert finds Thompson back in his element skewering relationships, slicing open his own heart and piercing the mendacity of others – and finding cheeky British humor in all of it yet again in this special added show of the Sings Like Hell series. WHEN: 8 pm, WHERE: Lobero Theatre, 33 W. Canon Perdido St., COST: $39.50 advance, $42.50 at the door ($25 subscribers), INFO: 963-0761.

Aussie dance – Don’t mistake Chunky Move for a new flavor of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, although the Australian dance company certainly offers a tasty confection. The ensemble from Down Under has turned the dance world on its ear with a genre-bending take on contemporary dance that blends explosive movements with storytelling and avant garde techniques. Chunky Move will perform “I Want to Dance Better at Parties,” a multimedia piece based on interviews with five men about their experiences with dance that artistic director Gideon Obarzanek conducted for a film documentary; it eventually morphs into impressionistic interpretations of their inner lives. Bonus: members of the company will conduct community classes at 5:30 pm (Teen Creative Workshop) and 7:30 pm (Modern Dance Technique Workshop) on Monday, March 12, at the Santa Barbara Jazz Dance Academy (1 N. Calle Cesar Chavez; $15 particpants/$5 observers; co-sponsored by Santa Barbara Dance Alliance; 966-6950.) WHEN: 8 pm, WHERE: UCSB’s Campbell Hall, COST: $35, INFO: 893-3535.