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RTC stages world premiere – The Rubicon Theatre Company touts its current presentation, “A Time for Love,” as a sweetly comic, charmingly romantic and touchingly poignant song-cycle about a couple – played by Lois Robbins and Brian Sutherland – who fall in love, come together, marry and grow apart. The world premiere features familiar musical favorites plus original songs by David Shire and lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr., who previously collaborated on “Baby,” “Big” and “Closer Than Ever” on Broadway; Maltby created the show and directs. WHEN: Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 pm, Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm; ends Feb. 25, WHERE: Laurel Theater, 1106 E. Main St., Ventura, COST: $25-$45, discounts available, INFO: 667-2900.

‘Silk’ art – University Art Museum has two new exhibits, including one that ties in with a semester-long course culminating in a concert in April. “Sounds of the Silk Road” features 21 types of rare musical instruments drawn from the countries associated with the trade routes which connected China to the Mediterranean in the 15th century. The exhibition is presented in collaboration with UCSB’s campus-wide programming on the topic, which concludes with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project residency and concert in March. Opening reception is tomorrow from 5 pm to 8 pm. “Crafting a Modern World: The Architecture and Design of Antonin and Noémi Raymond” features works created by the husband-and-wife design collaborators in Japan and the U.S. from 1921-73. The couple developed humane modern environments – including landscapes, furnishings, rugs and textiles – inspired by their personal connections with Japan’s art and craft traditions. WHEN: noon to 5 pm Wed-Sun, through April 8, WHERE: UCSB campus (park in lot 23), COST: free, INFO: 893-7564 or www.uam.ucsb.edu.

Brooks alums exhibit – Five recent alumni of Brooks Institute of Photography have been invited to display their fine art photography at the school’s Cota Street Campus & Gallery. More than 50 images from the recent graduates will be on display, each with a different style and vision unique to the artist’s craft, including Big Sur photographer Kodiak Greenwood’s shots of the West Coast scenery, and Chris Buckpitt’s photos that capture the essence of people. WHEN: 8 am to 9 pm weekdays, 10 am to 9 pm weekends, through March 31, WHERE: 27 E. Cota St., COST: free, INFO: 690-4913.

African Heritage Film Series – Two art exhibits, one each at Karpeles Manuscript Library and Museum and Cabrillo Pavilion Arts Center, a community celebration and several movie presentations comprise the eighth annual event aiming to build understanding and interaction within the community. Film screenings include “From Swastika to Jim Crow,” which delves into the story of Jewish refugee scholars who were expelled from their homeland by the Nazis and found new lives at historically Black colleges in the American South, plus “St. Louis Blues,” and many others. WHEN: Through Feb. 28, INFO: 899-1160 or www.sbahfs.org.

Thursday, February 8

UCSB Film – Now that SBIFF is over for another year, you can turn back to our nearby state university for an ambitious film series offering the best in independent and foreign movies. “Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles” was the 2005 from Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou, director of “Hero” (2002), “House of Flying Daggers” (2004) and the current “Curse of the Golden Flower.” The film is a heroic account of a widowed fisherman on an extraordinary journey to redeem himself in the eyes of his dying son, which Box Office magazine called “a profound, powerful, heartfelt odyssey that cuts to the core of what it means to be a loving and virtuous human being.” WHEN: 7:30 pm, WHERE: UCSB’s Campbell Hall, COST: $6, INFO: 893-3535.

Mexican politician speaks – Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Solórzano, three-time presidential candidate and founder of Mexico’s Party of the Democratic Revolution, discusses the current state of affairs in a lecture titled “Perspectives on Today’s Mexico.” In an election eerily similar to what happened here in 2000, Cardenas narrowly lost 1988 Mexican presidential election when the computing system “crashed” and his sizable lead was transformed into a loss. The disputed result roiled Mexico and has since become fodder for a continuing debate over Mexico’s electoral process, including Mexico’s recent contested presidential election. Cardenas will address its aftermath in his talk. WHEN: 8 pm, WHERE: UCSB’s Campbell Hall, COST: free, INFO: 893-3535.

Taste of the Past – Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation launches a new three-part lecture-and-tasting series featuring a selection of culinary experts who will examine the stories behind some of California’s most popular foods and drinks. Today’s event covers “Chocolate and Chiles: From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Santa Barbara.” Artist, writer and culinary historian Miriam Hospodar will conduct the presentation, which concludes with a delicious tasting of chocolate confections, just a week before Valentine’s Day.

Friday, February 9

Guitar Festival – The Santa Barbara Symphony’s ambitious 10-day Guitar Festival gets underway today with a performance by the Westmont College Chamber Orchestra, featuring guitar faculty member Patrick Anderson at Victoria Hall. By the time this inaugural festival winds up on Feb. 18 with the grand finale joint concert by the symphony and co-artistic directors Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, Santa Barbara will have witnessed the six-string instrument in a variety of settings and genres, ranging from solo jazz music at SOhO to the guitar quartet’s chamber program at the Lobero to a series of masterclasses and free lunchtime concerts. Info at www.thesymphony.org.

Chamber music concert – Camerata Pacifica continues its season with a tasty program pairing modern works by Crumb (“11 Echoes of Autumn”), Takemitsu (“Rain Spell”) and Turnage (“Tune for Toru”), with Mozart’s elegant classic Quartet for Piano & Strings in G Minor. WHEN: 1 pm & 7:30 pm, WHERE: Lehmann Hall at Music Academy of the West, 1070 Fairway Rd., COST: $20 (1 pm) & $48, INFO: 884-8410.

Timbers Supper Club debuts – After a few months of serving dinner and several “soft” opening shows, the new dinner theater at the freshly restored Timbers Restaurant is ready to go! Dan Goggin’s award-winning irreverent musical “Nunsense” kicks things off tonight, 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. This is just the first of an ongoing series of shows that feature a fine table-served meal followed by high-quality theater in a historic building that flourished in the ’60s and ’80s. WHEN: Dinner 6:30 pm, show at 8 pm (Sunday brunch 12:30 pm and 2 pm); opens tonight, continues 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.

Historical lecture – Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin discusses her book “Team of Rivals – The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” as an object lesson of working with political opponents to get through difficult eras. Goodwin, who wrote “Lyndon Johnson and The American Dream” and won the Pulitzer for “No Ordinary Time – Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and the American Home Front during World War II,” will examine how the once underrated Lincoln strategically assembled a team to guide the U.S. through the Civil War and Reconstruction. WHEN: 8 pm, WHERE: UCSB’s Campbell Hall, COST: $35, INFO: 893-3535.

Saturday, February 10

Opera intro – LA Opera presents “The Prospector,” a 50-minute high-energy introduction to the world of opera designed for families. The lighthearted show is described as an imaginative and engaging celebration of Puccini’s “The Girl of the Golden West,” set in a California mining camp during the 1850s Gold Rush. WHEN: 11 am, WHERE: UCSB’s Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall, COST: $16, INFO: 893-2064 or www.music.ucsb.edu.

Classical ballet – With State Street Ballet’s new staging of “La Sylphide,” artistic director Rodney Gustafson follows the 1832 original by Filippo Taglioni in a classic fusion of artistic dance and mime that marked the advent of Romanticism in ballet. “La Sylphide” – a fairy tale classic tragedy of beauty, love and loss that recounts a mortal’s fated love for a supernatural creature – introduced the dance world to a generation of young artists who revolutionized ballet. Taglioni invented the technique of en pointe work for this ballet because he wanted his petite daughter, Marie, a principal ballerina, to appear taller on stage. State Street Ballet also performs “Napoli – The Fisherman and his Bride,” also from the same time period. WHEN: 8 pm tonight, 2 pm tomorrow, WHERE: Lobero Theatre, 33 W. Canon Perdido St., COST: $44/$24 adults, $38/$20 seniors & students, and $14 children under 12, INFO: 963-0761.

Big Band Now – That’s both the name and the description of the 16-piece orchestra that will bring back hits from Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey and others of the Swing Era for a concert/dance at Carrillo Recreation Center. Hear “Tuxedo Junction,” “Sing Sing Sing,” “Maple Leaf Rag” and others from the post WWII period. WHEN: 8 pm, WHERE: 100 E. Carrillo St., COST: $10, INFO: 967-1819 or 733-2077.

Sunday, February 11

Valentine Serenade – UCSB’s Music Department offers “Hearts for the Arts,” a concert of romantic music featuring a whole host of UCSB faculty members (including flutist Jill Felber, pianist Hee-Kyung Juhn and cellist Geoffrey Rutkowski), students and ensembles. The program – specifically arranged as a prelude to Valentine’s Day – includes works by Beethoven, Ives, Prokofiev, Schumann and others. WHEN: 3 pm, WHERE: Unitarian Society, 1535 Santa Barbara St., COST: $25 general, $10 students ($50 patrons, includes preferred seating and post-concert reception), INFO: 893-4388.

World Music in Goleta – Prince Diabaté, the “Prince of the Kora” – an African instrument that has been described as a cross between a harp and the lute – brings his engaging trio to the Song Tree concert series. Diabaté, who took up the instrument as a small child and won an international competition at 16, plays a lightning-quick percussive technique that is at once rhythmic, fluid and mesmerizing. At Song Tree, Prince Diabaté will perform in a trio, accompanied by guitar and assorted West African string and percussion instruments. WHEN: 3 pm, WHERE: Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 820 N. Fairview Ave., Goleta, COST: $15 INFO: 403-2639 or www.songtree.org.

Trinity embraces Elijah – Music director and organist David A. Gell has programmed a special concert for this month’s installment of “Music at Trinity: Excerpts from an Oratorio,” with words from the Hebrew Scriptures by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. Performers include soprano Elizabeth Rutherford as The Widow and The Angel, tenor Peter John Duda as Obadiah and Ahab, and Samuel de Palma as Elija. WHEN: 3:30 pm, WHERE: Trinity Episcopal Church, 1500 State St. (at Micheltorena), COST: free, INFO: 965-7419 or 687-0189 or www.trinitysb.org.

Afternoon of poetry – Famed American poet Billy Collins, a former U.S. Poet Laureate and the inaugural recipient of the Poetry Foundation’s Mark Twain Award for Humorous Poetry, reads selections from his various works in an afternoon sure to please romantics just three days before Valentine’s Day. WHEN: 4 pm, WHERE: UCSB’s Campbell Hall, COST: $20, INFO: 893-3535.

Tuesday, February 13

Reading romance – Montecito’s own T. C. Boyle tops a trio of local artists who will help couples and others celebrate love in its many forms via a special Speaking of Stories “Tales of Romance” edition. Boyle reads his own short fiction “Hope Rises” while actors John Fink, Dan Gunther and Fanny England perform pieces by Richard Bausch, Russell Banks and Isabelle Allende, respectively. WHEN: 7:30 pm, WHERE: Lobero Theatre, 33 W. Canon Perdido St., COST: $13-$30, INFO: 963-0761.

Wednesday, February 14

Morning music – Santa Barbara Music Club presents renowned pianist Gila Goldstein in a program featuring Bach’s Partita No. 5, Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words, Schubert’s Song Transcriptions and Prokofiev’s Sonata No.3. Also, arias from Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and Così fan tutte will be sung by soprano Donna Gibbs and mezzo soprano Susan Kuehn, with John Sonquist on piano. WHEN: 11 am, WHERE: Faulkner Gallery, SB Public Library, 40 E. Anapamu St., COST: free, INFO: 683-0811 or www.sbmusicclub.org.

Diva for V-Day – Celebrated soprano Dawn Upshaw performs a Valentine’s Day recital replete with a concert repertoire ranging from art songs and arias to modern folk tunes and works from the stage. Accompanied by pianist Molly Morkoski, the three-time Grammy Award-winning Upshaw will sing an eclectic program of songs by Schumann, Mussorgsky, Wolf, Berg, Golijov and more, concluding with cabaret songs by Kurt Weill and William Bolcom. WHEN: 8 pm, WHERE: Lobero Theatre, 33 W. Canon Perdido St., COST: $52.50 & $42.50, INFO: 963-0761.