Viva Verdi! – Opera Santa Barbara is dedicating its ambitious second annual opera festival to the great composer Giuseppe Verdi, featuring new, fully staged productions of the much-beloved “Rigoletto” and the lesser-known but much-admired “A Masked Ball” in repertory. Five major singers are making their OSB debuts in the two productions, which are both conducted by Opera Santa Barbara’s artistic director, Valery Ryvkin. The 16-day festival also boasts recitals, masterclasses, lectures, behind-the-scenes tours, pre-performance dinners and a brand new Young Artists Program. Get a complete schedule online at

‘Memory’ lingers – A big hit on London’s West End when it opened in 1998, “The Memory of Water” is not only making its Santa Barbara debut in this presentation by the Ensemble Theatre Company – it’s also the first time veteran actress Stephanie Zimbalist is hitting the boards in town. Zimbalist plays Mary, one of three sisters who return home to the north of England for their mother's funeral, in the process rekindling old sibling jealousies rife with witty bickering and touching on all the joys and sorrows of family relationships. WHEN: 8 pm Tuesdays thru Saturdays and 2 pm & 7 pm Sunday through March 11, WHERE: 914 State St., COST: $25-$37 (discounts for students, seniors and groups), INFO: 962-8606 or

Tamayo at SBMOA – Santa Barbara Museum of Art is serving as lead organizer of a new international exhibition of the works of Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo. “Tamayo: A Modern Icon Reinterpreted” is the first major exhibit of Tamayo’s work in the United States in more than 27 years, and features more than 100 paintings and portable murals amassed from public and private collections around the world. Dubbed “The Fourth Great One” in his native Mexico, Tamayo’s works conjure familiar images of the country, including the colors, textures, culture – particularly in his numerous renditions of Mexico’s traditional marketplaces replete with flowers, tropical fruit and native folk art. The exhibit travels to museums in Florida and Mexico City after its inaugural run here. WHEN: 11 am to 5 pm Tuesdays-Sundays, through May 27, WHERE: 1130 State St., COST: $9 (discounts for seniors, students and children; free every Sunday), INFO: 963-4364.

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 Kelly Ary in what is just the first of an ongoing series of shows that featuring 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/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 1

Second 1st Thursday – Santa Barbara’s newest art and cultural program returns for a second month following a smashing debut during the Santa Barbara International Film Festival last month. Designed to integrate access to art into a fun and social environment (á la wildly successful “Nights” program at the Museum of Art), 1st Thursday offers free admission to a wide variety of art venues with a whole host of other simultaneous activities. Ten galleries are new this month, as is ARTS ALIVE!’s child care component (additional fee) so that parents can partake in the festivities. Highlights include: Brooks Institute of Photography’s downtown gallery (27 East Cota St.) showing of “Ocean of Storms,” an award-winning trilogy of short films written and directed by Brooks faculty member Glynn Beard; a hands-on community painting project on the patio in front of Borders Books (900 State St.); Bud Bottoms signing copies of his latest book, “Kid Ethics,” at Bottoms Art Gallery (La Arcada Court), with music from Larry Iwerks; Richard Sanford discussing the poetry of organic wine and offering samples of Alma Rosa Wines at Patty Look Lewis Gallery (25 E. De la Guerra St.); and an excerpt from Opera Santa Barbara’s fully staged production of “Rigoletto” at the Lobero, including a post-performance reception with the artists (5:30 pm at the Lobero, $5). WHEN: 5 pm to 8 pm, INFO:

Violin concert – UCSB music faculty member Yuval Yaron premieres his own arrangement and transcription of the Chasidic Nigun – Chabad Melodies for solo violin. UCSB faculty pianist Hee-Kyung Juhn joins Yaron for works by Mendelssohn and Dvorak in the concert on campus. WHEN: 8 pm, WHERE: UCSB’s Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall, COST: $12, INFO: 893-2064.

Friday, March 2

Journlist lectures – Tariq Ali, an Oxford-educated author, filmmaker, BBC-TV and print journalist and activist who has been at the forefront of anti-war movements from Vietnam to Iraq, discusses “Rights and Needs: Neo-Liberalism, Democracy, and Military Humanism.” WHEN: 4 pm, WHERE: UCSB’s Campbell Hall, COST: free, INFO: 893-3535.

Printmakers show – Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara presents a juried show of artwork by the Santa Barbara Printmakers entitled “A Small Image Show.” The group of artists dedicated to promoting and producing artwork that uses hand, press and computer printing techniques for the purposes of artistic exploration and expression has created works in such techniques as etching, monotype, woodblock, linocut, clay, lithography and digital programming. WHEN: Artists’ reception 5 pm to 7:30 pm, exhibit open 9 am to 2 pm Mon-Thur through March 20, WHERE: 229 E. Victoria St., COST: free, INFO: 965-6307.

LA (on film) in SB – Filmmaker Thom Anderson and his critically acclaimed documentary “Los Angeles Plays Itself” return to Santa Barbara for a screening and discussion. The film examines how the city has been used and often abused by Hollywood and photographers in its long history as the hub of the visual entertainment industry, and delves into the area’s nature and history. A Q&A session with Anderson follows the screening sponsored by UCSB’s Graduate Film Society, Department of Film and Media Studies and the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center. WHEN: 7 pm, WHERE: Isla Vista Theater, 960 Embarcadero del Norte, COST: call, INFO: 893-2347 or 893-5446.

Christian rock concert – Twelve-year-old Texas-based band MercyMe provides the title for this tour, taken from its 2006 album, “Coming Up To Breathe.” Also on the bill: Audio Adrenaline, which has scored 18 hits and garnered two Grammy Awards, in its farewell tour, with special guest Aaron Shust. WHEN: 7:30 pm, WHERE: Arlington Theatre, 1317 State St., COST: $19.50-$49.50, INFO: 963-4408 or

Polish music concert – Join the Polish Highlanders – straight out of the Polish Tatra Mountains, a repository for Eastern European folk culture – in a night of music, song and dance. WHEN: 8 pm, WHERE: UCSB’s MultiCultural Center Theater, COST: $15, INFO: 893-8411.

Saturday, March 3

Fiber Arts – Santa Barbara Fiber Arts Guild’s monthly meeting for March includes a presentation by Georganne Alex, who has worked with kimono fabric, vintage and contemporary fabrics for more than 25 years. She will share how to look at fabric, what fabrics are good to use, how to test for strength and how to incorporate the uniqueness of vintage fabrics into your work. Authentic Japanese kimonos will be on sale. WHEN: 9:30 am to noon (presentation starts at 10:30 am), WHERE: Shifco Community Center, Santa Fe Place, near Cliff Drive, INFO: 967-5473 or

Celebrity Waiters Gala – Turn the tables on local business and civic leaders and media personalities who will serve drinks and food, pose for photos and cater to your (almost) any whim in return for tips that benefit the American Lung Association. This year’s theme is Mardi Gras in Santa Barbara, hence music by the Zydeco Zippers and an invitation to don masks and beads. The event also honors Dr. Myron Liebhaber and 30 years of Camp Wheez. A raffle and silent auction rounds out the activities. WHEN: 6 pm to 10 pm, WHERE: Fess Parker DoubleTree Inn, 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd., COST: $125, INFO: 963-1426 or

Dancing with Luis – Grammy Award-winning drummer Luis Conte is the focal point for a weekend of drumming featuring performances and workshops at two locations in town. Conte has toured and/or recorded with stars far and wide, including Madonna, Ray Charles, Eric Clapton, Santana, Jackson Browne, Barbra Streisand, James Taylor, and Ozzy Osbourne, plus Cuban legends Arturo Sandoval and Cachao. His score and soundtrack résumé lists “Miami Vice,” “Mission Impossible,” “Rain Man,” “Waiting To Exhale,” “Ocean’s 12” and locally connected “Sideways,” to name just a few. Tonight at SOhO, the percussion master performs with the all-star band Cuba L.A., whose members include Poncho Sanchez percussionist Jose Rodriguez and charanga pianist Alberto Salas, with Santa Barbara’s own Dancing Drum Community Ensemble opening. Tomorrow, he teaches two clinics on Afro-Cuban Drumming & Percussion at the Dancing Drum Rhythm & Art Center, 810 East Gutierrez Street (call 682-8250 for cost and times). WHEN: 9 pm, WHERE: 1221 State St., upstairs in Victoria Court, COST: $15, INFO: 962-7776.

Sunday, March 4

Jazz in the afternoon – Former Montecito resident Ian Bernard, who left for the more rural environs of Santa Ynez, returns seaside for an afternoon of music. The well-known humorist, writer and composer is also an accomplished pianist; his Ian Bernard Quartet features Goleta-based Brazilian jazz singer Teka, plus Santa Barbara stalwarts Tom Lackner on drums and Jim Connolly on bass. WHEN: 1 pm to 4 pm, WHERE: 1221 State St., upstairs in Victoria Court, INFO: 962-7776.

Shearer comedy – Although he appeared more than 30 times over six seasons on Saturday Night Live way back in the early ’80s, and was an integral part of one of biggest cult classic films and is heard by millions of TV viewers every week, Harry Shearer could probably walk down State Street without turning a head. He co-created and played Derek Smalls in the heavy-metal spoof “This Is Spinal Tap,” directed by Christopher Guest, who also cast Shearer in winning roles in “A Mighty Wind” and the recent “For Your Consideration.” Shearer is also the voice of Mr. Burns, Smithers and Ned Flanders on TV’s “The Simpsons,” and has written comedy books and is currently the host of the social satire public radio program “Le Show.” Now you can hear him do his deadpan, social anger-fired stand-up in his Santa Barbara debut, this afternoon at UCSB. WHEN: 4 pm, WHERE: UCSB’s Campbell Hall, COST: $35, INFO: 893-3535.

Monday, March 5

Film premiere – Just one week after it opens in New York, “Into Great Silence” gets its first West Coast screening at UCSB. The documentary offers a rare glimpse into the rigorous lives of the reclusive monks of The Grand Chartreuse, the mother house of the Carthusian Order, one of the strictest of Catholic orders whose followers are dedicated entirely to the service of God and the spiritual life. Sixteen years in the making, the film follows the monks through their meticulous daily practice, as filmmaker Philip Gröning offers a poetic, measured essay that reviewers have said induces a stillness and sense of peace among viewers. WHEN: 7:30 pm, WHERE: UCSB’s Campbell Hall, COST: $6, INFO: 893-3535.

Tuesday, March 6

Ballet Fandango – In just its second season, Ballet Santa Barbara continues to carve out a niche on the local dance scene with “Fandango and Other Fantasies: An Evening of Intimate and Adventurous Works.” Dances include pieces by company founder Carrie Diamond and choreographer Melinda Horwitz as well as a world premiere of Susan Shaberman’s “Silent Voices,” based on a musical composition by Benjamin Lees. Featured artists Carlos Fittante and Aida Amirkhanian (from New York City and Los Angeles, respectively) join a company of dancers that combine the skill and discipline of classic ballet with the physical movement and freedom of modern dance. WHEN: 8 pm tonight and tomorrow, WHERE: Center Stage Theater, 751 Paseo Nuevo (Chapala @ De la Guerra), COST: $20 (students, seniors and SB Dance Alliance members $18), INFO: 963-0408 or

Wednesday, March 7

Piano recital – Grammy Award-winning pianist Murray Perahia returns to Santa Barbara for an intimate recital at UCSB’s Campbell Hall. Perahia, the principal guest conductor of the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields who is known for his thoughtful, reflective playing, will perform a program of works by Bach, Beethoven, Schumann and Chopin. Perahia also conducts a masterclass with UCSB music students tomorrow from noon to 2 pm at Karl Geiringer Hall on campus (free, open to the public for observation). WHEN: 8 pm WHERE: UCSB’s Campbell Hall, COST: $55, INFO: 893-3535 or