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Opera Santa Barbara holds free noontime performance at Santa Maria Library

Noontime Opera
The dramatic sound of opera filled Shepard Hall at the Santa Maria Public Library Monday afternoon during a free performance held by Opera Santa Barbara (Dave Alley/KEYT)

SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- The dramatic and unmistakable sound of opera filled Shepard Hall at the Santa Maria Public Library Monday afternoon.

The free performance was held by Opera Santa Barbara, which offers a series of "Noontime Concerts" at the library three times a year.

"We perform an hour of music," said Lex Benes, Education & Community Engagement Manager. "This particular performance is in preparation of our upcoming opera, El Postino (The Postman) by Daniel Catán. He's a Mexican-American composer, so the entire program is going to be in Spanish."

The show was part of an outreach program Opera Santa Barbara regularly hosts throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

"We want to have lovers of opera come," said Benes. "Santa Barbara is probably going to be the closet place to come, instead of driving all the way to Los Angeles, up to San Francisco. We're a local company made in Santa Barbara. There's a lot that it has to offer."

In addition to Santa Maria, other free performances are held in Solvang, Santa Barbara, Ojai, Ventura and Oxnard.

Performers include members of the company's Chrisman Studio Artist Residency Program, who are

"The singers for today's performance are four of our studio artists," Benes said. "They are in residence with us for an entire year and they go up and down the coast performing free concerts."

Benes added part of the goal of the special outreach program is to attract patrons who have never before experienced a live opera performance.

"We want new audiences to be able to discover the art form. Opera is multi-faceted," said Benes. "There is singing, and it's often in another language, but there's subtitles for every performance in English, so anyone can understand and it involves costumes and singing and stage craft, so it's very much like a musical theater piece. This is an art form that's been going on for over 400 years and has really beautiful music and stories that are still relevant today."

Opera Santa Barbara will perform Il Postino (The Postman) at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara on March 7-8.

A free bus ride from Santa Maria and Solvang to the Lobero Theatre is being offered for the March 8th performance.

Tickets for the show must be purchased.

For more information, visit

Article Topic Follows: Lifestyle

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