Opera Santa Barbara has launched a new initiative focused taking opera out of the theater and into the community.
The James Irvine Foundation has awarded a grant to Opera Santa Barbara to fund the new position of community engagement manager. Soprano Kristen Reed has been appointed to this position, and has spent the last six months establishing partnerships with businesses and organizations all over Santa Barbara, including the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, The Arts Fund, MichaelKate Interiors & Art Gallery, the Santa Barbara Art Foundry & Gallery, Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant, Scarlett Begonia and Salt Cave Santa Barbara.
“I am passionate about making opera accessible to a wider audience,” Reed said. “This is such a great opportunity to break down barriers of an art form that seems a mystery to many people and showcase it in some favorite local venues.”
“It has long been a dream of mine to bring the glory of opera to unexpected venues in our community,” General Director Steven Sharpe said. “We hope this initiative will encourage community members to step into the theater and enjoy a fully-staged opera performance.”
Following are some of the events planned in the coming months:
Demystifying Opera at MichaelKate
Friday, Feb. 21, 5:30 p.m., MichaelKate Interiors, 132 Santa Barbara St.
This event will feature a performance by mezzo-soprano Catherine Cook followed by a panel discussion with OSB artistic director Jose Maria Condemi (who will be stage directing the current production of Falstaff), conductor Francesco Milioto and moderator James Donelan, Ph.D. General admission to this event is $25 and students pay $10, and tickets can be purchased by calling Opera Santa Barbara at 805.898.3890.
Falstaff Frill & Folly
Wednesday, Feb. 26, 6 to 9 p.m., Santa Barbara Foundry & Gallery, 120 Santa Barbara St.
This event will feature an evening of art, opera and indulgence in the Funk Zone. Guests will enjoy a progressive feast, starting at the The Arts Fund of Santa Barbara for appetizers and a talk with the artists and ending at the Santa Barbara Foundry & Gallery where they will enjoy a three-course Falstaff-inspired feast featuring performances by members of the cast of the upcoming performance of Verdi’s Falstaff. Tickets to this event are $100 and can be purchased by calling the Art Foundry at 805.324.4230.
Opera Book Club
Monday, March 3, 6 p.m., Granada Books, 1224 State St.
Guests will discus celebrated novelist and poet Robert Nye’s novel Falstaff, A Novel. In this “tell all” award-winning novel, Falstaff remains the ever boastful lothario of his youth, whose comical prattling recounts moments of grandeur, explicit conquests of women, and intimate details of some of Shakespeare’s famous characters. The evening will include a wine and cheese reception. Books are available for purchase at Granada Books or by calling 805.845.1818.
Pop Up Opera at the Museum of Art
Thursday, March 6, 5:30 p.m., Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1130 State St.
Opera Santa Barbara is thrilled to present a free “Pop Up Opera” performance in the McCormick gallery of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art on First Thursday in March. This concert will pay tribute to SBMA’s current photography exhibition: Heavenly Bodies. Soprano Sarah Duchovnay and tenor Sergio Gonzalez will perform classical repertoire inspired by the celestial bodies of the sun, moon, and stars. Be sure not to miss this wonderful pairing of opera and art. Admission is free to the public.
— Steven Sharpe is general director of Opera Santa Barbara.