Friday, November 16 , 2018, 4:25 am | Fair 47º


Santa Barbara Symphony Concert is ‘Bellissima’

A near full house at the Granada greets the performance with enthusiasm — and a standing ovation

Probably no traveler has ever voyaged to Italy and come away unscathed — certainly not Berlioz or Mendelssohn or Tchaikovsky.

Thus the Santa Barbara Symphony, opening its inaugural season at The Granada this past weekend, recalled their journeys in a “Festa Iraliana.” The orchestra’s Israeli-Italian conductor, Nir Kabaretti, also drew on some opera sugarplums from Italian composers Rossini, Verdi and Puccini, to round out the program.

The Granada has proved to be a perfect acoustic and aesthetic fit for the orchestra; it sounded splendid. Sunday’s audience, just about a full house, greeted each selection with enthusiasm.

Hector Berlioz’s “The Roman Carnival, Op. 9” was the rousing first piece. Berlioz built it around themes from his “Benvenuto Cellini,” a resounding flop in its first incarnation. He molded the new overture from the salvageable bits and it remains one of his most popular works to this day. The orchestra played it with becoming brio.

The Berlioz was followed by the Symphony No. 4 in A major, Op. 90, “Italian,” by Felix Mendelssohn. It has been said that Mendelssohn had everything: genius, wealth, good looks and public adoration for his music. Everything but a long life. Fortunately, in his brief 38 years he traveled widely and fell in love with Italy. One result was this symphony in four movements. The orchestra gave it a spirited reading.

After intermission, Maestro Kabaretti spoke briefly, reminding the audience of all the pleasures Italy has given the world, opera and food being two of the greatest. He uttered the words “pasta” and “gelato” and the audience laughed heartily.

Then he led the symphony through three opera selections, the Overture to “La Italiana in Algeri” by Gioacchino Rossini, the Overture to “La Forza del Destino” by Guiseppi Verdi, and the Intermezzo to Act III of “Manon Lescaut” by Giacomo Puccini.

The Verdi is dramatic and laden with doom. It is meant as a somber preview of the tragedy to come, and nobody has ever done thatn kind of thing better than Verdi.

Puccini’s “Manon Lescaut” is, to my thinking, one of the loveliest and most touching of his operas. The Intermezzo is particularly moving, especially when the cellos recall the imprisonment of poor doomed Manon and the ardor of her lover, Des Grieux. Here, principal cellist Geoffrey Rutkowski played a brief but haunting solo line.

The first of these opera numbers was Rossini’s “Italian Girl” overture. It is almost too familiar, although given a jolly reading by the Symphony.

As for the final work, Pyotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky’s “Capriccio Italien,” it has definitely crossed over to warhorse territory.

Tchaikovsky left the bitter cold of Russia to sample the sunny delights of Italy, and of course came home as smitten as everybody else. So warhorse it may be, but the audience loved it, and gave it a typical Santa Barbara standing ovation at the end of the concert.

Margo Kline covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.