The opportunity to participate in the cultural history of Santa Barbara and enjoy music productions in a historical atmosphere at the same time makes for a unique event. When this happens, there is an added dimension when going to the theatre. The Lobero Theatre is such a place, being California’s oldest continuously operating theater, presenting shows, live music, opera, films, and concerts. Being involved in a thrilling cultural event is something to be relished. It is worthwhile to experience the history of Santa Barbara’s Lobero Theatre.
The Lobero Theatre History
The Lobero Theatre occupies a historic place in Santa Barbara’s culture. In 1873, an Italian immigrant Jose Lobero, a cultured man, refurbished an adobe school building into an opera house. Found within the ‘Presidio Neighborhood,’ it shares the historical and cultural area with El Presidio State Park and The Santa Barbara Historical Museum. Exploring the neighborhood will put visitors on a path to discover hidden walkways, courtyards, and impressive architectural details. This district is the home of The Lobero Theatre.
All buildings become weathered in time. The Lobero Theatre was no exception. By the early 1920s, the old opera house was rebuilt as a theater. Architects George Washington Smith and Lutah Maria Riggs designed the Spanish Colonial Revival style structure. As a testimony to its value as a historical building, in 1939, it was registered as a California Historical Landmark. The recognition kept coming, and in 1981 it was designated a City Landmark.
As time moved on, another renovation project was in order. The focus was on improving the ‘audience experience.’ That meant things being made more comfortable and convenient. The renovators installed new interior temperature control systems and expanded the restroom facilities. They gave attention to ensure comfortable seating and consideration to ADA improvements. They also took care to maintain the theatre’s original acoustical integrity while adjusting to satisfy a broader range of singers, musicians and actors’ acoustical demands.
With the close collaboration between the Lobero Theatre Foundation, Schipper Construction, and KBZ Architects, they completed the project in 2013. As a result, in 2014, it received the Property Award for Historic Revitalization. It is now distinguished as one of Santa Barbara’s architectural jewels and a world-class venue.
The Lobero Theatre Today
What kind of musical experience can be anticipated at the Lobero Theatre today? Over the years, it has hosted various performing artists and has produced numerous local plays, operas, and solo performances. That trend continues. The Lobero LIVE series presents touring artists that focus on genres that are most suitable for the hall’s intimacy and acoustics. Expect to hear chamber music, blues, bluegrass, folk, and jazz. The Lobero Theatre is viewed as one of the world’s best jazz venues by the leading jazz magazine, DownBeat. It also is perfectly suited acoustically for chamber music.
A sampling of scheduled acts for 2021 shows that there is something for everyone:
- An evening with David Crosby (of Crosby, Stills and Nash fame) & the Sky Trails Band listening to soft rock
- La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi for a night at the opera
- The Derek Douget Band or smooth jazz
Everyone involved with The Lobero Theatre works hard to ensure they will provide the community with performing arts and cultural events over 250 days throughout the year.
The opportunity awaits you to partake of the cultural history of Santa Barbara at the Lobero Theatre as well as enjoy the array of musical performances. Fortunately, The Eagle Inn is conveniently located just 1.1 miles from the theatre, a short drive for you to spend a pleasant night listening to top-notch entertainment at this historic venue. It’s just one of many cultural events that are in store for you in Santa Barbara. Make your reservations now and dream about the performances you want to attend on your getaway.