The Santa Barbara Symphony (805/898-9626, www.thesymphony.org) aspires to compete with its brethren in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The symphony orchestra puts up seasons that pay homage to the greatest composers the world has ever seen, plus the works of less-known but equally talented artists. Whether you prefer Mozart or Mahler, you can listen to it at the Granada (1214 State St.) concert hall. Every seat has a great view of the stage, and the acoustics were designed with music in mind, making for an overall great symphony experience.
Opera Santa Barbara (www.operasb.com) has put up such classics as Tosca, Rigoletto, and Madama Butterfly. The festival format OSB has used for the last few years lets you take in two operas in a single weekend, if that’s your choice. In fine tradition, OSB enjoys a focus on the classics and little-known works of the Italian masters. Operas are staged at the Lobero Theater (33 E. Canon Perdido St., 805/963-0761, www.lobero.com), a mid-sized space that allows for a more intimate operatic experience than those you find in larger cities.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition