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GOINGS ON SANTA BARBARA : Town Tenor : Opera star Gary Lakes once studied at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara.


Although operatic tenor Gary Lakes hails from Texas, some folks in Santa Barbara think of him as the "hometown boy" who made good.

Lakes once studied at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara with French baritone Martial Singher. Now he has an international reputation as a bona fide heldentenor and champion of the great romantic tenor roles.

He will return to Santa Barbara on Wednesday to perform at the Lobero Theatre. The program includes Handel's "Deeper and Deeper Still"; "Waft Her, Angels," a recitative and aria from "Jephtha"; and "Where'er You Walk," an aria from "Semele." Also included are Beethoven's "An die Ferne Geliebte," Op. 98, and Berlioz's "Nature Immense" from "La Damnation de Faust." Pieces by Strauss, Deparc, Donaudy and Hughes are also on the program.

In addition to performing in such operas as Bizet's "Carmen," Saint-Saens' "Samson et Dalila" and Wagner's "Die Walkure," Lakes has made a few albums. He won a Grammy award in 1989 in the best opera recording category for "Die Walkure," and another in 1988 for Strauss' "Ariadne auf Naxos."

And this from a 6-foot-4-inch, almost 300-pound man who had planned to play football until he cracked a vertebra in a high school game. But he liked to sing, so Lakes entered college as a music major. From there he studied with William Eddy, whom he paid by earning money as a bouncer and a singing waiter. These days, Lakes' singing career is keeping him booked solid a couple of years in advance.

Tickets for the 8 p.m. Lobero show are $19 and $17; 963-0761.

Don Messick, the voice behind many Saturday morning cartoon favorites, will narrate a production of "Peter and the Wolf," 2:30 and 7 p.m. Sunday at the Lobero Theatre. Included in the cast are Boo Boo Bear, Pape Smurf and Scooby Doo starring as the Big Bad Wolf. Ticvkets range from $5.75 to $12.75. Call 963-0761.

Also at the Lobero, the film "Argentina--Land of Passion" will be shown Tuesday at 2 and 8 p.m. Argentina is home to 32 million people of predominantly European descent living in a country larger than all of Western Europe.

Covering the sun-drenched coast to the snow-capped mountains, the film includes views of the famous Iguacu Falls, the Andes and artisans painting porcelain in Bariloche.

Tickets are $6.50, 963-0761.

Friday is the last day to register for the Monarch Madness trip sponsored by the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

Thousands of monarch butterflies gather along the California coast for the winter months. Museum naturalists will lead two trips to the local clustering site at Ellwood Grove in Goleta. The first excursion is at noon on Sunday, Jan. 13; the other is at 3 p.m. Monday, Jan. 14.

The trip is appropriate for all ages. The cost for adults is $10, children are $5. Refreshments are included. 682-4711, Ext. 315.

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