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VENTURA COUNTY WEEKEND | BEST BETS

May 09, 1996

FRIDAY: NIGHT AT THE OPERA

The Guild Opera Company, the second-oldest opera group in California, will stage an English-language version of Mozart's "The Magic Flute" at Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza Auditorium, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd. Noted singer-director Heinz Blankenburg will lead the fully staged professional production--including local performers--with chamber orchestra accompaniment. The troupe was founded in 1949 to produce opera geared toward young audiences. Show time: 8 p.m. Tickets: $18-$25. For more information, or to order tickets, call 449-2787.

SATURDAY: MARIACHI LINEUP

Los Camperos de Nati Cano, one of the region's best-known mariachi groups, will headline the sixth annual Mariachi Festival at the Oxnard Performing Arts Center. The colorful program will also feature Mariachi Espuelas de Mexico de Plaza Galibaldi, Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles, Mariachi Juvenil Azteca de Camarillo, guests artists Gloria Maria, Juan Francisco Madrigal, and a folklorico dance group as part of a Mother's Day serenade.

The concert begins at 2 p.m. Satisfaction Unlimited will perform for a dinner-dance starting at 6:30 p.m. Admission for the concert, dinner and dance is $55 per person. Tickets for concert only are $35 or $25. The Performing Arts Center is at 800 Hobson Way. For reservations or for more information, call the box office, 486-2424.

AHEAD: TRIBUTE TO SCREENWRITER

Advance notice: The Ojai Film Society will pay special tribute on May 19 to the late Michael Wilson, acclaimed screenwriter and one of Hollywood's infamous "blacklisted" filmmakers deemed "dangerously subversive" by the House Un-American Activities Committee during the McCarthy era. The event will include a 4:30 p.m. screening of Wilson's blacklisted "Salt of the Earth" (1954)--a groundbreaking human rights film, now a cult favorite, dealing with the quest for social justice--and a gala dinner at Wheeler Hot Springs.

Special guest speakers will include the film's producer Paul Jarrico, plus writer-producer Michael Shapiro and Wilson's wife, Zelma Wilson, who will also be honored.

The Wilsons lived in Ojai before going to live in exile in France in 1954 so Michael could pursue his derailed career. In 1964, the pair returned to Ojai, where Zelma still resides. Michael Wilson, who died in 1978, has received posthumous awards, including an Oscar, for his work on "Bridge on the River Kwai," "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Friendly Persuasion."

"Salt of the Earth" was financed by the International Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Union, which was expelled by a forerunner of the AFL-CIO when leaders refused to sign anti-Communist statements.

The reservation deadline for the 7:45 p.m. dinner is Friday. (A cocktail hour will commence at 6:45 p.m.) The gala dinner is $30. Reservations for the screening may be made by May 17. Screening tickets: $6.50, $4 senior citizens and students 18 and under, $1 film society members. For reservations and more information, call 646-8946.

UP THE COAST

* The Santa Barbara Harbor Festival takes place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. Held at the Santa Barbara Harbor, between Stearns Wharf and the marina, the annual homage to boating will include marine exhibits, free harbor tours, yacht tours, children's programs, live entertainment and more. The USS Geary, a Navy frigate, will be anchored close by for free tours. Admission is free. Call 656-3666.

* The Santa Barbara Zoo, 500 Ninos Drive, will host Mother's Day festivities Sunday that will include a 2:30 p.m. performance of Camille Saint-Saens "Carnival of Animals" by the Bach Camerata. The zoo will be adorned with hundreds of pieces of artwork created for the day by children from schools in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Beginning at noon, entertainment will also include a performance by the Santa Barbara Music and Arts Conservatory Jazz Band and others. Festivities are free with regular zoo admission. Call 962-6310.

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