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The Opera Santa Barbara Puccini Festival begins with Tosca on Saturday, February 18 and runs through March 5 at the Lobero Theatre. To get a feel for what to expect, we shot five important questions to Tosca director James Marvel (JM) and to Cindy Sadler (CS), who is making her OSB debut in Gianni Schicchi. For more info, call 898-3890.

{1} How’s the venue? “We enjoy a real intimacy with the audience at the Lobero because it’s relatively small, and it’s very different from opera in a big hall. I did Carmen once in a room with only 100 seats, and when I got stabbed and died not 10 feet from these people, and kept singing, they loved it. It’s why I love to sing.”  — CS

{2} How are the rehearsals of Tosca going? “My policy is not to go with my idea —  my policy is to go with the best idea.”  — JM

{3} What should we be looking forward to in Gianni Schicchi? “My favorite moment is when David Small (who plays Gianni Schicchi) and I have a screaming, knock-down, drag-out fight. I mean, you think we are going to throw down. And you’re not sure who is going to win.”  — CS

{4} What should we be looking forward to in Tosca? “The murder will be fun.” — JM

{5} What’s the bottom line of the Puccini Festival? “Opera will never die.”  — CS

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