“How did Natoma Avenue get its name?”
by Abby Lindros
This street, near Santa Barbara’s West Beach, is named after what has been called the “first American grand opera.” In 1909, composer Victor Herbert approached San Francisco attorney Joseph Redding to come up with a theme for a new opera. The result was Natoma: The Maid from the Mountains, an opera in three acts set in Santa Barbara in the early 1800s, when Alta California was under Spanish governance.
Victor Herbert, an Irish native, became one of this country’s greatest composers of light operas. His best-known works were Babes in Toyland, made famous by a film version with Laurel and Hardy, and Naughty Marietta, the movie that made stars out of the romantic duo of Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald.