Sea turtle speaker Dr. Charles Caillouet, speaking about the sea turtle, will be the guest at the April meeting of the East Texas Herpetological Society. Caillouet will discuss the National Marine and Fisheries Service's current sea turtle research program in Galveston. People are wondering if the hatchling relocation programs are working -- especially people who've worked the beaches on spring dawns, netting the hatchlings moments after they hit the surf and carefully placing the silver-dollar-size babies in containers, where they'll be raised safely before their release. The theory: if the tiny baby turtles first put their webbed feet in the sand of a particular beach, they'll be imprinted, and no matter where they're released and meet mates, the adult female turtles will return to that beach to lay their eggs. Do they? Caillouet's program will cover the creatures' habits, ecology and future prospects.
This program should be fun for turtle fans who watch the Discovery Channel and especially for those who've been lucky enough to see adult Ridleys in the Gulf. Sea turtles swim the way land turtles walk -- with an unhurried, lumbering rhythm. 7:30 p.m. Houston Zoological Gardens Educational Building, 100 yards to the left of the main entrance. For more details call 446-8588. Free.
La Traviata Houston Grand Opera promises this will be HGO's "most sumptuous Traviata yet!" Quite a claim to live up to. Even the second production, done in 1961 in the Music Hall, was a bang-up affair with set pieces that were bigger than real castles and with dazzling, extravagant costumes to make Mardi Gras look like a high school Halloween party.
HGO also suggests that this might be the ticket for opera virgins. The story is tragic -- resplendent with weeping and wailing and threats and even selfless nobility from the fallen woman. The tunes are hummable, and many are manageable for a good whistler. The sets and costumes go over the top. Verdi, to distance himself and audiences from the salacious story, set the action earlier than his own time (which was the mid-19th century); La Traviata is set in the flowery time of Louis XIV. Isn't that Romantic?
La Traviata is based on the play La Dame aux Camelias, by Dumas fils, about a consumptive courtesan. She should be familiar, at the very least, from the 1937 MGM film with Greta Garbo.
Another plus, for first-time operagoers and mavens alike, is the "Scala Diva" exhibit on display in the Wortham foyer. This photo exhibit chronicling life backstage at Teatro alla Scala, Italy's premier opera house, has never been shown in America.
One more note for neophytes: La Traviata is sung in Italian, but HGO productions have surtitles. Opens tonight at 7:30. Thru May 1. Wortham Center, Brown Theater, 500 Texas Avenue, 227-ARTS. $15-$70.
Great Texas Beach Trash-off There are nasty wicked vile unwholesome people who do mess with Texas. What can you do? Lend a hand in the Great Texas Beach Trash-off. Volunteers not only improve our shores but also contribute to environmental research. Texas General Land Office Commissioner Gary Mauro says, "Texas shore could use your help" -- a reasonable, albeit corny, call to arms. To spend three hours making Texas coasts a better place, call (800) 85-BEACH. 9 a.m.-noon.
Let 'er Rip Another reason to go to Galveston: insane giggling and squeals of delight from the audience and from the big blond onstage. Rip Taylor, recently seen in Home Alone 2, brings his wacky, zany, confetti-throwing stage act to the Gulf shore. Taylor was a prop comic when prop comedy was cool (before hacks like Carrot Top wandered onstage carting trunks of glued-together garbage). Always a trooper, Rip Taylor sang on Broadway in several shows, he has worked with all the great ones, and now here he is at the Grand. 8 p.m. The Grand 1894 Opera House, 2020 Postoffice, Galveston, (409) 765-1894. $15-$30.
Redneck alert Jeff Foxworthy, God's own cracker, is quite a prolific author. He's got five books on the shelves in the Sniglets section of your local bookstore; You Might Be a Redneck If... is the best known. The redneck shtick, which is not the whole of his act, is what Foxworthy is a little bit famous for, and it will be, no doubt, a key element in his new (as yet un-named) sitcom. Tonight Foxworthy presents his down-home friendly and extremely successful stand-up show at the Bayou City Theatre.