The members of the 2019 class of the Merola Opera Program, gathered here on the steps of the War Memorial Opera House foyer, will strut their stuff at a gala concert there on Aug. 17. (Photo by Kristen Loken)

The Bay Area is a hub of artistic expression, attracting artists, writers and musicians from around the globe to live, work and create. We highlight some of the offerings here.

• The meritorious Merolini: The 29 aspiring young opera stars in the Merola Opera apprenticeship program administered by San Francisco Opera gather on the War Memorial stage Saturday night for their last grand night of singing for the summer. Their concert, designed to be a showcase for their emerging talent, will include arias, duets and ensembles by Mozart, Strauss, Donizetti, Dvorak, Bellini, Barber, Poulenc and Verdi. The great fun of the evening is in deciding who YOU think has the best shot at becoming the next Luciano Pavarotti or Renee Fleming. 7:30 p.m. Aug. 17; 301 Van Ness, San Francisco; $25-$50; 415-864-3330,

• Ya want fries with that?: Whether you’re a Whopper lover or a Big Mac muncher — or even if your stomach turns at the thought of drive-in food — you might want to ride along with Adam Chandler through the pages of his “Drive-Thru Dreams: A Journey Through the Heart of America’s Fast-Food Kingdom” (Flatiron Books, $27.99, 288 pages). Chandler’s well-researched, breezily written book, full of surprises, is at least a partial defense of the industry that White Castle launched in Wichita, Kansas, in 1921. It is replete with facts and anecdotes, such as how Taco Bell’s airlifting 10,000 tacos to the tiny, isolated town of Bethel, Alaska, in 2012 saved its Independence Day celebration. Chandler reads from the book at 3 p.m. Aug. 17 at Book Passage’s Ferry Building outlet in San Francisco.

The Rolling Stones will take the stage Aug. 18 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. (Photo courtesy of The Rolling Stones)

• The Rolling Stones: We know, it’s a Sunday night and you’d have to deal with all the stadium traffic, but c’mon people, the quintessential badass rock band’s Aug. 18 show at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara could be their last gig in these parts, and singer Mick Jagger has come back from freaking heart surgery to make this show, so go ahead and make the effort. Plus, recent reviews suggest Jagger and the band are in good form and dropping some surprise selections into their setlist. The show starts at 7:30 p.m.; tickets start at $95 at

• Woodstock: And while we’re on the subject of geezer rock ‘n’ roll, this week marks the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock Music & Art Fair, the watershed rock music festival that, depending on your view of things, either unleashed the full creative force of the counterculture movement or ruined America forever (we report, you decide). In any event, the city of Concord ( and Berkeley’s storied Ashkenaz nightclub ( are both hosting weekend-long Woodstock-themed concerts, and Fathom Events is screening Michael Wadleigh’s Oscar-nominated 1970 documentary “Woodstock” (the 3-hour, 44-minute director’s cut) at theaters across the country at 7 p.m. Aug. 15; you can get tickets ($12.50) and find the schedule at

• Brian Copeland and Charlie Varon: Two of the very best monologuists the Bay Area has to offer are joining forces on a show so bold we can’t even print its full name. It’s called “The Great American Sh*t Show” and we feel compelled to point out that those who endorse the thoughts and actions of President Donald Trump will likely want to skip this one. Everyone else will probably laugh their a** off. Copeland and Varon bring their show to San Jose, Castro Valley and San Rafael this week; tickets and schedule are at