Russian bass Ildar Abdrazakov sang the satanic title role in San Francisco Opera's production of Boito's "Mefistofele." (Photo courtesy of Cory Weaver/S.F. Opera)

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Local News Matters Arts & Entertainment newsletter

End your week with a bit of culture to unwind and refresh. Sign up for our surprising and inspiring options in our weekly newsletter, delivered on Thursdays with news about Bay Area arts and entertainment.

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

• Up jumped the devil!: San Francisco Opera’s boisterous 2013 production of Arrigo Boito’s “Mefistofele,” starring the brawny, bare-chested Russian bass Ildar Abdrazakov in the title role, begins streaming on the opera’s website on May 9. It’s based on the famed Faust legend, with His Satanic Essence vowing to win the soul of the ambitious but impoverished scholar. Tenor Ramón Vargas sings the role of the tempted scholar Faust, and soprano Patricia Racette also stars in a dual role. It’s a continuation of the San Francisco company’s Opera is ON project, which will also present, in coming weeks, Bellini’s “I Capuleti e i Montecchi,” Jake Heggie’s “Moby-Dick” and Donizetti’s “Lucrezia Borgia.” Tune it in for free at www.sfopera.com at 10 a.m., and it will be available on the site through midnight Sunday. Here’s a teaser: https://youtu.be/SitShNmDkpE


• Paging all books fans: A new campaign to benefit Bay Area bookstores is serving up weekly author appearances and literary events. It’s called #WeLoveBookstores and its series of events returns at noon May 8 with a poetry reading featuring Daveed Diggs, Robin Coste Lewis, Danez Smith, Chinaka Hodge, Tongo Eisen-Martin and more, to benefit Marcus Books in Oakland, said to be the oldest independent black bookstore in the U.S. Future events include authors Mary Roach and Emily Anthes reading to benefit Moe’s Books in Berkeley on May 13, and Kate Messner, Sarah Kuhn and Shannon Doleski reading to benefit Hicklebee’s Children’s Books in San Jose (all events start at noon). The readings are free, but donations are encouraged and proceeds benefit the designated bookstore. Go to welovebookstores.org to see a schedule and find out how to register.


• Let’s tour Ol’ Blue Eyes’ pad: We know you can’t realistically travel to Palm Springs for a spring break now, but you can go virtually, courtesy of Modernism Week’s Man About Modernism online tours, hosted by Stephen Collins. And best of all, he can take you on a narrated, info-packed tour of Frank Sinatra’s house in Twin Palms, designed by E. Stewart Williams in 1947, with a famous, piano-shaped swimming pool, and inhabited by the singer for much of the 1950s. You’re gonna learn all kinds of interesting tidbits, such as what Frank hoisted up the flagpole to let neighbors know when the cocktail hour had arrived. You’ll hit many of the rooms, but keep an eyeball peeled for a singular chandelier.  It kind of looks like — eek! — the coronavirus.  Find the fascinating tour at https://youtu.be/14Giz_AO-CI.


Longtime Bay Area performer/comedian Marga Gomez is among the performers you can view at The Mash’s website, which hosts a wide variety of streaming content. (Photo by Fabian Echevarria, courtesy of Marga Gomez)

• The Marsh marches along: The Marsh theaters in San Francisco and Berkeley are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, depriving the Bay Area of its best-known venues devoted to the unique art of solo theater performance. But all is not lost. Head to The Marsh website — themarsh.org — and you’ll discover a treasure chest of video content, with new streaming content arriving almost daily. Among the artists you can view are Marga Gomez, Robert Townsend, Don Reed and Josh Kornbluth, who hosts a game night every Friday. All the content is free, but donations — which benefit the venues and performers — are encouraged.


• Streaming ballet: Add San Francisco Ballet to the list of arts organizations posting free streaming content on their websites. Go to www.sfballet.org/sf-ballet-home through May 8 and you’ll find a video capturing the company’s performance of rising-star choreographer Edwaard Liang’s dramatic “The Infinite Ocean.” The works, says the company on its website, “hovers in the space between life and death, when spirits must let go of whatever ties them to the physical world.” From May 8-15, the company says it will offer a taped performance of artistic director Helgi Tomasson’s acclaimed adaptation of “Romeo & Juliet.” All content is free.