Local News Matters Arts & Entertainment newsletter

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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.

• A final farewell: The San Francisco Symphony is winding up its monthlong tribute to outgoing music director Michael Tilson Thomas with a blowout virtual celebration on its YouTube channel hosted by Broadway star Audra McDonald and famed mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, longtime favorites at Davies Hall, and mounds of performance events from the symphony’s voluminous archives. Dubbed “MTT25” for the conductor’s years of service on the podium, the streamed event takes place at 5 p.m. June 28 and will also feature personal anecdotes and appearance by other guest artists, including Lars Ulrich, Bonnie Raitt, Yo-Yo Ma, Renée Fleming, Measha Brueggergosman and, we are told, “many surprises.” Send your RSVP at https://www.sfsymphony.org/MTT25 to receive a link to the webcast 24 hours ahead of time. 


• Speaking of Pride … : Fiddles, banjos and mandolins may not be the first things that come to mind when you’re thinking of quintessential Pride anthems, but bluegrass/Americana musicians have a tight bond with the LGBTQ community. A host of bluegrass concerts were slated across the country this year in affiliation with Pride weekend, but those have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, you can enjoy Porch Pride: A Bluegrass Pride Queer-antine Festival, which will be livestreamed from 1-6 p.m., June 26-27. Performers include Bay Area native Molly Tuttle, fiddler Rachel Eddy, Oakland bassist/fiddler Noa Laniakea and renowned singer/guitarist Amythyst Kiah. You’ll find the performances at bluegrasspride.net; the suggested donation is $10 per day. 


Jacki Weaver stars in “Stage Mother,” one of the online offerings from the Frameline44 Pride Showcase. (Photo courtesy of Frameline44 Pride Showcase)

• Don’t forget Frameline: June 27-28 would have been S.F. Pride weekend, but all the live events have been canceled, which means there will be a lot less spirit, love and unity (not to mention about 1 million fewer people) in the city Saturday and Sunday. S.F. Pride has scheduled online programming this weekend instead (find it at https://sfpride.org). Likewise, Frameline, arguably the nation’s preeminent LGBTQX film festival, has been postponed from this weekend with plans to return in the fall. In the meantime, the festival has released nearly two dozen feature films, documentaries and short-film packages for streaming June 25-28. Offerings run from “Parade,” a documentary about S.F.’s first Pride Parade, in 1970; “Ahead of the Curve” a documentary about the groundbreaking Oakland lesbian magazine Curve (which will be shown online as well as at a Concord drive-in theater on June 27) and “Stage Mother,” a comedy starring two-time Oscar nominee Jacki Weaver as a devout Texas Christian who inherits a San Francisco drag club. There’s a virtual closing party on June 28. Most screenings cost $9-$10; the drive-in screening costs $24-$25; go to www.frameline.org for tickets and more information.


• No hi-ho silver, but: OK, when the music kicks into its highest gear, you’re going to think you’re about to see an episode of “The Lone Ranger,” but it’s really handsome Italian conductor Michele Mariotti leading the Rossini Opera Festival orchestra through the heart-pounding, trumpet-driven final gallop that closes the overture to “William Tell.” Rossini’s final opera, set on the shores of Lake Lucerne in 13th century Switzerland, is a tale of passion and patriotism, and yes, there is a scene where Tell the archer is forced to shoot an apple off the head of his young son. The 2013 production, sung in French, stars baritone Nicola Alaimo in the title role, the incredibly gifted Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez in the romantic role of Arnaldo and soprano Marina Rebeka as Arnaldo’s star-crossed lover. The opera, all four-hours-plus of it, is available for free livestreaming through July 7 at https://operavision.eu/en/library/performances/operas/guillaume-tell-rossini-opera-festival.


Gwendoline Christie stars in the National Theatre of London’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” (Photo courtesy of the National Theatre)

Ah, Love: Two intriguing streaming opportunities await the romantically inclined this week. First, the National Theatre of London’s acclaimed production of Shakespeare’s beloved romantic comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” starring none other than Gwendoline Christie (aka the mighty Brienne of Tarth from TV’s “Game of Thrones”) will stream June 25-July 2 at the Hammer Theatre Center of San Jose’s website, hammertheatre.com. Also, Smuin Ballet is offering a recorded version of its West Coast premiere of Stanton Welch’s “Indigo,” which follows four couples falling in and out of love. It’s set to Vivaldi’s Cello Concerto in B minor and Cello Concerto in G minor. Go to smuinballet.org to learn how to access the production, which will be available June 24-26. Both productions are free, but, as always, donations are greatly appreciated and go to the performers, venues and arts companies that are reeling from the pandemic-induced shutdown of live arts in the Bay Area and elsewhere.