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 blast of the Big Easy: Maybe it’s just us, but something seems so right about a concert featuring two New Orleans jazz/R&B legends being staged on a July 4th weekend. SFJazz Center’s weekly streamed “Fridays at Five” concert series is serving up just that, with a performance featuring the late singer/songwriter/producer Allen Toussaint and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Friday’s show is taken from a 2014 SFJazz Center concert that marked one of Toussaint’s final performances. The streaming production will include never-before-seen footage of that show, SFJazz says. Tune into www.sfjazz.org by 5 p.m. July 3 for the show. You need to be a SFJazz digital subscriber to access the concert, which costs $5 a month.


• Oh, ‘Susannah’: A naive young woman endowed with innate and innocent sensuality has her life destroyed by the hysterics of an overly righteous preacher and his hypocritical mob of a congregation. That may not sound like the stuff of opera, but it most certainly is. American composer Carlisle Floyd’s “Susannah,” a 1955-vintage work set in rural Tennessee and loosely based on the biblical tale of Susannah and the Elders, is this weekend’s offering in the Opera Is ON! streaming project from San Francisco Opera. It’s full of square dance and folk tunes and features a gorgeous aria for the soprano in the title role. The company’s 2014 staging, a co-production with Lyric Opera of Chicago and Houston Grand Opera, starred Patricia Racette as Susannah, tenor Brandon Jovanovich as her brother Sam and bass Raymond Aceto as the villainous Rev. Olin Blitch. Check out www.sfopera.com at 10 a.m. July 4. It will be available for free streaming until midnight the following day, but do consider making a donation. 


Not going silent: In a normal year, the July 4th weekend would be when the Tony Award-winning San Francisco Mime Troupe would premiere its new summer play — a silly, left-leaning blast of broad-stroke theater — which it would then present at parks and outdoor venues well into the fall. That’s obviously not happening this year, but the troupe is hardly taking the summer off. On July 4, head to the group’s website — www.sfmt.org — where you can catch the first installment of a series of radio plays collectively titled “Tales of the Resistance.” There will be four two-act plays — one action/adventure, one horror, one sci-fi and one noir mystery — which will be streamed on a rotating schedule through mid-October, when a final chapter will resolve all four plays. So all summer, you’ll be able to hear the troupe, but not see them, which, when you think about it, is about as un-mime as you can get. But these performers have never been about following rules. The troupe also plans to soon begin streaming a performance of its 2015 Black Lives Matter-themed show “Freedomland”; details on that are TBA.


• A little bit of Ludwig: Virtually join 34 members of the Orange County-based Pacific Symphony as they and conductor Carl St. Clair take us through an enthusiastically delivered performance of the rousing first movement of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, the one that justifiably bears the nickname “The Dance.” All of them are playing from their homes, using a previously recorded version of theirs from a December concert as their guide, and the presentation is a constantly moving mosaic that captures and builds upon the sheer energy of the piece. It’s available now, and the orchestra promises some more “quarantine clips” in the future. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PDIhIr-BAQ&feature=youtu.be.


“Les Blancs,” Lorraine Hansberry’s final play, will be streamed on the Hammer Theatre Center of San Jose’s website on July 2-9 as part of the National Theatre at Home series. (Image courtesy of the National Theatre of London)

• Black and white: “Les Blancs” was Lorraine Hansberry’s final play and one of her most controversial works. Completed posthumously by her ex-husband Robert B. Nemiroff, it debuted on Broadway in 1970 and was panned. Featuring a strong amount of African music and dance, the play focuses on a man who returns to his home in Africa to bury his father and gets drawn into his homeland’s rebellion against its colonial oppressors. The play includes some of Hansberry’s most forceful writing about racial oppression and the nature of rebellion. It was revived in an acclaimed 2016 National Theatre of London production helmed by famed South African theater director Yaël Farber. And now you can watch a recorded version of that production, part of the National Theatre at Home series. It’s being streamed July 2-9 at Hammer Theatre Center of San Jose’s website, hammertheatre.com. The production is free, but donations are much appreciated.