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.


Flutist-vocalist Nathalie Joachim hosts and performs in Cal Performances at Home’s special New Year’s Eve program. (Courtesy of Nathalie Joachim)

A musical good-riddance sendoff: Cal Performances at Home, which has been entertaining and soothing us throughout its benighted 2020 fall season with theater, jazz, chamber music and recital events on our screens, has been gathering multiple special offerings from its participating artists for a New Year’s Eve extravaganza. Among those kissing the bad old year goodbye with us will be pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, the Tetzlaff Quartet, vocalist Julia Bullock and the amazing young jazz pianist Matthew Whitaker and his quartet. The program, hosted by vocalist/flutist Nathalie Joachim, will be available from 2 a.m. Dec. 31 through 4 a.m. Jan. 2 to give people from around the world access – so tell all your friends who live abroad. You can register for tickets, $15-$60, at calperformances.org/at-home or by calling (510) 642-9988.


Soprano Maya Kherani, tenor Carlos Enrique Santelli and bass-baritone Nathan Stark take on the personas of New Year’s Eve celebrants at a lively pub in Opera San Jose’s streaming presentation of “The Parting Glass.” (Courtesy of Opera San Jose)

Cheers, skol, slainte and bottoms up! Opera San Jose and some of its favorite artists have hied themselves to a pub (while observing all the necessary precautions) to bring us “The Parting Glass,” a hearty digital program of drinking songs collected from across the world and down through the centuries. Curated by resident bass-baritone Nathan Stark, this booze-fueled celebration will feature baritone Eugene Brancoveanu, tenor Carlos Enrique Santelli, mezzo-soprano Ashley Dixon, soprano Maya Kherani and more taking on the roles of the pub’s piano player, a German regular patron, an English professor, a Russian drunkard, an Italian opera singer and a French wine lover. It streams for free at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 31, but there will be opportunities to purchase extra options to enhance your experience and raise funds for the opera company. We’ll drink to that! RSVP at operasj.org/the-parting-glass or call (408) 437-4450.


SevanKelee Lucky 7 Boult, a Bay Area poet, spoken word artist and musician, is among the performers in a :Mighty queer Virtual Variety Show.” (New Conservatory Theatre Center)

A little bit of everything: San Francisco’s New Conservatory Theatre Center, one of the Bay Area’s primary purveyors of LGBTQ-themed stage works, has a long history of delivering popular holiday shows. This year’s production, streaming through Sunday, features a wide-ranging and eclectic lineup of performers in “A Mighty Queer Virtual Variety Show.” Hosted by popular Bay Area drag performer Dusty Porn and directed by Richard A. Mosqueda, the production includes acts by soul/folk singer/musician Azuah; poet, spoken word artist and musician SevanKelee “Lucky 7” Boult; solo theater artist and comedian Baruch Porras-Hernandez, whose “Love in the Time of Piñatas” was a Bay Area hit last year; dance/theater artist SNJV, who describes his artistic foundation as a cross between Bollywood and American pop culture; and Joey the Tiger, an aerialist and circus arts performer who cut his teeth at the San Francisco Circus Center. Access is pay-what-you-wish, with a suggested minimum of $10; a $40 purchase comes with bonus video content. There are also meal and drink kits for sale. Go to www.nctcsf.org.


Mike McShane is Ebenezer Scrooge in San Francisco Mime Troupe’s “Red Carol.” (Karen Samski/San Francisco Mime Troupe)

Ebenezer Marx?: Leave it to the left-leaning folks at the San Francisco Mime Troupe to take a story like “A Christmas Carol” — in which a miserly capitalist is shown the error of his ways — and tug it in an even more politically progressive direction. That’s what you get with “A Red Carol,” a “working-class take” on Dickens’ classic holiday tale. But don’t worry, the 61-year-old, Tony Award-winning stage company is more interested in entertaining you than drowning you in dogma. “A Red Carol,” adapted and directed by Michael Gene Sullivan and presented as a radio play, also features labor songs and the auditory antics of a 10-person cast consisting of Mime Troupe regulars. It’s available for streaming through Jan. 17. The suggested donation is $20. Go to www.sfmt.org.


Pink Martini is streaming a New Year’s Eve show titled “Good Riddance 2020!.” (Courtesy of Pink Martini)

Ring out the old: Pink Martini, the Portland, Oregon, big band with a big attitude, is presenting a New Year’s Eve show that reminds us that this year has, well, sucked. Titled “Good Riddance 2020!,” the streaming show is a concert filmed at the Pink Martini headquarters festively decorated with, among other things, a 35-foot Christmas tree. The full band with lead singer China Forbes will be on hand along with such guest artists as former Bay Area singer Storm Large, NPR host Ari Shapiro, singer-guitarist Edna Vazquez, singer Jimmie Herrod, singer Sofia von Trapp and others. Expect to hear Pink Martini’s greatest hits and fan favorites — that is, a high-energy mix of classical, pop and jazz standards delivered with PM’s trademark Grade-A musicianship and a sizable amount of sass. The family-friendly show can be streamed at 6 p.m. Thursday (PST) or at 9 p.m. Paris time (if you are so inclined). Access costs $15-$20, and you can purchase several Pink Martini swag items, including special stocking stuffers, to get a jump on next year’s holiday shopping. You can stream the show at the website of the Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center; livermorearts.org.