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.
She will adore the toreador! Watch out, Don Jose — that headstrong temptress Carmen is getting ready to work her wiles on you, only to abandon you for the proud bullfighter Escamillo after you have succumbed to her charms and torpedoed your military career. Opera San Jose presents six performances of Bizet’s tragic opera, in a new staging by Lillian Groag that employs the dancers of the Flamenco Society of San Jose to lend some verisimilitude to this story of the passionate Gypsy who treasures her freedom above everything, even love. Conducted by Joseph Marcheso, it opens at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the California Theatre and runs through Feb. 27. Mezzo-soprano Nikola Printz sings the role of the doomed heroine, with tenor Noah Stewart as the besotted Don Jose. Soprano Anne-Marie MacIntosh is the lovelorn Micaëla, and baritone Eugene Brancoveanu struts about as the haughty Escamillo. Tickets, $55-$195, are available at operasj.org or (408) 437-4450.
Recognition overdue: Grammy Award-winning singer Dashon Burton, a member of the adventurous vocal group Roomful of Teeth and a current artist-in-residence with San Francisco Performances, brings his impressive bass-baritone and his knowledge of the repertoire to bear in an “Uncovered” recital for that organization, collaborating with the Catalyst Quartet on a program of music by composers previously neglected because of their race or gender (or both!). Their 7:30 p.m. Friday performance at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco will highlight string quartets by Joseph Bologne, Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges, a mixed-race composer, conductor, violinist and, remarkably, a crack swordsman of 18th century France. Black American composer William Grant Still’s Lyric String Quartette is also on the program, as are works by Florence Price, including some of her art songs as arranged by Burton, who will provide commentary throughout the evening. For tickets, $45-$65, visit sfperformances.org or call (415) 392-2545. Click here for a brief video of Burton performing a work by Gabriel Faure: https://youtu.be/HulQa49XItk.
All hail Hoyle: While solo stage shows are often first-person accounts of an incident or a period of the actor/playwright’s life, there is a subgenre in which the performer acts as a living, breathing documentary. We’re thinking of artists like Anna Deavere Smith (“Fires in the Mirror,” “Twilight: Los Angeles”) or Sarah Jones (“Bridge & Tunnel”), whose solo shows find them portraying roomfuls of characters on the way to addressing larger issues. Which brings us to the Bay Area’s own Dan Hoyle, another big talent in this field. It’s not just that the guy is good at impressions, it’s that he also does the work beforehand, interviewing real people and capturing their thoughts, words and mannerisms so that his stage characters emerge as something deeper than caricatures. It’s a talent that has served him well in shows covering everything from Nigeria’s dirty oil business to red state politics to our overreliance on smartphones. Now comes a new Dan Hoyle show covering a topic about which we all desperately need to know more: white people. More specifically, it asks what, in the era of George Floyd protests, cancel culture, pandemic-enhanced social inequality and Donald Trump, entitled white male liberals can possibly have to say for themselves. “Talk to Your People” debuts Friday at The Marsh in San Francisco, where it plays 7 p.m. Fridays, 5 p.m. Saturdays and 7 p.m. Thursdays (beginning March 3) through April 16. Proof of vaccination is required, and masks must be worn in the theater. Tickets are $25-$100; go to themarsh.org.
All that winter jazz: You have to hand it to San Jose, while other major cities host their music festivals during the nicest times of the year, the capital of the “we’ll do it our way” Silicon Valley dares to stage a jazz festival in the dead of winter. Of course, winter around these parts in the climate change era is as pleasant as the rest of the year. And, oh yeah, San Jose hosts a jazz festival in the summer, too. But let’s not split hairs. At a time when many of us are hungry for live music, San Jose Jazz’s Winter Fest serves up two weeks of it. Running Friday through Feb. 27, the event boasts some 20 concerts and a lineup that ranges from up-and-comers to bonafide legends. Kicking things off Friday is blues/folk/Americana singer-songwriter and guitarist Chris Pierce (and his oh-so-soulful voice). On Saturday, Winter Fest welcomes Hawaiian ukulele wizard Daniel Ho as well as jazz guitarist Mason Razavi and his quintet. The rest of the lineup includes the sublime Bay Area vocalist Tiffany Austin, a nifty pairing of violinist Mads Tolling and singer Kenny Washington, the cutting-edge, socially conscious jazz band Harriet Tubman, rising-star vibraphonist Sasha Berliner and jazz supergroup The Cookers. Shows are held in various San Jose and Stanford venues, with many events taking place in San Jose Jazz’s cool new Break Room club. Most shows cost $25-$35. Proof of vaccination is required at all shows, and masks must be worn inside the venues. You’ll find tickets, a complete schedule and more information at sanjosejazz.org.
Singing for history: The divine Bay Area blues/soul/jazz singer Faye Carol — or the Dynamic Miss Faye Carol, as her stage name goes — is celebrating Black History Month the best way she knows how, with a series of live shows titled “Faye and the Folks.” Each Sunday this month, Carol is performing at Oakland’s historic nightclub Geoffrey’s Inner Circle, and her list of guest stars is darned impressive. On Sunday, she’s performing with the acclaimed New Orleans R&B vocalist Kenny Washington (who also performs at San Jose Jazz’s Winter Fest Feb. 17). On Feb. 20, she’ll team with the All-Star Sextet, featuring all-world trombonist Steve Turre, drummer Dennis Chambers and singer/flutist Elena Pinderhughes. And on Feb. 27, she’ll perform with a gospel music legend, the pedal steel guitarist Robert Randolph. Each concert starts at 6 p.m.; proof of vaccination is required, and masks must be worn unless you are eating or drinking. Each show costs $40, and Geoffrey’s is offering a $25 soul food special. Tickets are at eventbrite.com (search for “Faye and the Folks”). More information can be found at geoffreyslive.com or fayecarol.com.