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 veritable Verdi masterpiece: It isn’t one of his operas, but it belongs up in the pantheon along with his greatest works in that genre, even contributing, in its “Ingemisco” section, a soaring aria that many a tenor has incorporated into an ambitious solo recital program. We’re talking about Giuseppe Verdi’s glorious Requiem, the 1874 work composed in commemoration of the Italian poet and author Alessandro Manzoni. Its signature movement is the thunderous “Dies irae,” recurring with the accompaniment of massive blows on the bass drum that would put the designed fear of God into just about anyone. The San Francisco Choral Society, returning to Davies Hall for the first time since the pandemic hit, is mounting a performance there at 8 p.m. Friday, with the California Chamber Symphony providing the orchestral support. The four soloists engaged for the event are soprano Clarissa Lyons, mezzo-soprano Buffy Baggott, tenor Christopher Bengochea and baritone Eugene Brancoveanu, going low for the bass part. Tickets, $40-$60, can be purchased through https://www.cityboxoffice.com/ or by calling (415) 392-4400.
Capping it off: The largest annual class of Merola Opera Program enrollees in the prestigious apprenticeship program’s history gathers onstage at the War Memorial Opera House Saturday night for the traditional “Grand Finale” concert that brings its summer festival to a close. Thirty-one aspiring opera stars from all over the world — singers, coaches, pianists and one fledgling stage director — have prepared a program of arias and ensembles designed to show off their rapidly developing talents. The conductor for the program, Patrick Furrer, is a New York Metropolitan staff member. The repertoire will include pieces from Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro,” Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale,” Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly,” John Adams’ “Doctor Atomic,” Verdi’s “Falstaff” and many more. Performance time is 7:30 p.m., and tickets, $25-$50, are available at https://merola.org/calendar or by calling (415) 864-3330.
Voice of reason: With her soft, deliberate and flawless diction, Rita Rudner sounds like she should be talking about tonight’s lineup on PBS or which color scheme you should employ in your home office space. Instead, she has made a living coolly mocking the institutions we hold most dear — love, marriage, family — and comparing single men to “bears with furniture.” Rudner’s comedy is so sharp and deftly executed that it’s easy to forget that her earliest aspirations were to be a professional dancer or a star of Broadway musicals. But when the comedy explosion of the late 1970s and early ’80s started to detonate, Rudner noticed that the gender ratio of stars heavily tilted toward the men. So she tried her hand at stand-up and found she had a real knack for the trade. Thanks to regular appearances on “The Tonight Show” and “Late Night With David Letterman,” Rudner’s comedy act became an American staple. And unlike many of her contemporaries, she has pretty much stuck with it, rather than pursuing a plethora of film and sitcom roles. Since 2001, however, she has been largely based in Las Vegas, where her show has emerged one of the city’s longest-running and most lucrative comedy acts. She makes a rare break from Sin City on Saturday to perform an 8 p.m. set at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore. Tickets are $20-$80; go to https://livermorearts.org/.
Red state makeover: When was the last time you heard words like “edgy” and “new look” attached to “Oklahoma!” — the legendary 1943 Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway show that people who don’t like musicals point to when they want to explain how they don’t like musicals. But that was yesterday’s “Oklahoma!” — before director Daniel Fish unleashed his version on an unsuspecting theater world. Almost more of a revolution than a mere revival, this take on the show features a stripped-down stage, new choreography, an onstage band instead of a full orchestra and a somewhat more ambiguous storyline surrounding the classic love triangle at the heart of the show. What hasn’t changed, though, is the classic score for the musical, highlighted by such gems as “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’,” “The Surrey With the Fringe on Top,” “Kansas City,” “People Will Say We’re in Love,” and many more. It’s this new take on “Oklahoma!” that opened this week at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Theatre, presented by BroadwaySF, where it plays through Sept. 11. The theater is at Taylor and Market streets. Tickets are $56-$256 (subject to change); go to https://www.broadwaysf.com/.
Mad about Mads: It would be enough to say the Bay Area’s Mads Tolling is simply a supremely talented violinist if that’s all he was. But part of his musical DNA is an amazing versatility and wide-ranging sense of exploration that draws him in myriad directions. He has been a member of all-world bassist Stanley Clarke’s band as well as the famed jazz/classical/Americana hybrid band Turtle Island Quartet, and collaborated with artists ranging from Chick Corea to Leo Kottke to the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir. He’s also fronted such bands as Mads Tolling and the Mads Men. But this weekend, he takes the stage as a solo act and gets to exhibit his musicianship as well as his mastery of 21st century technology. Armed with an array of “looping” devices, which allow him to create harmonies and multipart songs live onstage, Tolling will perform at 5 p.m. Sunday at the Central Stage performance venue in Richmond. As to what he will play, he’s only got about a zillion works in his repertoire to choose from, ranging from Coltrane to bluegrass to Radiohead and Led Zeppelin. The theater is at 5221 Central Ave.; admission to the live show is $30. You can also livestream the performance on the Tunedera music site for $10. Tickets to both the live and streaming version of the concert are available on https://www.tunedera.com/.