Arts & Events

New: The Twice-Over Fall of the House of Usher: A Macabre Double-Bill at S.F. Opera

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Wednesday December 09, 2015 - 12:24:00 PM

I have never been a fan of Edgar Allan Poe. His macabre stories and morbid sensibility hold no interest for me. I can understand why, historically, they might have appealed to earlier generations, especially, turn-of-the-twentieth-century generations. To me, however, Poe’s writings are, if you’ll pardon the pun, a dead letter. Imagine my chagrin at having to sit through – then write about – not one but two operas based on Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher. -more-

New: Theater Review: 'Or' at Berkeley City Club, Staged by Anton's Well

Ken Bullock
Friday December 04, 2015 - 04:58:00 PM

The proof of the pudding, they say, is in the eating, and in theater, the proof's in the show. This's where Berkeley troupe Anton's Well--which staged a splendid three-hander, Pinter's 'Old Times,' at the Berkeley City Club last year--scores in returning to the scene with Liz Duffy Adams' "costume comedy" 'Or,' also cast for a threesome, about the English Restoration and the first successful female playwright, Aphra Benn--in a show which displays perhaps the most tried-and-true value in live theater: Trouping. -more-

Janis Joplin: Little Girl Blue
Opens December 4 at The Roxie in San Francisco

Gar Smith
Thursday December 03, 2015 - 04:41:00 PM

This was the first time I ever teared-up while reading a press kit. I guess this is just more proof that any encounter with Janis Joplin is bound to be emotional. For survivors of the Sixties, there are certain moments that are emotionally welded into the collective memory: the Kennedy assassination, the walk on the moon, and Janis Joplin exploding on the screen during D.A. Pennebaker's Monterey Pop. And I'm sure the impact of Janis' hurricane performances will continue to blast people off their feet and cause younger jaws to drop for decades to come. (Look at the Monterey Pops crowd shots after Janis has left the stage. Stunned, wide-eyed people smiling and mouthing the universal reaction: "Wow!")

Amy Berg's long-in-the-making bio-doc packs in a lot of "wow" moments but it also offers a backlog of "ows" as it follows the hardscrabble kid from Port Arthur, Texas on her roller-coaster ride from withering local ridicule to international acclaim.


New: Peter Brook’s LA TRAGÉDIE DE CARMEN at S.F. Conservatory of Music

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Saturday December 05, 2015 - 03:52:00 PM

In 1982 Peter Brook presented in Paris a scaled-down version of Georges Bizet’s ever-popular opera, Carmen. Staged in a gigantic converted sports arena, Brook’s La Tragédie de Carmen was conceived as a drama for the masses, not your usual lavish opera spectacle but rather a version of Bizet’s opera that stripped everything to its dramatic essentials in order to highlight the structure of tragedy which Brook believes underlies the ‘Carmen’ story. Brook cut away about a third of the narrative, producing an 82-minute version of Carmen that was a model of dramatic condensation and narrative clarity. Brook also eliminated, or at least minimized, all the factitious appurtenances of “Spanishness” that have adhered to the ‘Carmen’ story, choosing to emphasize instead an archetypal primitiveness, a trans-historical quality, with suggestions of ancient Greek tragedy, that enhances the suggestion of universality in Brook’s tragic vision. In Brook’s Paris production of La Tragédie de Carmen, African drums introduced the Habanera music. -more-

Altered Christmas Carols in honor of the DBA*

Carol Denney
Friday December 04, 2015 - 11:17:00 AM

(to the tune of Jingle Bells)

Chorus: profits first! profits first

civil rights can wait

all we want are shoppers

even if they’re full of ha--ate!

kick the poor off the streets

they’re just in the way

we don’t really need a law

to jail the poor today -more-

New: Rossini’s BARBER OF SEVILLE at S.F. Opera

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Monday November 30, 2015 - 03:16:00 PM

Gioachino Rossini’s comic-opera Il Barbiere di Siviglia is universally hailed as Rossini’s masterpiece, and the public acclaim accorded this opera overshadows Rossini’s other noteworthy accomplishments, both in comic-opera and opera seria. Perhaps the popularity of Il Barbiere di Siviglia is what persuaded San Francisco Opera’s General Director David Gockley to revive this work just two years after a new production opened here in Fall 2013. Much remains the same now as in that earlier production. Many cast members have returned, although in 2013 this sparkling production featured alternating casts, while the current Barber of Seville is content with a single cast for all performances. -more-

Berkeley Civic Meetings: November 30 - December 6 plus Dec 8 Harold Way Appeal

Kelly Hammargren for the Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Monday November 30, 2015 - 08:08:00 AM

We have a number of very important meetings coming up. Note City Council will be at Longfellow on Dec 1. The last City Council meeting of the year is December 15 and then we get a break in city meetings after December 17 until January 19. -more-