Best Bests for the Weekend | November 22 – 24

Mezzo-soprano Nikola Printz steps into the title role when Art Minerva presents the modern world premiere of Domenico Freschi’s 1680 opera “Ermelinda” at the ODC Theater in San Francisco. (Photo courtesy of Valentina Sadiul)

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.

• Fresh from history’s bin: Cleopatra, the fierce Amazons, Iphigenia and the sorceress Circe — all have proven to be strong-willed women at the center of Italian Baroque operas revived by the San Francisco arts organization Ars Minerva since 2013. Next up is “Ermelinda,” a tough-minded and clever gal at the  center of Domenico Freschi’s 1680 opera by that name. She is in love with Ormindo, but her tyrannical brute of a father resorts to abduction to keep them apart. Follow their fates as Ars Minerva resurrects the work for its modern world premiere this weekend in three performances at the ODC Theater in San Francisco. Mezzo-soprano Nikola Printz sings the role of the heroine, and contralto Sara Couden is her paramour. Conductor and harpsichordist Jory Vinikour leads an ensemble of period musicians. 7:30 p.m. Nov. 22 and 23 and 2:30 p.m. Nov. 24 at 3153 17th St, San Francisco. Tickets, $26-$250, at 415-863-9834 or

• A very Smuin Christmas: One of the great holiday traditions in the Bay Area is the annual “Christmas Ballet” served up by the popular dance troupe founded by choreographer Michael Smuin 25 years ago. The program is a mix of sacred, sassy and sumptuous, featuring favorite traditional works created by Smuin, who died in 2007, and brand new contemporary dances. Per tradition, Smuin Contemporary Ballet is taking its holiday show on the road, with stops in Walnut Creek (Nov. 22-23), Mountain View (Nov. 29-Dec.1), San Francisco (Dec. 12-23) and Carmel (Dec. 28-29). Tickets are $25-$97 at

(Image courtesy of de Young Museum)

• “Soul of a Nation”: Focusing on the years of 1963-83, this new exhibit, subtitled “Art in the Age of Black Power” serves up scores of paintings, sculptures and other art objects focusing on African American history and expression. The works range from blunt and powerful to abstract to humorous, and remind us of how much has changed and how much more needs to change. The exhibit runs through March 15 at the de Young Museum at Golden Gate Park; admission is $10-$25;

• Arhoolie Awards: The El Cerrito-based Arhoolie Foundation and its affiliated record label has documented scores of authentic American roots music musicians, ranging from Cajun to blues to folk to Tex-Mex and much more. To call it an American treasure would be an understatement. The foundation will hold its second annual fundraising awards show on Nov. 22 at The Chapel in San Francisco’s Mission District. Blues/folk/gospel singer Linda Tillery and blues guitar great Elvin Bishop are both honorees and performers. The show is 8 p.m.; tickets are $35-$125 at

• Talented pooches on tour: Chris Perondi’s Stunt Dog Experience tours the country with its family-friendly show featuring an arsenal of high-flying canine tricks, not to mention doggy dancing and lots of humor. And the best part is all the pups are rescued from shelters and other situations. The troupe has two Bay Area stops this weekend: 2 and 6 p.m. Nov. 23 at Oshman Family Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto ($35-$45, and 2 and 6 p.m. Nov. 24 at Bankhead Theater in Livermore ($20-$30;

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