Bay Area Best Bets

Karine Deshayes and Rene Barbera star in San Francisco Opera's 2014 production of Rossini's "La Cenerentola" (Cinderella). (Photo by Cory Weaver/S.F. Opera)

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.

Here a Cinderella, there a Cinderella

What a happy coinkydink! Both San Francisco Opera and Livermore Valley Opera are making their most recent past productions of Rossini’s “Cinderella” available for free streaming this weekend. First up is LVO’s 2014 version, starring tenor Marco Stefani as Prince Ramiro (aka Prince Charming) and mezzo-soprano Shirin Eskandani as the ash-besmirched, glass-slippered heroine, who goes by the name of Angelina in Rossini’s version. It goes live on the LVO’s YouTube channel at 7 p.m. July 17 and will be available indefinitely. At 10 a.m. July 18, San Francisco Opera unleashes its “La Cenerentola,” also from 2014, for its ongoing Opera Is ON program, making it viewable until midnight the following day. French mezzo-soprano Karine Deshayes sings the Angelina role, and her charming Prince Ramiro is sung by American tenor René Barbera.
Check it out at

David Mitchell will discuss his new book, “Utopia Avenue,” with fellow authors Michael Chabon and Tom Barbash at a digital event hosted by Book Passage. (Photo courtesy of Paul Stuart)

Literary lights line up

Three of our very favorite writers sharing their insights on the same screen at the same time? Sign us up! Book Passage is sponsoring an Extended Sessions virtual event with Berkeley powerhouse author Michael Chabon interviewing “Cloud Atlas” author David Mitchell about his brand new novel “Utopia Avenue,” with Marin County author Tom Barbash moderating. The $40 ticketed event takes place at 4 p.m. July 16, and those who register quickly enough will be given access to a virtual “signing line” where they will meet one-on-one with Mitchell after the conversation. “Utopia Avenue” is a shimmering, colorful novel about a British rock band’s meteoric rise to fame, penned by the bestselling author of “Black Swan Green,” “Ghostwritten,” “Number9Dream,” “The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet” and others. The ticket price includes a copy of the new book, with handling and shipping included.
Sign up for this unique event at

Grammy-nominated pianist and composer Elio Villafranca will discuss his new suite, “Cinque,” inspired by the 19th-century African freedom fighter Joseph Cinque, on the CubaCaribe website on July 18. (Photo by Cynthia Van Elk, courtesy of Cuba Caribe)

From Cuba, with love

CubaCaribe’s joyous annual music and dance festival is off, of course, but the nonprofit that celebrates and promotes artistic expression from a wide variety of Caribbean cultures is offering streamed presentations, performances and interviews on Saturday evenings. Go to the organization’s website — — at 6 p.m. on July 18 and you can view a Zoom presentation by Grammy-nominated pianist and composer Elio Villafranca discussing his new suite, “Cinque,” inspired by the 19th century African freedom fighter Joseph Cinque. The presentation includes live performance, video and more. The presentation is free, but donations will aid an organization that does much to enrich the Bay Area with art from Cuba and the Caribbean. And if you don’t have Zoom, you’ll need to download it (it’s so easy we can do it) before tuning in.

Spend an hour with Cal Performances

If you’re like us, surfing on YouTube invariably leads to repeated viewings of “Celebrity Jeopardy” segments or clips of a confused corgi trying to figure out the sprinklers at a water park. That’s why we can’t quit gushing over Cal Performances’ weekly curated collections of arts videos. Compiled by artistic director Jeremy Geffen (with terrific commentary), Issue 25, for example, delivers performances by the Far Cry chamber orchestra tackling Tchaikovsky; the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra; a (really) young Wynton Marsalis finding transcendence in Haydn; Quatuor Ébène performing a Mediterranean folk tune that “Pulp Fiction” fans will recognize immediately; and the always-rewarding Mark Morris Dance Group. Most of the works or performers highlighted have some connection to a past or future Cal Performances season, reminding us of what we are missing in recital halls but can still enjoy online when someone smart leads us to them.
You can find the videos at The content is free, but donations are encouraged.

Shazia Mirza, Tanyalee Davis and Mark Maier join Lisa Geduldig on her new monthly online show, “Lockdown Comedy,” on July 16. (Courtesy photo)

Plague humor

Many in the Bay Area know Lisa Geduldig as a comedian and producer who brings us Kung Pao Kosher Comedy show during the winter holidays each year. Now she has a new monthly online show, “Lockdown Comedy,” kicking off July 16. This installment features stand-up performances from three London comedians, Shazia Mirza (a frequent presence on various “Comedy Central” shows); Tanyalee Davis, a top London club comedian; and Mark Maier, who plies his stand-up trade with relentless tours across Europe.
You can catch the show at 6 p.m. July 16 at Cost is $10. Future installments of “Lockdown Comedy” are planned for the third Thursday of the month.

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