Best Bets: A new face for Frankenstein and a feminist take on ancient Greek theatre

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.

The Fauré Quartett from Germany is set to open the Music at Kohl Mansion’s new season. (Photo courtesy of the artists)

On a roll at the Kohl: We won’t be flocking through the doors of the historic Kohl Mansion in Burlingame this year to attend concerts in its beautiful Great Hall, but the virtual doors are flung wide open for Music at Kohl Mansion’s 38th season. The award-winning artists of the Fauré Quartett from Germany will kick things off at 7 p.m. Sunday with a performance, appropriately enough, of the first piano quartet written by their namesake composer, Gabriel Fauré. Two of the French composer’s songs, “Notre amour” and “Les berceaux,” are also on the program. (The Fauré Quartett, in addition to its celebrated recordings of the Classical and Romantic composers, are also known for performing songs by the likes of Peter Gabriel and Steely Dan.) Kohl Mansion musicologist Kai Christiansen will introduce the one-hour event. Tickets, $20, are available at musicatkohl.org and at 650-762-1130.


Happily rebooked: Italian pianist Federico Colli, an erstwhile whiz kid International Piano magazine declared one of the “30 under 30” keyboard artists likely to dominate the world stage in years to come after he won both the Salzburg Mozart and the Leeds International piano competitions several years ago, was supposed to close out the Steinway Society’s 25th season last May. 

Italian pianist Federico Colli’s season-opening recital for the Steinway Society will be available to ticket holders for four days. (Photo courtesy of Sirio Serughetti)

But we all know what happened to stifle that. Now Colli, 32, is set to open the San Jose-based organization’s all-virtual new season with a recorded recital that begins airing on Friday and will remain available to subscribers for four full days. The program is a delicious one, too: four lively Scarlatti sonatas, Schubert’s Piano Sonata in A minor and Beethoven’s famed “Moonlight Sonata.” Tickets to this concert are $20, but $60 will get you virtual seats as well to three succeeding performances set for November, December and January, each of them also available for four days. Go to www.steinwaysociety.com or call 408-300-5635 to purchase.


Sarah Fornace performs in Manuel Cinema’s “Frankenstein,” which debuts Oct. 29 as part of Cal Performances At Home series. (Photo courtesy of Drew Dir/Manual Cinema)

‘Frankenstein’ gets a new look: Since it’s Halloween weekend and all, this is as good a time as any to revisit Mary Shelley’s classic tale. And there’s a new 97-minute “Frankenstein” that is probably unlike any other version you’ve seen. Created by Chicago’s Manual Cinema, the show employs puppets and special lighting to create the look and feel of a silent movie, but is augmented with live actors, video and four musicians who perform the score live onstage. The show also weaves aspects of Shelley’s tragic life into the story’s themes of love, loss, betrayal and responsibility. “Frankenstein” will livestream at 7 p.m. Thursday at the website of Cal Performances, which co-commissioned the work. Tune in at 6:30 p.m. to watch members of the Manual Cinema cast and crew talk about their, um, creation. Following Thursday’s premiere, “Frankenstein” will be available on demand through Jan. 27. Tickets are $15-$60; go to calperformances.org.


Cynthia Lagodzinski stars in Pear Theatre’s new take on “Lysistrata.” (Photo courtesy of John Deven/Pear Theatre)

Creative abstinence: There seems to be a terrible misperception out there that men can be manipulated into doing almost anything (or not doing something) by sex, or the threatened withholding of same. Perhaps we should blame “Lysistrata,” the ancient Greek play by Aristophanes about men giving up war after their wives start refusing to partake in any pre-bedtime rituals, if you catch our drift. The play is still regularly produced as feminist comedy, and now Pear Theatre company in Mountain View is serving up a streaming version of “Lysistrata,” which was recently filmed outdoors by an eight-member cast (each actor playing multiple roles) directed Betsy Kruse Craig. You can catch the production through Nov. 15 at www.thepear.org; tickets are $30-$34.


Runnin’ down a kick-butt concert: Musicians around the world are coming up with intriguing ways to keep busy during the pandemic and benefit the struggling music halls where, during better times, they can ply their trade. Alt-country artist Lucinda Williams has come up with an impressive campaign titled Lu’s Jukebox, a series of streaming tribute concerts that come loaded with extras. The series kicks off at 5 p.m. Thursday with “Runnin’ Down a Dream: A Tribute to Tom Petty,” featuring Williams backed by a full band performing in a sound studio. We’re not sure anyone is more suited to performing an homage to the late, great rocker Petty than Williams. Future shows include a night of “Southern Soul” (Nov. 12), a tribute to Bob Dylan (Nov. 19), a nod to ’60s country classics (Dec. 3), a “Rockin’ Christmas” celebration (Dec. 17) and a tribute to the Rolling Stones (New Year’s Eve). Tickets to Thursday’s show run $20-$40, depending on whether you just want to watch the performance or add on such goodies as signed posters, digital downloads, CDs or vinyl records. A series pass will run you $100-$215. You can catch the shows at www.thefreight.org, the website for Berkeley’s Freight & Salvage, one of music clubs Williams is benefitting with her concerts.

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