Best Bets: fashion from the opera and the trash

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.

How much would you be willing to shell out for one of these lavish costumes designed by Thierry Bousquet for a San Francisco Opera production of Franz Lehar’s “The Merry Widow”? (Photo courtesy of Adam Traum) 

The diva’s duds: How about a little retail therapy (or maybe just some virtual window-shopping) this weekend? Much of the lavish finery from past productions mounted by San Francisco Opera are getting price-tagged now for the company’s first-ever online costume shop sale, beginning at noon on Friday and running until 11:59 p.m. Sunday. Can you see yourself all decked out in one of the gorgeous gowns, designed by Thierry Bosquet, that Frederica von Stade pranced around in for her role in Franz Lehár’s “The Merry Widow”? Or how about the chain mail suits of armor (custom-made in New Zealand, we are told) the swaggering knights wore in Richard Wagner’s “Tannhäuser” back in 2007? More than 500 eye-popping costumes for adults and some 40 pieces for children are available, including glam rags from “Die Fledermaus” and “Don Giovanni.” Prices range from $75 to $1,000 and sizing charts and photos will be provided on the company’s website. Purchased items can be shipped or picked up by appointment at a location in Burlingame through Nov. 24. For more info, visit

All eight of his appointed young collaborators will be joining incoming San Francisco Symphony music director Esa-Pekka Salonen (in black shirt) for a free streaming and broadcast program on Nov. 14. (Photo courtesy of S.F. Symphony)

Esa-Pekka and the Gang of Eight: Incoming San Francisco Symphony music director Esa-Pekka Salonen makes his much-anticipated first big splash with the organization by gathering all eight of his young “Collaborative Partners” around for a “From Hall to Home” virtual program that will air at 7 p.m. Saturday both online at and as a broadcast on KQED Channel 9. “Throughline,” a commissioned 13-section work by one of the eight, composer Nico Muhly, anchors the one-hour program and will feature contributions from each of the seven others: singer Julia Bullock, flutist Claire Chase, guitarist Bryce Dessner, violinist Pekka Kuusisto, artificial intelligence expert Carol Reiley, pianist Nicholas Britell and jazz bassist/singer esperanza spalding. Works by Beethoven, John Adams, Kev Choice and Ellen Reid round out the concert, which will be rebroadcast on “NBC Bay Area” Channel 11 at 7 p.m. Nov. 30 and remain online for on-demand streaming on the Symphony website.

“Barbie: Reclaimed & Reinvented” art exhibit in Sonoma returns as a virtual show this year. (Photo courtesy of Sonoma Community Center)

It’s ‘Trashion’ time: The intersection of trash, art and fashion is lovingly explored in Sonoma each year with the two-pronged “Trashion Fashion” event. Part runway show and part reimagined Barbie exhibition, the event is also a key fundraiser for arts and education programs offered by the Sonoma Community Center. The pandemic has chased the two events online this year, but they promise to be as fun and provocative as ever. The event kicks off at 11 a.m.-noon on Saturday with the “Barbie: Reclaimed & Reinvented” virtual gallery show, featuring 50 Barbie dolls that have been rescued from the trash and outfitted with recycled materials. Each of the works will be for sale. Part 2 of the event is the Trashion Fashion Show from 4-7 p.m. Nov. 21, showcasing outfits created exclusively from recycled materials. One COVID-inspired difference this year is that the runway show is off, and so the outfits are being creatively displayed all over Sonoma and photographed for a virtual slideshow, with live commentary. Both events are free, but donations are encouraged. Go to

Bay Area band The Mermen play two live outdoor shows Thursday, Nov. 12, at The Chapel in San Francisco. (Photo courtesy of The Mermen) 

Catch The Mermen: The dining out and live entertainment scenes have been sadly restricted by the pandemic, but here’s a rare chance to enjoy both experiences in one outing. The Chapel nightclub in San Francisco is opening an outdoor stage area on Thursday for a pair of shows by Bay Area band The Mermen. The outfit formed in 1989 featuring a surf-rock/psychedelic sound that front man Jim Thomas has sought to broaden over the years. Suffice to say the tunes will be eclectic, instrumental and probably pretty damned perfect at capturing the spirit of these otherworldly times. Each show includes a prix fixe dinner with several culinary options. The shows begin at 5:30 and 8:15 p.m.; tables will be socially distanced and set up for parties of two ($200), four ($400) and six ($600). Masks are required. Reservations and more information are at

The devil of a tradition: Walnut Creek dance troupe Diablo Ballet is annually one of the first in the Bay Area to present that staple of the holiday arts season, “The Nutcracker.” The ballet is back this year as a virtual production that was filmed earlier this month and will be streamed from 7:30 p.m. Friday through 10 p.m. Sunday. The company’s take on the classic is set in San Francisco, and this production will include backstage interviews and more extras. Plus, ticket buyers are invited to the company’s annual Sugar Plum Party at 3 p.m. Sunday, which will be a Zoom event this year. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased at

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