Best Bets: holiday performances for streaming

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


A showcase in song

Coming to you from all over the world at 7:30 p.m. Friday is a 90-minute streaming program dubbed “Celebrating the Voices of San Francisco Opera.” On the stage of the Teatro Real in Madrid, Nicola Luisotti, former music director of S.F. Opera, is at the piano, accompanying soprano Sondra Radvanovsky, tenor Michael Fabiano and baritone Artur Rucinski as they perform arias from the Italian repertoire. Other venues host performances from Berlin, Chicago, New York, Auckland and, of course, the Taube Atrium Theater in San Francisco. Also featured are sopranos Janai Brugger and Amina Edris, mezzo-soprano Ashley Dixon, tenor Pene Pati, bass-baritone Alfred Walker and musicians from the San Francisco Opera. Incoming music director Eun Sun Kim co-hosts with Matthew Shilvock, general director, as the event streams for free at sfopera.com and on YouTube and Facebook. And it will all remain available up until midnight on Sunday.


From the hall of the Norwegian king

Celebrated Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, an artist blessed with both keen sensitivity and exceptional technical skill, joins the roster of Cal Performances at Home stars at 7 p.m. Thursday, playing a full, professionally produced concert from the 13th-century Hakonshallen (King Haakon’s Hall) in Bergen, Norway. On his program are the Mozart’s Fantasia in C minor, Beethoven’s “Pathetique” Sonata and selections from Janacek’s “On an Overgrown Path,” Book 1, and selections from Dvorak’s “Poetic Tone Pictures.” A video chat between Andsnes and Cal Performances artistic director Jeremy Geffen will begin a half hour before the concert. Tickets, $15-$60, are available at 510-642-9988 or calperformances.org/at-home, and the program will be accessible on demand until Jan. 2, 2021.


James Carpenter stars as Ebenezer Scrooge in American Conservatory Theater’s radio-play production of “A Christmas Carol.” (Keven Berne/American Conservatory Theater)

The Dickens of an idea

San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater has been staging “A Christmas Carol” for the holidays for 44 years, so it’s nice to see the production’s cast and crew — God bless ’em, every one — pivot to a version of the Dickens classic that people can watch at home. Introducing: “A Christmas Carol: On Air,” a radio play that will be streamed at ACT’s website Friday through Dec. 31. Acclaimed Bay Area actor James Carpenter returns as Ebenezer Scrooge, and much of the cast will be the same as in recent years’ productions. There will be live “listening parties” Friday and Dec. 23. Ticket packages cost $40-$60 and some include such extras as an activities book meant to immerse you in Dickens’ literary world. Go to www.act-sf.org for tickets and more information.


“The Steadfast Tin Soldier,” adapted by Mary Zimmerman from the Hans Christian Andersen fable, is streaming at Berkeley Rep’s website through Dec. 27. (Liz Lauren/Lookingglass Theatre Company)

There’s something about Mary

Bay Area stage fans, particularly those who frequent Berkeley Repertory Theatre, are well aware of the magic of a Mary Zimmerman show. The Chicago director and writer has brought such evocative gems as “The Odyssey,” “Treasure Island,” “Arabian Nights,” “Argonautika” and “Metamorphoses” to Berkeley Rep, and now she is back with “The Steadfast Tin Soldier.” The play is adapted from the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale of the same name, and follows a toy tin soldier who falls in love with a paper ballerina. Apparently, love doesn’t come easy, even for toys. As in previous works, Zimmerman’s play, performed by the Lookingglass Theatre Company of which she is a member, infuses the story with live theater, puppetry and stunning sets and lighting arrangements. It’s streaming through Dec. 27 at www.berkeleyrep.org. Tickets are $20-$25.


Fighting fire with firepower

A bevy of legendary musicians, many from the Bay Area, have signed on to perform in a livestreamed concert Saturday to benefit victims of the CZU Lightning Complex fires, which last summer gobbled some 40,000 acres in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, leveled nearly 1,500 buildings and scorched such beloved state parks as Butano and Big Basin Redwoods. The lineup includes Bonnie Raitt, Boz Scaggs, Sammy Hagar, Kevin Cronin, Steve Earle, Joe Satriani and Los Lobos — and we are just scratching the surface here. The roughly 2.5-hour show, titled “Love You Madly — A Stream for Santa Cruz Fire Relief,” kicks off at 7 p.m. and also includes appearances by Laurie Lewis, John Doe, Colin Hay, the String Cheese Incident, the California Honeydrops, Rogue Wave, Y&T and more. Accessing the show is free, but donations are encouraged and will benefit the Fire Response Fund. You can access the show and learn more at SantaCruzFireRelief.org.

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