A season kickoff: Esa-Pekka Salonen and the San Francisco Symphony launch their fourth season together at 7 p.m. Friday in Davies Hall with a gala concert that interweaves romantic music and flashy technology, preceded by a 90-minute sparkling wine and savory bites reception in the lobby open to all ticket holders.
British baritone Simon Keenlyside, making his San Francisco Symphony debut, is the guest artist, singing Gustav Mahler’s “Songs of a Wayfarer.” The program opens with Richard Strauss’ tone poem “Don Juan” and concludes with Maurice Ravel’s famous (or infamous, depending upon your point of view) “Bolero.”
In between, there’s Oakland-based rapper, musician and educator Kev Choice, Grammy-winning operatic soprano Hila Plitmann and music improvisation impresario Anthony Veneziale (Two Touch) collaborating with the orchestra on Swedish composer Anders Hillborg’s “Rap Notes,” using AI-generated verse and accompanied by hip lighting and video projections. Wow. A couple of fancy dinners follow the program, but reception and concert-only tickets, $150-$250, are available at www.sfsymphony.org.
A premiere at last: The long-awaited arrival in San Francisco of Bay Area composer Mason Bates and Pulitzer Prize-winning librettist Mark Campbell’s “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs” takes place with great fanfare at 7:30 p.m. Friday at War Memorial Opera House.
San Francisco Opera was supposed to roll out the work it co-commissioned with the opera companies of Santa Fe and Seattle and the Jacobs School of Music in Indiana more than three years ago, but the pandemic intervened.
Hailed at its 2017 world premiere in Santa Fe, it has since been performed in multiple locales before finally making its debut here in the actual environment where the action is set.
The 90-minute, one-act work with the cleverly punned title, sung in English, traces in a series of flashbacks some important episodes of the famed tech giant’s storied career. The title role will be reinterpreted by baritone John Moore, who is making his San Francisco Opera debut but has sung the part in five other cities, including Seattle. Also reprising her role is mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, who introduced the Laurene Powell Jobs character at the world premiere.
Composer Bates, well-known for his innovations in electronic music, will be in the orchestra pit performing those components of the work.
Tickets, $26-$378, are available at (415) 864-3330 and at sfopera.com. Repeat performances are Sept. 24, Sept. 27, Sept. 30, Oct. 3 and Oct. 7; the 7:30 p.m. Sept. 27 performance will be livestreamed with viewing accessible for 48 hours, for $27.50. Visit sfopera.com/digital.
Freebie of the week: Judy Dater has been a giant in the world of photography for more than half a century, known for provocative work and involvement in the F/64 Group that also included Ansel Adams and Imogen Cunningham. The latter was a major influence on Dater’s development as a photographer and a close friend.
She also appears in what is likely Dater’s best-known work, “Imogen and Twinka at Yosemite,” which depicts an elderly Cunningham encountering a nude model (Twinka Thiebaud) who is leaning against a tree and gazes at her with a look that is both playful and bashful. The iconic photo, which became world famous after its publication in Life magazine, reportedly came out of a workshop titled “The Nude in the Landscape” involving Adams, Cunningham, Dater and others.
For much of her career, Dater was known for her feminist take on photography and challenging traditional ideas about presenting the female body in photos. In the 1980s, she produced the famed “Self Portraiture” series that revisited many of her trademark themes: feminism and the female body and the deep connection between people and the natural world. Now, at 82, Dater is back with new photographs of another hot-button issue: firearms.
“The Gun Next Door ” consists of mostly black-and-white, simply constructed images of people with their guns, and includes written narratives of the owners’ relationship to their firearms. The collection is meant to challenge traditional concepts of what kind of people own guns and why they do.
The exhibit, arranged by the East Bay Photo Collective, is on display at the Oakland Photo Workshop, 312 Eighth St., Oakland. Gallery hours are noon-6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and noon-3 p.m. Sundays. Admission is free. More information is at www.ebpco.org.
What’s doin’ at Smuin: Smuin Contemporary Ballet is kicking off its 30th season with a program that features a brand-new work and an old favorite that salutes the Man in Black.
The new work is a Latin-themed number titled “Salsa ‘Til Dawn,” by award-winning choreographer Darrell Grand Moultrie, who has created dances for artists ranging from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre to Beyonce, and whose work “Jazzin’” was premiered by Smuin in 2013.
“Salsa” is a Cuban-flavored work set to music by celebrated songwriter Charles Fox, whose credits range from zillions of TV and film scores including the theme song for “The Love Boat” to the hit “Killing Me Softly with His Song.” He also created the score for company founder Michael Smuin’s work “Zorro!”
The new program, titled “Dance Series 1,” also revives an old Smuin Ballet favorite, “Man in Black,” a four-dancer gem that incorporates swing, square dancing and line dancing set to songs Johnny Cash covered late in his career. The program also brings back Val Caniparoli’s “Tutto Eccetto il,” a lively work set to music by Vivaldi.
Smuin Contemporary Ballet brings the program to the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St., Mountain View, for four performances Thursday through Sunday, and to Cowell Theater at San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center, from Sept. 29-Oct. 7. Tickets are $25-$89; go to www.smuinballet.org.
Mr. President! An American president who’s a brash, impulsive, reckless, ego-driven creator of chaos? Where would anyone get such an idea? Yes, playwright Selina Fillinger was indeed inspired by a certain American president whose name rhymes with rump when creating the titular Oval Office occupant for her comedy “POTUS,” which opens at Berkeley Repertory Theatre this week.
But the deal is, the comedic stage show is not really about the guy who’s president, as its full title — “POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive” — makes clear. The show focuses on the women surrounding the president — his wife, press secretary, administrative secretary, mistress, sister, chief of staff and a journalist — who must scramble to save the president and the office after he inadvertently creates a global crisis.
The president never appears in the play, which features an all-female cast. “I never wanted to see him; I never wanted to write him. He wasn’t interesting to me,” Fillinger has said about “POTUS” and its implied-only president.
“POTUS,” which got its Broadway premiere last year to much acclaim, is the third full-length play from the 29-year-old Berkeley native. The others — “Faceless,” about a wannabe terrorist, and “Something Clean,” about the mother of a sex offender — are both dramas. Perhaps it is only fitting that her first stage comedy be set in the White House.
The show runs through Oct. 22 at Berkeley Rep’s Roda Theatre, 2025 Addison St. Tickets are $45-$134; go to www.berkeleyrep.org.