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Curtain Call for Screens: 7 Kid-Friendly Performances

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Opera Parallèle's Hands-on-Opera program works with elementary schools to produce children's operas. In 2013, Opera Parallèle's Hands-on-Opera program produced 'The Spider's Revenge' with Daniel Webster Elementary.  (Photo: Courtesy of Opera Parallèle)


A few weeks ago my 2-and-a-half-year-old son asked to go to the opera, and he’s repeated that every couple of days since then. To me, it’s a sign that all that prenatal Wagner (7 operas in 9 days) affected him, and I needed to support this interest in a medium I love. Doing a little research, I found that the San Francisco Opera offers programming for 3 to 5 year olds, gave a Magic Flute workshop back in March, and plans to do the same with Hansel and Gretel and The Little Prince in the coming months.

I also found plenty of other events that will satisfy any child bit by the theater/Opera bug, and here are seven that are sure to please.

Shanghai Acrobats of the People's Republic of China
Shanghai Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China perform at UC Berkeley and Sonoma State this September. (Photo: Shanghai Acrobats of the People's Republic of China)

Shanghai Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China

Sept. 10
Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley
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Sept. 25
Weill Hall, Rohnert Park
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This acrobatic troupe makes stops at UC Berkeley and Sonoma State as part of a US tour. Featuring more than a hundred performers, this two-hour spectacle is sure to be colorful and includes aerial silks, unicyclists, hoop-diving and juggling. Considered “For Families” by Cal Performances, tickets are half price for those 16-and-under. Children 2 and under do not require a ticket at Green Music Center but must sit on the lap of an adult.

Opera in the Park
Opera in the Park returns to Sharon Meadow on September 11. (Photo: Stefan Cohen)

Opera in the Park

Sept. 11
Sharon Meadow, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
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This free annual event is part of San Francisco Opera’s opening festivities, so it’s very likely you’ll hear some of the stars in Andrea Chénier and Dream of the Red Chamber sing arias in a relaxed setting. The performance begins at a nap unfriendly time, but you can always show up in the morning around 10am and hear the rehearsal. If your kid ends up hating opera music, you can easily retreat to the nearby Children’s Quarter, one of the nicest playgrounds in the city.

Phil Wong plays The Cat in the Hat in BACT’s Seussical this fall. (Photo: Melissa Nigro)


Oct. 8 – Nov. 6
Freight & Salvage, Berkeley
Nov. 19 – Dec. 11
Children’s Creativity Museum Theater, San Francisco
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Bay Area Children’s Theater (BACT) presents Seussical, a musical based on various stories by Dr. Seuss, hosted by none other than The Cat in the Hat. Featuring characters from Horton Hears a Who!, Horton Hatches the Egg, and Miss Gertrude McFuzz, this colorful work comes from Tony-winners Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. BACT opted for the young audiences version of the piece, which runs 75 minutes — perfect for kids 3 and up.

Stanford Live Open House
Stanford Live hosts free arts open house on October 9. (Photo: Yuto Watanabe)

Inside / Out: Arts Open House

Oct. 9
Bing Concert Hall Gunn Atrium, Palo Alto
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Stanford Live celebrates its 125th anniversary with an all ages open house of live performance. Featured acts include electric harp, percussion, and cello trio StringQuake, African-themed performing arts group Oriki Theater, and Cardinal Calypso, Stanford’s steel pan band. The afternoon also includes audience participation and crafts.

Youth Orchestra Los Angeles
Youth Orchestra Los Angeles and Gustavo Dudamel perform in Oakland on October 30, 2016. (Photo: LA Philharmonic)

Gustavo Dudamel and Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA) 10th Anniversary Tour

Oct. 30
Paramount Theatre, Oakland
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Cal Performances presents LA Philharmonic’s Youth Orchestra conducted by superstar Maestro Gustavo Dudamel. The 80 young musicians range from 12 to 18 years old, and come from underserved communities throughout Los Angeles. Playing works by Beethoven, Brahms, Dvorak, Bernstein, and John Williams, the general admission tickets for the 45 minute event are only $5.

Dia de los Muertos Concert
San Francisco Symphony presents Dia de los Muertos concerts on November 5. (Photo: Stefan Cohen)

Dia de los Muertos Community Concert

Nov. 5
Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco
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This annual family-friendly event celebrates Latino culture with live music, dancing, and crafts in the lobby of Davies an hour before a concert on the stage. Featured artists include bands La Santa Cecilia and Mariachi Flor de Toloache, theater group Círculo Cultural, and the Women of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus. Adult tickets start at $20 and tickets for kids (recommended for those 7 and up) are half price.

Amazing Grace
Opera Parallèle’s Hands-on-Opera program works with elementary schools to produce children’s operas. This year’s opera is Xochitl and the Flowers. (Photo: Alejandro Palacios)

Xochitl and the Flowers

Nov. 17 and Nov. 19
Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, San Francisco
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Opera Parallèle (OP) is partnering with Alvarado Elementary School’s 3rd grade Spanish immersion program to bring Xochitl and the Flowers by composer Christopher Pratorius to life. Based on Jorge Argueta‘s bilingual book of the same name, with a libretto by Roma Olvera, the story is based on real events in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood, focusing on the Salvadoran immigrant experience. This fourth foray into children’s opera for the fearless opera company follows last year’s Amazing Grace, which featured a children’s chorus made of 4th and 5th grade students from St. Martin de Porres Catholic School.


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