Cy and David's Picks: A New Look for an Ethiopian Princess, a French Duo, and a Young Group Joins the Circus

Carola Zertuche, artistic director of the 50-year-old company Theatre Flamenco. (Photo: Andy Mogg)

Every week, KQED's Cy Musiker and the San Francisco Chronicle’s David Wiegand share their picks for great events around the Bay Area.

For this pre-election roundup, we have to first mention that comics Karinda Dobbins and Dhaya Lakshminarayanan are co-hosting One Nation Under Comedy at the New Parkway on Friday night, Nov. 4th. Details here. Now for the list.

Nov. 5–Dec 6: The big news is the look. San Francisco Opera (with three other companies) is staging a brand-new production of Verdi's Aida, the story of an Egyptian military commander who falls for a Nubian princess enslaved by the Pharaoh. For the production, Los Angeles street artist Retna (Marquis Lewis) has created extravagantly colorful sets full of his hieroglyphic-like designs. Leah Crocetto, a young soprano with a gorgeous voice who trained at SF Opera’s Merola program, plays Aida, while tenor Brian Jagde plays Radamès. Details here.

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Nov. 4–6: The Bay Area is a very flamenco-friendly place, partly because of the work of Theatre Flamenco, which celebrates its 50th anniversary with the show El Latir del Tiempo (The Beat of Time). The company traces its history back to the 1950s, when Flamenco lovers would jam at the Spaghetti Factory in North Beach. Guests for these anniversary concerts include Spanish dancer Pastora Galván, who first performed with Theatre Flamenco at the age of 15, and singer Juana la del Pipa from Jerez de la Frontera (they also make Sherry there). Artistic Director Carola Zertuche, who has revitalized the company, is also celebrating her 10th season as artistic director. Sounds like a dance party. Details here.

Nov. 10: Her is a French duo, Victor Solf and Simon Carpentier, who sing in English and seem to think that smooth jazz is still a happening thing. It's the sort of insinuating music that would be great for cocktail parties or making out on the couch -- and we're down with that. Details for their show at the Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco on Thursday are here. 

Anna May Wong - Certificate of Identity from the National Archives
Anna May Wong - Certificate of Identity from the National Archives. (Photo: Courtesy of Chinese Historical Society of America)

Opens Nov. 5: The Chinese Historical Society of America in San Francisco is the oldest museum dedicated to the Chinese American experience in the United States, and it’s reopening after a summer of renovations to its Julia Morgan-designed building with a big exhibit, Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion. (The show was organized by the New York Historical Society). It's about what it means to be Chinese American in a country that has alternately exploited Chinese labor and barred Chinese from entry. If you think it’s a new trend to blame immigrants for crime and taking American jobs, this exhibit will show how old and wrongheaded that kind of bigotry is, an important lesson this election year. Details here.

Performer TT Robson in a new circus show at Kinetic Arts Productions
Performer TT Robson in a new circus show at Kinetic Arts Productions. (Photo: ShootThatKlown.com (Eric Gillet))

Nov. 4–Dec 18: The Kinetic Arts Center is a little circus school in West Oakland, close to the West Oakland BART station, and for the second year in a row -- like a scrappy little Cirque du Soleil -- they're putting on a show. This year, it’s called Inversion: Circus Disobedience -- a play on the phrase "civil disobedience." Director Jaron Hollander is very eloquent in explaining why circus arts are a great way to tell a story: "It takes an amazing amount of passion to climb up on that trapeze to get that height," Hollander told me, as kids tumbled and soared around us in the center's warehouse like buiding. "So a person that is not as limited to gravity as most of us is incredibly powerful. The expression can go physically higher. But it also is deeper. The shape of a body in the air is just powerful." Details on what should be a terrific show for adults and kids alike are here.

Nov. 7 and 8: Har Mar Superstar (Spencer Tillmann) is something of a joker, with a serious love of everything from old school R&B, to synth-pop, to proto-punk of the 1970s. His new album channels that affection into a fake greatest hits album, Best Summer Ever, spanning 1950-1985. My partner in the Do List David Weigand swears he looks like Al Molinaro from Happy Days and The Odd Couple, but he agrees the music rocks. Details for his show at the Chapel on Monday are here, and his show at Don Quixote's on Tuesday in Felton are here.

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