AMAHL AND THE NIGHT VISITORS
A modern Christmas tradition will be observed this weekend when Giancarlo Menotti’s opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors, a charming retelling of the story of the Three Wise Men and Epiphany, will be performed at 8 p.m. tonight (Friday) and 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon at St. Augustine’s Church, 400 Alcatraz. Menotti was Italian-born, but his very successful career was mostly in America. He has been too easily dismissed as “facile,” as other worthy successes have often been, musical tastes having changed since his heyday. But the founder of the Spoleto Festival and composer of The Consul, that unsentimental opera about the wife of a resistance figure seeking asylum from a police state, deserves a sympathetic ear and eye. His productions, including the much-loved Amahl, were that modern rarity: both popular and intelligent, never talking or playing down to an audience, or oversentimentalizing themes that often get kitschy treatment.
BENEFIT AT YOSHI’S
Eminent jazz pianist George Cables, long-time Bay Area favorite and collaborator with many great players here and in New York, recently received liver and kidney transplants. This Saturday afternoon, 1-3:30 p.m., there’ll be a benefit at Yoshi’s, to help defray medical and recuperation costs, featuring such notables as Bobby Hutcher-son, Gary Bartz, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Mel Martin, Ray Drummond, Eddie Marshall, Mary Stallings, Denise Perrier, Babatunde Lea, Calvin Keys and over a dozen other well-known players and singers, plus special surprise guests. $30 donation. Tickets available through www.yoshis.com or 238-9200.