Arts & Events

DON'T MISS THIS: Nixon in China and More

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Thursday June 14, 2012 - 04:13:00 PM

Get out your engagement calendar, friends. You can't imagine all the great things happening in the bay area this summer -- art, drama, opera and movies, all richly deserving of your time and attention. 

Without question, the most exciting event of the year is San Francisco's Opera production of John Adams opera, "Nixon In China," a moving recreation of a disgraced president's visit to China. It's been called "the greatest American opera of the last quarter century." Indeed, Berkeley is honored to have as its citizen the brilliant and prolific composer, John Adams. You might spot him someday in the College Avenue Safeway, as I did this past week. 

One might wonder about the subject of this opera -- a mythical and elusive depiction of Nixon's 1972 trip to Beijing to meet with his erstwhile adversary, Mao Zedong. But a review in the S.F. Chronicle this week points to Adams' tenderhearted vigor, with special attention to the lovely and banal Act 2 aria of Pat Nixon. Director Michael Cavanagh's production captures the work's sense of artfully composed tableaux. "Nixon" unfolds over three acts, each a dramatic microcosm with its own distinctive shape. Again, it's no wonder that Adams is regarded as one of the nation's leading composers, following closely on his "Dr. Atomic" opera. He was on hand at last Friday's performance at the S.F. Opera House, receiving thunderous applause. The opera will be performed on June 17, 22, 26, 30 and July 3. For information, call (415) 864-3330

For all you theatre lovers, here are just a few of the plays now showing in the bay area: Eve Ensler's "Black and Blue Boys, " written and performed by Dael Oldersmith ("mesmerizing, incisively written and masterfully performed"), now playing through June 25, Berkeley Rep. , (510) 647-2949; "Salomnia stages Mark Johnson's world premiere of his historical drama about San Francisco's famed Maud Allen, famed for her early 20th Century "Dance of the Seven Veils", destroyed by an Oscar Wilde-like trial in London. Opens June 21 through July 22. Aurora Theatre, (510) 843-4822

A.C.T. will be showing ""The Scottsboro Boys," (the best new musical of the year) beginning June 2l. (415) 749-2228. "American Idiot," the Green Day musical of disaffected youth that went from Berkeley Rep to Broadway fame, opens Wednesday through July 8 at the Orpheum Theatre, S.S. (888) 746-1799

If you're into dance, you'll definitely want to catch the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, playing at several locations -- Fort Mason Center, Asian Art Museum, de Young Museum and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts through July 1. ("A glorious achievement" according to The New York Times.) 

As for art, actress Kim Novak, who you may remember for her role in "Vertigo," several years ago, now unveils her art at an exhibit, using tex panels, photographs, posters and vintage cameras. Slide shows, lectures and book signings will be part of the exhibit June 24, 11 a.m. - 4: p.m. at the Old Mint , 88 Fifth Street, S.F. ( 

I've no doubt missed several outstanding cultural events, but the above-mentioned affairs should keep you happily occupied this summer.