The Bay Area is a hub of artistic expression, attracting artists, writers and musicians from around the globe to live, work and create. We highlight some of the offerings here.

Freebie of the week: Get an early peek at Opera San Jose's upcoming production of Verdi’s “Rigoletto” as that auspicious company takes the opportunity to celebrate its 40th anniversary by jumping enthusiastically into the festivities for Downtown San Jose’s SoFa District’s “South First Friday” evening art walk this weekend. Multiple events at the California Theatre from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. include performances of music from the opera that will star baritone Eugene Brancoveanu in the title role, tours of the historic building conducted by knowledgeable ushers, a visit from the local artist Hey Balloon Lady!, a performance on the mighty Wurlitzer organ, cupcakes from San Jose’s Peter’s Bakery, whacks at a pinata from the party company Dulceria Mi Carnaval and a string quartet performance by musicians from the San Jose Opera Orchestra. Find information at southfirstfridays.com.  


From left, Roneet Aliza Rahamim, Melissa Mei Jones and Gabriella Goldstein star in City Lights Theater Company’s “Nora: A Doll’s House,” a retelling of the classic Ibsen play. (Photo by Evelyn Huynh/Courtesy City Lights Theater Co.)

New ‘House,’ same address: Henrik Ibsen shocked the theater world and infuriated audiences with his 1879 play “A Doll’s House,” which concludes— spoiler alert!—with a deeply unhappy and frustrated wife and mother walking out on her marriage. Matrimony and domesticity at the time were considered part of the basic life path for women and the idea that a wife could find these things unsatisfactory and abandon her husband and children went down about as easily as the notion of a portly, irritable reality TV show host running for president. But that’s all past us, isn’t it? Social gender norms and the institution of marriage have evolved into healthy bastions of society and everyone has moved on to more pressing problems, like why toilet paper and eggs are so expensive nowadays, right? British playwright Stef Smith poses that question (about marriage, not the price of eggs and toilet paper) in her 2019 update of the Ibsen classic, “Nora: A Doll’s House.” This version places Nora in three time frames—1918, 1968 and 2018—as she grapples with a dark secret that could wreck her seemingly flawless marriage. City Lights Theater Company is presenting the thought-provoking two-hour play through Feb. 18 at its theater, 529 S. Second St., San Jose. Tickets are $28-67; go to cltc.org.


Piano great Kenny Barron plays four different shows in four days at SFJAZZ Center Feb. 1-4. (Photo by John Sann/Courtesy Kenny Barron)

Barron’s beautiful world: Kenny Barron has long been considered one of true legends of jazz, a pianist with stunning technical skills and a voracious musical appetite that has led him to conquer countless jazz genres and settings. The National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master and 11-time Grammy nominee gained stardom in the early ‘60s with his work with Dizzy Gillespie and has worked with such luminaries as Freddie Hubbard, Yusef Lateef, Stan Getz, James Moody and Ron Carter. At 80, he remains at the top of his game as he settles in this week for a four-show run at the SFJAZZ Center, where he is a resident artistic director. True to his legendary versatility, Barron is performing four different concerts. At 7:30 p.m. Thursday, he plays with his renowned trio, including bassist Kiyoshi Kitagawa (with whom he has worked for 27 years) and drummer Johnathan Blake. At 7:30 p.m. Friday, her performs with the Kenny Barron Quintet (which includes his trip plus SFJAZZ Collective trumpeter Mike Rodriguez and Bay Area-raised saxophone great Dayna Stephens) in a concert that will spotlight his 2018 album “Concentric Circles.” At 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Barron will delve into a night of Brazilian jazz with a new band that includes flutist Anne Drummond, percussionist Valtinho Anastacio, drummer Rafael Barata, vibraphonist Nikara Warren (who happens to be his granddaughter) acclaimed bassist John Patitucci. And at 2 p.m. Sunday, he’ll head a show of wild improvisational jazz with renowned multi-instrumentalist Jen Shyu, young hotshot trombonist Kalia Vandever, bassist John Patitucci, and rising-star drummer Lesley Mok. All shows will be held in SFJAZZ’s Miner Auditorium. Tickets run $25-$105 and are going fast. Go to www.sfjazz.org.


Renowned Bay Area guitarist Terrence Brewer presents a tutorial with music on the history of the blues on Feb. 4 at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley. (Kara Wood/Strong Brew Music)

Brewer’s got the blues: Bay Area guitarist Terrence Brewer has won wide acclaim as a first-rate guitarist comfortable in dealing in jazz, blues and other forms of American roots music. He’s also developed a reputation as a first-rate educator. On Sunday, he gets to do a little of both in one show. The musician, band leader and producer is coming to the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley to present “Delta Deep Dive,” an immersive look at the history of the Mississippi Delta Blues. Part-concert, part-tutorial, the event will find Brewer discussing, with lots of musical accompaniment, the history of the blues and how the guitar became dominant in shaping the development of the music. The presentation will also feature audio and video clips and allow plenty of time for audience questions and answers. Along the way, Brewer, who has 11 albums to his credit, will touch on blues greats from B.B. King and Howlin’ Wolf to lesser known (but no less important) early artists such as Charlie Patton, Eddie “Son” House, and David “Honeyboy” Edwards to contemporary standard bearers such as Keb’ Mo’ and Bonnie Raitt. The presentation takes place at 1 p.m. Tickets are $25. Go to thefreight.org.


Cellist Douglas Machiz is in the trio from the Berkeley Symphony performing in “Spirited Impressions” in Piedmont. (Courtesy Samantha Godoy)

Fabulous and French: Berkeley Symphony is calling its next chamber music concert “Spirited Impressions,” as it features four pieces displaying the vibrancy, romance and breadth of that French art form as played by cellist Douglas Machiz, violinist Sarah Elert and pianist Alison Lee in the intimate environs of the Piedmont Center for the Arts, 801 Magnolia Ave., at 4 p.m. Sunday. On the program are the Gabriel Fauré Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Swiss-born Parisian Arthur Honegger’s Sonatine for Violin and Cello, Berkeley composer Jean Ahn’s “A Flashback of Ravel” (an homage to that great French composer) and Claude Debussy’s sweet and sentimental Trio in G Major. Find tickets, and information about another concert in the orchestra’s chamber series, at (510) 841-2800 or berkeleysymphony.org.