Merola Opera singers ready to thrill at Grand Finale in SF

It’s always a grand night for singing when the Merola Grand Finale rolls around.

Never been to one? You’re in for a treat. This weekend, the Bay Area’s premier opera institute caps its 12-week training program for singers, apprentice coaches and stage directors with the annual concert at the War Memorial Opera House, where this year’s “Merolini” will present a fully staged program of arias, duets and ensembles from some of the world’s best-loved operas.

The evening is both a tour of opera’s greatest hits and an introduction to the up-and-coming artists who will be singing them well into the future.

Now in its 61st season, the Merola Opera Program has established a phenomenal track record. Named for San Francisco Opera founder Gaetano Merola, it offers training and master classes in voice, repertory, language, acting and stage movement. The program has launched the careers of such starry divas and divos as sopranos Anna Netrebko and Deborah Voigt, mezzo-sopranos Joyce DiDonato and Susan Graham, tenor Rolando Villazon, baritone Thomas Hampson and conductor Patrick Summers.

This year’s Merola artists have already given thrilling performances in fully staged productions of Mozart’s “Il Re Pastore” and Stravinsky’s “The Rake’s Progress.” The Grand Finale, conducted by Dean Williamson and directed by 2018 Merola apprentice stage director Marcus Shields, includes selections from Bernstein’s “Trouble in Tahiti,” Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” Puccini’s “La Rondine,” Massenet’s “Thaïs,” Verdi’s “Rigoletto,” and more.

Details: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 18, War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco; concert $25-$50; separate post-show reception tickets $75; 415-864-3330;

…read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


Artists, fans push music festivals to tackle sex harassment

By KRISTIN M. HALL | The Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — When Emma Friedman went to her first rock festival at the age of 17, she was so excited to get to see bands she loved in a festival environment. But as she was leaving, she recalls her mom making a comment like, “Are you sure you want to wear those shorts?”

Friedman didn’t think anything of it until she got groped at the festival.

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“They were what I felt confident in and what made me feel comfortable,” said Friedman, who is now 20 and going to school in Asheville, North Carolina. “And then I was crowd surfing and some guy was trying to be inappropriate.”

Friedman said her friend who accompanied her was groped so hard she bled.

Friedman is one of many music fans who have spoken up about sexual harassment and groping at musical festivals recently as the #MeToo movement has emboldened more people to talk about harassment in public spaces. With increased focus on the longstanding problem but little statistical data on how often it happens, music fans and even artists are asking the live music industry to make cultural changes.

This year, Friedman went back to the same festival, called Carolina Rebellion, this time armed with a sign that said, “Stop Sexually Assaulting Female Crowd Surfers.” She said the response was overwhelmingly positive with both women and men thanking her for her sign.

“I just want there to be a conversation and for people to feel safer and be able to enjoy concerts and festivals without the fear,” Friedman said.

Some festivals are responding to these complaints by training festival staff and volunteers on how to respond …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt once spent up to $10 million a year on kids, report says

Like all parents, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have learned that raising children in America doesn’t come cheap. Of course, it’s especially expensive for globe-trotting movie stars who, until they decided to break up in 2016, had a combined estimated net worth of $400 million.

Angelina Jolie and her son Pax arrive for the 75th Golden Globe Awards in January 2018. (VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images)

And now Jolie and Bitt are dividing their assets and publicly bickering over how to share expenses related to their six children. That means they can’t help but open up a window into how many millions of dollars they have reportedly spent on housing, feeding, educating, dressing and transporting — via private planes, of course — their offspring, Maddox, 17, Pax, 14, Zahara, 13, Shiloh, 12, and 10-year-old twins Vivienne and Knox.

In 2011, a report put Jolie and Pitt’s annual childcare expenses at $10 million a year.

For some perspective, $10 million is a lot more than the estimated $12,000 to $14,000 per child per year that regular Americans spend, according to U.S. government figures. And $10 million a year eclipses the estimated $245,340 that parents should expect to spend on care for each child over their first 17 years, excluding college.

It’s also possible that the $10 million Jolie and Pitt once reportedly spent on their children has increased since 2011.They should expect massive bills if one or more of their children heads to college. It’s hard to imagine any of the Jolie-Pitt kids going to a relatively less expensive state university since their education up to this point has reportedly only come from private tutors.

This $10 million figure originally came from Bonnie Fuller, the Us Weekly and Cosmopolitan veteran editor who currently runs Hollywood Life, Forbes reported. Fuller said the $10 million went to: $5 …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


It’s David Byrne Week in SF Bay Area — here’s how to celebrate

Happy David Byrne Week, Bay Area.

No, there hasn’t been an proclamation from the governor, or anything. But there might as well be, since Byrne will be practically everywhere in Northern California over the next bunch of days.

Look! There he is now!

OK, so maybe he’s not actually at the same Carl’s Jr. as we are right now.

You will, however, find the former leader of the legendary Talking Heads if you visit the Fox Theatre in Oakland on Aug. 16-17. (8 p.m.; $65-$135,

After that two-night stand, Byrne is scheduled to visit the City National Civic Auditorium in San Jose on Aug. 18. (8 p.m.; $55-$150,

Next up? The post-punk/New Wave/art-pop pioneer performs Aug. 21 at the Sacramento Community Center Theater. (8 p.m.; $55-$150,

Byrne closes his five-night Northern California run with a show on Aug. 22 at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. (8 p.m.; $65-$175,

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The vocalist is out on the road in support of his long-awaited 11th solo studio album, “American Utopia,” which is his first full-length solo set since 2004’s “Grown Backwards.”

Hopefully, Byrne will include a few Talking Heads …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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