Archive for the ‘Downtown’ Category

It’s time to prepare for 2017-2018 Opera San Jose!

Opera San Jose has been busy preparing for its new season, and it’s time for us to start marking our calendars.  Opening night is September 9, and the first show is Mozart’s Così fan tutte.

Thinking himself worldly and experienced, Don Alfonso decides to relieve his young friends, Ferrando and Gugliemo, of their faith in sexual fidelity. He challenges them to a bet, promising that within 24 hours their fiancées will prove unfaithful. Outraged, they accept, but find the challenge too painfully revealing and too difficult to withstand. Dressed in clown’s clothes, these young men break their own hearts and the hearts of their fiancées. A comedy that is a tragedy underneath is the perfect stuff for the uncanny genius of Mozart, so clearly revealed in this dazzling score.

There will be only six performances of this amazing show at the California Theatre, so check your calendar and buy your tickets now! Prices range from $10 for students, ages 25 and younger with a current student ID, and $56 to $176 for adults. Box office phone: 408-437-4450 or go to operasj.org.

Can’t make the show? Check out the preview!
Così fan tutte Preview: August 29, 2017 from 12 – 1 p.m., California Theatre, 345 S. First Street in  downtown San José; Free vocal preview with members of the cast. For information, call 408-437-4450.

For opera beginners (and pros!) there’s never a need to feel like a novice:
Introduction to Opera
: General Director Larry Hancock will present a free 45-minute talk to ticket holders about the opera at the California Theatre before each performance of Così fan tutte. The talk begins at 6:30pm prior to evening performances and at 1:30pm prior to Sunday matinees. No reservations required.  

Così fan tutte
Opera San Jose
September 9 thru September 24
California Theatre
345 S. First Street, San Jose

Free Skating Downtown Ice San Jose

downtowniceBring your own skates to get free admission on Monday January 9 and 16, 2017 from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm at Downtown Ice in San Jose.

Children 13 and under must be supervised at all times by a parent or guardian 18 or older.
No lockers or secure storage on site.

Parking garages include: Market and San Pedro Square, Second and San Carlos, Third Street and Fourth Street.

Downtown Ice
120 S. Market St.

San Jose, 95113
(408) 610-4055

The Fairmont’s Winter Wonderland

fairmont-winter
Holiday decorations will transform the Fairmont’s lobby into a Winter Wonderland. The Fairmont’s Winter Wonderland will be on display from November 25, 2016 through January 1, 2017.

Near the Fairmont is the real Winter Wonderland along with Downtown Ice and Christmas in the Park.

The Fairmont
170 South Market Street, San Jose 95113
November 25, 2016 through January 1, 2017
All Day
Free

Veterans Day Parade 2016

animated_american-flagVeterans Day is Friday, November 11.

Veterans Day Parade from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM begins from Delmas Avenue (near SAP Center) and travels east along Santa Clara Street to Market Street. The Parade then proceeds south on Market Street and ends at San Carlos Street.

California is home to 1,851,470 veterans.

This year the parade Grand Marshall is Brigadier General Laura Yeager.

“Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as he best can, the same cause.” – Abraham Lincoln

The National Park Service invites all visitors to remember our veterans by visiting any National Park Service site free on Veterans Day, November 11, 2016.

Veterans Day Parade
Delmas Ave and Santa Clara Street
San Jose, 95113
Friday, November 11
Free
Parking (plan early): Downtown

A Streetcar Named Desire – Opera Style!

Opera San José resident artist Matthew Hanscom as “Stanley” and guest artists Ariana Strahl as “Blanche” and Stacey Tappan as “Stella”. Photo credit Pat Kirk.

Opera San José resident artist Matthew Hanscom as “Stanley” and guest artists Ariana Strahl as “Blanche” and Stacey Tappan as “Stella”. Photo credit Pat Kirk.

Opera San Jose has really been outdoing itself this year, as it does every year.  February’s Carmen was outstanding, and now they have taken a dip in the theatre-pond, bringing us Mr. Tennessee Williams. Did you know A Streetcar Named Desire was also an opera by André Previn? Well there was no way I was going to miss this. I was so excited to see this show, in a completely different way than I usually am.

As soon as you step into the California Theatre you can see this opera is going to be different. The curtain was already up and there were actors already on stage sitting on chairs! And not a velvet gown in sight. These were manly men, shirtless and dirty, drinking from bottles as they lounged in the chairs waiting for us to sit. Also, the orchestra was behind the stage. All of this was so different from anything I’d seen at the opera before, I was bouncing in my chair waiting for it to begin.

Opera San José resident artists Matthew Hanscom as “Stanley” and Kirk Dougherty at “Mitch”. Photo credit Pat Kirk.

Opera San José resident artists Matthew Hanscom as “Stanley” and Kirk Dougherty at “Mitch”. Photo credit Pat Kirk.

Now I’ll be honest. It had to grow on me. When Ariana Strahl as Blanche DuBois strolls onstage and starts singing my mind had a terribly difficult time connecting what I was seeing to what I was hearing.  My heart fell just a tiny bit as I realized I might not enjoy it as much as I had anticipated. But the music was outstanding, it has the feel of a 1950s film score.  And of course the story of Blanche, and Stanley, and STELLAAAAAAAAA is fantastic no matter what, so I sat and tried to enjoy the show as much as I could.

Fear not, it was already growing on me before the first intermission (there are two).  And it wasn’t long before I realized Streetcar is actually your typical opera story: the male is somewhat of a… trying to come up with a family friendly adjective here… jerk.  Yeah, let’s call him that.  So your main male character is a big, fat, jerk, and the main female that the story revolves around is basically a whore.  Sigh.  And because Streetcar is no Comedy, we know what’s going to happen to the “whore” in the end.

If you’ve never seen or read Streetcar in any version before, note that this is not a show for young children. There is talk of homosexuality, suicide, “loose women”, domestic violence and a choreographed rape.  The setting is a tough time in a tough neighborhood where men earn the money and the women do what they’re told. But it is also an amazing, touching story, and the entire production is done extremely well.

Stacey Tappan is a luscious Stella, Matthew Hanscom is as manly a Stanley as you can get, and I adored Kirk Dougherty as Mitch. But another standout for me was Cabiria Jacobsen as Eunice. She has a smaller role, but it was a great one.

Opera San José resident artist Kirk Dougherty as “Mitch” and guest artist Ariana Strahl as “Blanche”. Photo credit Pat Kirk.

Opera San José resident artist Kirk Dougherty as “Mitch” and guest artist Ariana Strahl as “Blanche”. Photo credit Pat Kirk.

The finale of the show at opening night got the standing ovation that it deserved.  From the catchy, more “modern” music, to the 1950s era costumes, to our amazing resident opera singers, and even the sparse, perfect staging, this is an outstanding production. It did grow on me, and then it bloomed, and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to see the show. I think the show might be a very good introduction to opera newbies, but the music and voices are the usual perfection to please long-time opera fans as well. Perhaps even some English majors can get their noses out of their books and get out for a night to see a story really brought to life.

I’m so glad the show is going to be playing all the way through May 1. It is a great show to end the season with, while we look forward to next year which will include:

Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor
Rossini’s The Barber of Seville
Puts & Campbell’s Silent Night
Puccini’s La bohème

Don’t miss this amazing modern opera at the California Theatre.

A Streetcar Named Desire
Opera San Jose
playing through May 1
Tickets

 

SJ Opera: Where Angels Fear to Tread

Opera San José resident artists Chloe Smart as "Padrona, the innkeeper" and Lisa Chavez as "Harriet Herriton," guest artist Jennie Litster as "the Opera Singer, " and Opera San José resident artist Kirk Dougherty as "Philip Herriton".  Photo credit Pat Kirk

Opera San José resident artists Chloe Smart as “Padrona, the innkeeper” and Lisa Chavez as “Harriet Herriton,” guest artist Jennie Litster as “the Opera Singer, ” and Opera San José resident artist Kirk Dougherty as “Philip Herriton”. Photo credit Pat Kirk

This weekend I attended the World Premiere of Opera San Jose‘s Where Angels Fear to Tread, based on the novel by E.M. Forster, and I haven’t really stopped thinking about it since. I was very excited to see a brand new opera. Good or bad it is great to occasionally see something new, and that is a pretty rare occasion with opera. I felt like it had a shaky start, and I had some issues with the story itself, but as an opera it was completely enjoyable and I would definitely go see it again – something I do not often say.

I have not read Forster’s story, but the opera was quite an emotional roller coaster and I’m still not sure if this is considered a tragedy or comedy.  It opens with Lilia, a young English widow, and her friend Caroline Abbot vacationing in Italy. Lilia’s brother-in-law Phillip has rushed to see them because he has heard that Lilia has fallen in love with a young Italian, Gino, and not only that, but the young man is – hold on to your hats, folks – the son of a DENTIST. I know, it can’t get much worse than that, right??  Well, this is apparently a horrific situation to the English, but Phillip is too late as Lilia has impetuously gone out and married the young man already. Several months later we see the marriage has not gone well, but Lilia is now pregnant, so once again it is too late. But then Lilia dies in childbirth and her English in-laws have decided there is no way they will let the child be brought up by those wretched Italians (especially the son of a dentist! *GASP*) so Phillip and his sister come back to Italy to try to convince Gino to give them his son. Caroline Abbott also wants to adopt the boy, and is upset that the English family is really only concerned about appearances.

But then another tragedy strikes, and it is so upsetting I thought the woman sitting next to me was going to collapse in a fit. She could not stop exclaiming and clutching her hands to her heart until the end of the opera, and I have to agree, it was shocking and truly tragic.

And yet there is a lot of comedy in this opera too, including an adorable dachshund who completely steals the show at the end of Act I. I have heard the dog was trained to howl on cue, but it appeared to the audience that he was barking for everyone to STOP THAT SINGING and Act I ended with the audience in hysterics.  Later, almost immediately after the tragedy in Act III, Phillip gets his heart broken by the woman he loves, and it was a bit funny so we all laughed at him while also feeling weird for laughing so soon after the tragedy. The play ends with both Phillip and Gino deciding to live it up and be happy in Italy while the two women seem to sulk back to England, alone. How nice that the men, once again in opera, get to have the happy endings.

Guest artist Christie Conover as “Caroline Abbott”. Photo credit Pat Kirk.

Guest artist Christie Conover as “Caroline Abbott”. Photo credit Pat Kirk.

The story may have given me some problems, but opera storylines often do with me. The opera itself however was spectacular. I was not too thrilled in the beginning, when I had troubles understanding the connections with the music, the libretto, and what was going on, but by the end of Act I I was all in, and from that point on the music and singing were simply amazing.  Jenny Litster has a small part as the Opera Singer, but she was adorable and completely won over the audience (along with the amazing dachshund). Guest artist Christie Conover plays Caroline Abbott and did an outstanding job, and I hope we can see more of her in the future. But the winner of the night was Brian James Myer, who stepped into the role of Gino when Matthew Hanscom was unable to perform. Brian James Myer made the show. During intermission the audience could not stop talking about the song he sang to his baby. It was a moving performance and made the later tragedy that much more horrendous and upsetting. When he is given his tragic news later, he sobs into Caroline’s lap in a scene that tore at our hearts. At the end he was given the loudest applause, and he deserved it. Brian James Myer is a name to look for in the future.

Aside from the bumpy beginning, which may have been problematic for no one else but me, the Opera Novice, the rest of the opera was incredible. Conductor Joseph Marcheso did a masterful job leading the orchestra. I particularly loved a short piccolo (possibly flute) solo, and there are plenty of oboe parts which are always my favorite. This is the World Premiere, and I look forward to hearing the music in the future and seeing the opera again as well.

The stage was set beautifully in Italy, with several tall columns that were turned to create slightly different scenes: a hotel lobby, a sitting room, a dining room, etc. The lighting, especially in the opening scene, was simply breathtaking.  The opera is in English with supertitles in English.

I may have issues with the story, but I have no problem recommending this opera or the music. I commend Opera San Jose for giving a new piece a chance and obviously putting a lot of time, effort, sweat and tears and money into this production. It was well worth it.

Where Angels Fear to Tread
Opera San Jose
Through February 22
California Theatre

 

Silicon Valley Auto Show

AutoShow2The exhibit includes Passenger Cars & Commercial Vehicles, Auto Body Builders, Two & Three Wheelers, Tires, Alternative Fuel & Fuel Systems, Batteries, Oil & Lubricants, Auto Components, Tools.

Location:
San Jose McEnery Convention Center
150 West San Carlos Street
San Jose, CA 95113

When:
Friday (1/9/15)
  until 10 pm
Saturday (1/10/15)
  10 am – 10 pm
Sunday (1/11/15)
  10 am – 6 pm

Admission:
Adults (13 & over) $11
Senior Citizens (62 & over) $8
Students (25 & under w/ID) $8
Military (With any DOD ID) $8
Children (7–12) $8
Children (6 & under) Free

Note: Family Day is Sunday, Jan. 11
All children 12 & under admitted 
Free with paying adult.

Parking:
  Information

  Onsite paid parking is also available at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center

King Arthur visits City Lights Theater in SPAMALOT

 

King Arthur (Ken Boswell, in crown) has a jolly old time with the folk of Camelot

King Arthur (Ken Boswell, in crown) has a jolly old time with the folk of Camelot

City Lights Theater Company has gone ambitious this summer as it presents the comedy extravaganza Monty Python’s Spamalot!  This is one of my favorite shows because it’s just so irreverent and complete fun.  There is nothing serious in this show, there are no deep hidden meanings, and there is so much going on at any and all times that glitches are guaranteed to happen every single night… and it is always fun and hilarious to see how these professional performers manage to overcome the unexpected.  When you are in need of a show that is strictly fun entertainment in its purest form, Spamalot is the one to see.

The show recreates many scenes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, with a lot of Broadway mixed in.  You will see killer rabbits, and cows tossed from the ramparts, the Black Knight receives a flesh wound or four, and included in the show is the one thing the film is missing: a plethora of dancing girls.  The story is of King Arthur’s search for a team of worthy knights who will help him on his quest to find the Holy Grail.  On the way they must all avoid the plague, find a nice shrubbery for the Knights Who Say Ni, and rescue a Damsel in Distress Prince Herbert.  Watching the film first is not necessary, so if you have been deprived of the Monty Python movie experience, rest assured you will still have a rollicking great time (and then go rent the film for gosh sakes, why haven’t you seen it yet??).

Almost all the actors play multiple parts, requiring many costume changes, and there is constant choreography and singing.  There is a lot of acting and singing talent required to put this show on, and stage and set work behind the scenes that is unimaginably difficult.  City Lights does a tremendous job with their smaller theater and budget, so that you don’t miss a thing and an amazing time is had by all.  Kudos to director Jeffrey Bracco for pulling off this amazing feat so well, and to Jennifer Gorgulho for managing to choreograph an incredible number of constantly moving people.

Spamalot is running through August 31, but shows have already started to sell out, so get your tickets now before you miss it.  And before you get to the theater, stop off at Psycho Donuts for their special Spam Wellington Donut, a savory creation filled with layers of Spam and mushroom duxelle.  This surprisingly delicious treat was served at the Opening Night Gala along with mead from Alderin’s Meadery and catered food from Cafe Stritch A big thanks to all these companies for supporting City Lights Theater Company and local theater!

 

Monty Python’s Spamalot
Through August 31
City Lights Theater Company
529 South Second Street, San Jose

Main Stage Ticket Pricing:
Adult: $30
Student: $17
Educator: $17
Senior: $25

Did Somebody Say #Bacon Festival AND Fireworks?

Bacon Festival

What’s not to love about a bacon festival with fireworks too? July 4th and 5th is the second annual Movable Feast Bacon Festival on the Plaza de Cesar Chavez. They’ve expanded to two full days of food, entertainment, music and SJStreet Mart vendors with everything from henna tattoos and organic indigo to jewelry, clothing and more.

The food
Throughout the day there will be a load of food trucks including the famous Bacon Bacon and Baconbot trucks. Even if bacon isn’t your favorite thing there are plenty of other options from Grilled Cheese bandits, Madd Mex Cantina, Tastee Bytes, Chromatic Coffee, Treatbot and Fairycakes. Here’s the list of food vendors.

Entertainment
Kick up your heels to Yeshua and the Hi-Tones, Anya and the Getdown, The People and The Honey Wilders and watch the Pro Wrestling Revolution at several times both days. Silly Ricky the stilt juggler will be there as well as Brian the Bubble guy to entertain the kids. This is definitely a family friendly event.

Fireworks will start at 9:30 on July 4th courtesy of the San Jose Rotary Club

Here’s the full schedule and be sure to get tickets in advance at a discounted price. (Kids tickets are free online)

Foodie Alert- San Jose DishCrawl


If you don’t know about Dishcrawl yet listen up. The idea is simple, find great food and create a convivial atmosphere for foodies to explore local cuisine, meet the chefs and mingle with other foodies. If you’re looking for local food culture, to meet other people interested in food, or to find the best local restaurants, DishCrawl is for you!
DishCrawl San Jose is kicking off the summer tonight (Tuesday June 17) in partnership with the San Jose Downtown Association to offer the “Best of San Jose” Dishcrawl series which will take  you on a culinary journey to three of downtown San Jose’s top spots for food and nightlife. If you can’t make it to tonight’s kick-off, don’t worry, they’ll be crawling at the same 3 delicious spots every Tuesday until the end of August.

In typical Dishcrawl style, not all of the restaurants are announced in advance. We know we’ll be going to Fahrenheit Restaurant and Lounge where guests will be treated to an amazing trio of skirt steak, brussels sprout salad and their famous deviled egg. Fahrenheit combines a farm to table cuisine and some of the freshest produce, meats, seafood from the local organic farms with an amazing lounge setting.

The second stop will be Mezcal. Awarded as 2009’s Downtown’s Best New Restaurant, Chef Octavio Gomez ensures patrons will be ecstatic when they try their mini sea bass ceviche tostada, handmade corn quesadilla, or famous mole negro, a well-kept family recipe. This Oaxacan cuisine will make your taste buds scream for more.

The third and final stop will feature Loft Bar & Bistro where guests will try their, tender boneless teriyaki beef short rib, panko crusted chicken breast and white chocolate crème brulee. Loft combines their great American cuisine menu with their amazing rooftop patio and casual atmosphere.In addition to this inaugural event on Tuesday June 17th which will kick-off the San Jose Downtown Association’s, Dine Downtown Restaurant Week, DishCrawls will be hosting “crawls” on the dates listed below.

   Tuesday, June 24th

Tuesday, July 29th

Tuesday, July 1st

   Tuesday, August 5th

 Tuesday, July 8th

     Tuesday, August 12th

   Tuesday, July 15th

     Tuesday, August 19th

    Tuesday, July 22nd

     Tuesday, August 26th

Reservations are limited, but still being accepted dishcrawl.com/bestofsj

For more information about upcoming Dishcrawls visitdishcrawl.com/sanjose, check us out at facebook.com/dishcrawlSanJose or follow @Dishcrawlsj.

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