Though historically a time for pensiveness, this year's busy fall schedule offers little time for rest or reflection.
The San Francisco Opera drives the point home by starting its season with two rousing grand operas: the Old Testament bacchanal of Saint-Saëns' Samson and Delilah (Sept. 7-28) and Wagner's own lusty Tannhäuser (Sept. 18-Oct. 12). Philip Glass' Appomattox (Oct. 5-24) and Mozart's Magic Flute (Oct. 13-Nov. 3) follow quickly on their heels. The SF Lyric Opera then laughs in the face of winter with Strauss' comic operetta Die Fledermaus (Dec. 7-15).
October sees the SF Symphony welcoming several guest soloists and conductors: violinist Itzhak Perlman takes on Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and Brahms (Oct. 3-7); pianist Andras Schiff tackles the complete Beethoven sonatas (Oct. 7 & 14); and conductor Kurt Masur leads the symphony through Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky (Oct. 18-21). Meanwhile, the - Traci Vogel plays all Brahms, all the time at its October 28 performance. The Gay Men's Chorus comes "Home for the Holidays" at the Castro Theatre in December (Dec. 14 and 24).
On the lit front, Alice Walker discusses the futility of war at Books Inc. (Sept. 25), and Naomi Klein dissects the dark world of "disaster capitalism" at the First Unitarian Universalist Church (Sept. 26). Speaking roles for musicians are a highlight at the Herbst Theatre, where Aimee Mann (Sept. 19), Bob Mould (Oct. 16), and Henry Rollins (Nov. 6) will chat up the crowd. Also landing at the Herbst are Alice Sebold (Oct. 22), Richard Russo (Oct. 29), and Eric Schlosser (Nov. 29), while the annual Litquake fest shakes up the entire city (Oct. 6-13).
Theater gets weirder at the SF Fringe Festival (Sept. 5-16). Not to be outdone, the American Conservatory Theater cuts through the bloody Sweeney Todd (Aug. 30-Sept. 30), the YBCA summons quirky and absurd Dutch company Kassys (Sept. 14), and Berkeley's Aurora Theatre gets Freudian with Hysteria (Aug. 24-Sept. 30).
If that's not enough madness, the modern dance world writhes with serious intensity. The Erika Shuch Performance Project brings its new work, 51802, about the psychological traumas of incarceration, to Intersection for the Arts (Sept. 13-29). ODC's Brenda Way choreographs the music of Laurie Anderson in Unintended Consequences, a meditation on destruction and violence (Sept. 17). And Bill T. Jones' world-famous dance troupe brings Chapel/Chapter — a "hyper-physical, aggressively virtuosic" translation of the media's deleterious effect on daily life — to the YBCA (Oct. 19-21).
Too much angst? Indulge in aristocratic luxury at the Legion of Honor exhibition featuring Marie Antoinette's Petit Trianon furniture, paintings, and sculpture (Nov. 17-Feb. 17). More contemporary art is on view at the de Young's spotlight on photographer David "Chim" Seymour (Sept. 29-Feb. 24). And SFMOMA showcases assemblages by Joseph Cornell (Oct. 6-Jan. 6) and video art from Douglas Gordon (Oct. 27-Feb. 24).
Across the Bay, Yoshi's lets you pick your jazz niche: avant-garde pianist Matthew Shipp (Oct. 17), New-Agey guitar-vocal duo Tuck and Patti (Nov. 23-25), or fusion icon Chick Corea (Dec. 11-16). Look for Yoshi's to open an S.F. location this fall, but in the meantime, Pearl's keeps rolling steady with jazz diva Vanessa Rubin (Sept. 7-9), Supplicants sax man Richard Howell (Sept. 13-16), and guitarist Terrence Brewer (Sept. 28-30).
Finally, it's film-festivals-a-go-go this fall. There are separate fests for Arabs (Oct. 18-28), American Indians (Nov. 2-10), South Asians (Nov. 10-12), and trannies (dates TBA). Don't fit into those demographics? Try out the woman-centric MadCat fest (Sept. 11-26), SF Indie's documentary fest (Sept. 28-Oct. 10), ATA's shorts fest (Oct. dates TBA), CounterCorp's anti-corporate fest (Oct. 19-21), or Good Vibrations' amateur erotic film competition (Oct. 11). Whew!