1. This opera's no phantom
Due to overwhelming fan and community support, the San Diego Opera is back from the brink of death and rumored to be better than ever. The company's 2014-2015 season—which coincides with its 50th anniversary—was called off earlier this year amid former Executive Director Ian Campbell's attempt to shutter the institution, citing dire fundraising and financial difficulties.
But before folks start inspecting the opera's new season for dramatic changes, it should be noted that the company was already contractually bound to most of the performances this year and even next. The real, big, bold programming changes won't really start to take effect until 2017.
"So, stay tuned," says San Diego Opera spokesperson Edward Wilensky. "By then, you'll definitely see a version of the new and nimbler San Diego Opera."
Still, there have been some significant structural improvements already. The most noticeable—and necessary, in frugal CityBeat's opinion—is a drop in ticket and subscription prices. Also, a few more alternative opera performances have been squeezed in this season, including smaller recitals and a mariachi opera that sounds really fun.
The new season's kickoff performance isn't a huge departure for the opera, but it does signal some of the directional changes the company's making by featuring slightly hipper performers in a more intimate venue, with ticket prices that start at $20.
At 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 5, the young and lauded Ailyn Pérez and Stephen Costello will perform a recital at the Balboa Theatre (868 Fourth Ave, Downtown), launching the promotional tour for their new album, Love Duets. They'll perform favorites from operas and musicals like La Bohème, The Elixir of Love, West Side Story and more.
"They've been called the Beyoncé and Jay-Z of opera by many media outlets," Wilensky says with a laugh, adding that the powerhouse operatic vocalists are also married in real life. "They are some of the hottest singers out there today."
2. All Greek to you
You might know about the popular San Diego Greek Festival in Hillcrest, but do you know about the Cardiff Greek Festival held at Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church (3459 Manchester Ave.) in Cardiff-by-the-Sea? No? Maybe you should check it out. From 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 7, the church grounds will be transformed into a mini Greek Village, with a marketplace of shops selling all sorts of Greek stuff, three areas for live-music and dance performances (and instruction) and tons of food—all the souvlaki, spanakopita, gyros and baklava you can shove into your Greek-for-a-day face. Did we mention the loukoumathes booth? That means honey-dipped donuts! Admission is $3, free for kids 11 and younger.
3. Kitsch, please
Old Town isn't without its kitsch; it's the only hood in San Diego where you can have a souvenir sepia-tone picture taken while wearing kooky cowboy duds. But a different kind of kitsch will roll in when Old Town goes old school with the Kustom Kulture car, bike and lowbrow-art show. Now in its fourth year, the event gathers together lowbrow artists like The Pizz and Sonny Boy, vendors selling apparel and car-related merch, live music and, most importantly, a wide array of vintage hot rods and lowriders that are works of art in their own right. The show takes place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6, along San Diego Avenue. It's open to all ages, and admission is free.
Does your event deserve to be in our top three? Email Kinsee Morlan.