Planet Picks

Librettos Galore

If you enjoy opera, or if you've never experienced this type of musical art, you're in luck — opera season has finally arrived and three productions open this weekend for your viewing pleasure. Opera Tampa celebrates 10 years of service to the Bay area with the debut of Puccini's Madame Butterfly. In this poignant tale, a geisha forsakes her family, honor and religion to marry an American naval officer whose intentions are far from innocent. Shortly after he's recalled to the states, and when he returns to Japan and his patiently waiting wife, operatic tragedy ensues. Maestro Anton Coppola conducts the opera, which is accompanied by the Opera Tampa Orchestra and sung in Italian with English lyrics projected above the stage. Tickets cost $24.50-$75; performances are at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 21, at Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center's Carol Morsani Hall, 1010 N. MacInnes Place, Tampa, 813-229-7827.

Verdi's La Traviata is presented by Moscow's renowned Stanislavsky Opera Company during a single performance at Ruth Eckerd Hall. Set in the salons of Paris during the mid-19th century, the story recounts the tortured and ultimately tragic love affair between courtesan Violetta and her admirer, Alfredo. The opera, which is considered to be one of Verdi's finest, is accompanied by a live orchestra and sung in Italian with projected English subtitles. Tickets cost $35-$45; show time is 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19, at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater, 727-791-7400.

Music Live! (formerly the Central Florida Lyric Opera) performs Leoncallo's tragic opera Pagliacci. Subtly different from the standard opera fare, Pagliacci follows a traveling theatrical company and uses the play-within-a-play device to explore classic themes of passion, adultery, jealousy and revenge. Tickets cost $18 for general admission, $15 for seniors, and $10 for youths. Pagliacci begins at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20, at Palladium Theater, 253 Fifth Ave. N., St. Petersburg, 727-822-3590.


From Soup to Bucs Take a break from your busy schedule and head out to the 10th Annual Empty Bowls Thanksgiving Luncheon, hosted by America's Second Harvest of Tampa Bay. For a $10 donation, each attendee receives a lunch that includes a bowl of soup, bread, an apple and water. Additionally, each attendee can choose from a selection of hundreds of bowls designed and created by Hillsborough County grade-schoolers. Local ceramics businesses have donated pottery bowls for the silent auction and guests can bid on these "Souper Bowls," some of which have been autographed by Tampa Bay Buccaneers players, while others have been painted by local artists (including Jules Burt, Theo Wujcik and Duncan McClellan). Proceeds benefit Second Harvest's Kids Café programs, which provide free, wholesome, after-school meals to hungry children. The luncheon occurs from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Lykes Gaslight Park, located on Franklin Street in downtown Tampa. To purchase tickets, call 813-254-1190.

FRIDAY 11.19

Bedford Falls on Stage The Carrollwood Players replace their usual Christmas Story production with a special stage version of Frank Capra's 1946 masterpiece, It's a Wonderful Life. Adapted and directed by Ray Crew, the play features a cast of 37 actors who are refreshingly enthusiastic and more than a little talented. Furthermore, original star Karolyn Grimes (she appeared as Zuzu in the film) has voiced her approval of the adaptation, saying that the finished scripts looks good and still maintains the magic of the original. So check it out — you probably won't be disappointed. Proceeds from tonight's 8 p.m. show benefit Tampa's Shriners Hospital. To make reservations, call 813-265-4000. Tickets: $12 general/$10 students and seniors. 8 p.m. Fri. and Sat., and 3 p.m. Sun., Nov. 19-21; 8 p.m. Fri., 2 and 8 p.m. Sat., and 3 p.m. Sun., Nov. 26-Dec. 11, at Carrollwood Playhouse, 4333 Gunn Highway, Tampa.


Hugging the Shore Over 1,200 volunteers (ages 14 and up) are being recruited to clean up and restore 30 shoreline sites along Tampa's waterways during the 17th Annual Mayor's Hillsborough River & Waterways Cleanup. The event kicks off with Mayor Pam Iorio at 8 a.m. at the Lowry Park Boat Ramp (1101 W. Sligh Ave., Tampa), and volunteers receive garbage bags, gloves, a T-shirt, complimentary breakfast and lunch, and free participation in the Rollin' on the River Festival, an event celebrating "community volunteerism and environmental stewardship." The festie occurs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Lowry Park and features live music by Bobby & The Rockets; a barbeque lunch prepared by culinary students from Sickles High School; environmental education exhibits; and a Rally for the River Challenge, where 20 teams compete for the title of "2004 River Rats." Participation is free for Cleanup volunteers; the public is welcome to join in the festivities and can purchase lunch for $10. The 17th Annual Mayor's Hillsborough River & Waterways Cleanup is organized by the City of Tampa and the mayor's Beautification Program, a non-governmental, nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for Bay area residents by improving and beautifying public areas, parks and streetscapes. To register, call 813-221-8733 or e-mail [email protected].

SUNDAY 11.21

Aged Fashion American Stage's fall fundraiser, A Stitch in Time, is a runway show that features vintage clothing from 100 years of fashion (1880 to 1980). There's a huge range of styles from the '50s and '60s, as well as vintage furs and old-school attire by Lord & Taylor, David Baldwin, Vogue American, Victor Costa and many others. Moreover, almost everything you'll see is on sale, so if you decide you like one of the outfits, you can buy it without emptying your checking account. Also, make sure not to miss out on an exclusive drawing with prizes donated from area businesses, including Tranquility Day Spa, Pacific Wave Restaurant and Hippie Chicks. Tickets are $10 per person; students with valid identification enter for $8. 7:30 p.m. at American Stage, 211 Third St. N., St. Petersburg, 727-823-1600.

To Be Charitable Every year, University Mall hosts the Magical Night of Giving, a three-hour holiday extravaganza that offers exclusive savings throughout the mall, family-oriented activities, holiday entertainment and cool prize giveaways.Santa's Grand Arrival Parade starts at 7:30 p.m., a procession that comprises USF's Color Guard and Cheerleaders, the Middleton High School Marching Band, McGruff the Crime Dog, Dora the Explorer, stilt-walking toy soldiers, balloon-twisting elves and a slew of others; Angel Sing performances — featuring the Thomas E. Weightman Middle School Chorus (7-7:30 p.m.), Community Youth Outreach Choir (8-8:30 p.m.) and Middleton High School Chorus (9-9:30 p.m.) — occur in front of Sears inside the mall; and 23 Skidoo, an old-fashioned swing band, plays holiday favorites throughout the evening in front of Dillard's (lower level). Tickets are $5 per person (children 12 and younger are admitted free with an adult), and proceeds benefit over 60 local nonprofits, including the Haitian Education Project, Big Cat Rescue, Harvest Time Ministry and Riverquest of Florida. 7 to 10 p.m. at University Mall, 2200 E. Fowler Ave, Tampa, 813-971-3465.

THANKS FOR THE JAM Gaspar's Grotto can always be relied upon for quality music events and this afternoon, the venue presents Thank Fest, a pre-Thanksgiving music festival featuring a handful of local jam-band favorites. Three Tampa-based bands appear in the lineup: the FREED, an ensemble that combines original jams with classic rock by artists that include the Grateful Dead, The Beatles, David Bowie and many others; the bluesy Cope, a group that recently opened for Perpetual Groove at Masquerade; and Chroma, a relatively new band that entertains the audience with pleasant vocal harmonies and a quirky stage presence. There's also Kynda from Orlando, a groovin' funk-rock outfit that mixes their own numbers with the occasional Phish and Widespread Panic covers; and New England's Mountain of Venus, a quintet presenting male and female vocals over music that ranges from more mellow, folk-inspired numbers to rhythmic, extended improvisations. Admission is only $5 and the music starts at 2 p.m. Gaspar's Grotto, 1805 E. Seventh Ave., Ybor City, 813-248-5900.


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