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Nutcracker, American Hustle, A Masquerade Ball – Wrapping Up 2013

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THE NUTCRACKERSan Francisco Ballet’s spectacular production of Tchaikovsky’s beloved work continues at the War Memorial Opera House through Sunday, December 31. Choreographed by Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson and with set designs by Michael Yeargan, the setting is San Francisco in 1915 during the ultra-magical presence of the Pan Pacific Exhibition. The City was all aglow with the most spectacular structures ever created for a major fair, the one surviving being the recently and magnificently restored Palace of Fine Arts. Here in this unbelievable splendor it is easy to submit to the coming-of-age dreams of the young pre-debutante Clara who is beguiled by the Nutcracker Prince. A series of vintage photos assembled by Wendall Harrington projects through a stage-wide Christmas card as the Overture begins. We are then drawn into the living room of one San Francisco’s awesome Victorians – the “Painted Ladies” – where a family and friends and all their children are dazzled by Uncle Drosselmeyer’s unusual assortment of gifts and life-size dancing toys. Conducted by Martin West and featuring the densest snow flurry ever staged along with ravishing interpretations of the ballet’s familiar movements, SF Ballet’s Nutcracker is an irresistible must see. Click here to order tickets on-line.

AMERICAN HUSTLE is the best film of 2013. The film features one of the most amazing combination of talents ever assembled. Starring Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence – it is one of the few times where every performer is on the same page in the same movie and gnarled into a web of complexities where all is plausible and far from peaceful. Directed by David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook, The Fighter, I Heart Huckabees) and sharing the screenplay credits with Eric Warren (The International), American Hustle is a convoluted and scandalous tale involving the FBI, the mafia, Jersey powerbrokers, and one-jump-ahead con artists. Be sure not to blink! The plot, the action, the deception and counter deception is really dense but totally mesmerizing. Click here for Bay Area locations and schedules.

NEW YEAR’S EVE MASQUERADE BALLSan Francisco Symphony always presents the most glamorous way to welcome in the new year. This year’s celebration features Michael Francis leading the Symphony Orchestra in familiar overtures and waltzes from Franz Lehar, Johann Strauss, Jr., and George Gershwin. This year’s guest singers are the husband and wife team of baritone Kelly Markgraf and Sasha Cooke. This season at San Francisco Opera, Sasha Cooke played the title role in the world premiere of Mark Adamo’s The Gospel of Mary Magdalene. She and Kelly will be featured in a series of solos and duets from the glittering world of Operetta and Broadway. In addition, the before and after festivities include the popular group Hit Waves playing on the First Tier of Davies Hall and the Peter Mintun Orchestra for the Ball afterwards on the stage. Noisemakers, masks, champagne cocktails and catered goodies will make this an evening to remember. Click here to order tickets on-line.

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