L.A. Opera’s opener, Ojai Music Festival and 9 other best bets for your weekend

Guanqun Yu as Leonora in Los Angeles Opera’s production of Verdi’s “Il Trovatore”
Guanqun Yu as Leonora in Los Angeles Opera’s production of Verdi’s “Il Trovatore.”
(Cory Weaver / LA Opera)

Magician David Kwong’s latest brain-teasing show, a family friendly celebration of National Dance Day and Los Angeles Opera’s season opener lead our short list of culture offerings this weekend. Before you go, remember to call or check online for reservation requirements and other COVID-19 protocols.

“Il Trovatore”
L.A. Opera opens its season with an all-hands-on-deck production of Verdi’s dark 19th century tale of love and vengeance. Sung in Italian with English subtitles. Guanqun Yu stars. James Conlon conducts. Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Music Center, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown L.A. 6 p.m. Saturday; other dates through Oct. 10. $19-$292; livestreamed performances (2 p.m. Oct. 3 and 10), $30.

Yo-Yo Ma reprises his Bach marathon, the Ojai festival returns at long last and San Diego gathers at the new Rady Shell. Let the season begin.

Aug. 23, 2021


Ojai Music Festival
Composer John Adams serves as artistic director as the venerable music showcase returns for a weekend packed with live concerts. Guest artists include Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson and Americana singer-songwriter Rhiannon Giddens. Libbey Bowl, 210 S. Signal St., Ojai, and other venues. Various times Thursday through Sunday. $20-$150 per show; festival passes are $75-$950.

National Dance Day
Dancers of all ages, shapes, sizes and experience levels are invited to bust a move in a new edition of this outdoor event, which features live performances and dance workshops. Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Julianne and George Argyros Plaza, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday. $10; advance purchase required.

“It’s Alive, It’s Alive!”
Renegade performance artist John Fleck uses music, dance and character sketches to explore the current crises confronting humanity in this cabaret-style work in progress. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West L.A. 8 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 9. $25.

Dominique Morisseau, the Go-Go’s musical, a Liza Minnelli-Aristophanes mashup and — at long last — “The Band’s Visit”: your guide to the new season.

Aug. 23, 2021

“The Enigmatist”
Magician and crossword-puzzle writer David Kwong, creator of the digital production “Inside the Box,” is back with more mind-bending amusements in this in-person solo show. This weekend’s performances are sold out, but tickets are available for multiple dates through Oct. 30. Geffen Playhouse, Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Westwood. $30-$150.

“Let ’im Move You: This Is a Formation”
Popularized at historically Black colleges and universities and gay nightclubs, the dance style J-Setting — a.k.a. bucking — is explored in works by choreographers jumatatu m. poe and Jermone Donte Beacham. Performed in the round for a standing audience; limited seating available. REDCAT, 631 W. 2nd St., downtown L.A. 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday. $13-$25.


Rodrigo y Gabriela
The Mexican acoustic guitar duo that blends flamenco with heavy metal, jazz and everything in between brings blazing-fast fingers and pulse-pounding rhythms back for a pair of shows. Ford Theatre, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, Hollywood. 8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. $50-$79.

An Iliad”
A Noise Within opens its 30th season with Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare’s acclaimed show, which reimagines Homer’s ancient tale of the Trojan War. Company members Deborah Strang and Geoff Elliott alternate in the role of the Poet. A Noise Within, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena. 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday; other dates through Oct. 3. $25 and up.

“Kim Abeles: Smog Collectors, 1987-2020”
The effects of air pollution are illustrated in this decades-spanning survey of mixed-media works by the L.A.-based artist. Begovich Gallery, Cal State Fullerton, 800 N. State College Blvd. Saturday through Dec. 18. Closed Fridays and Sundays. Free.

A guide to the most promising art shows in the season ahead: Peter Paul Rubens, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Hans Holbein the Younger, Thonet chairs and more.

Aug. 27, 2021

Blue13 Dance Company is throwing a faux wedding and you’re invited. This L.A. troupe that mixes Bollywood and contemporary dance stages a pair of immersive, outdoor shows for ages 12 and older. Heritage Square Museum, 3800 Homer St., L.A. 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday. $10-$75.

“Asphalt Comedy”
Doug Benson, Caroline Rhea and Mary Lynn Rajskub are among the performers stepping up to the mic in the return of this outdoor standup-comedy showcase for ages 21 and older. Pop-up outdoor theater, 7763 Melrose Ave., L.A. 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday; other dates through Oct. 30. $32.50-$155.

Our weekly arts and culture recommendations are posted every Thursday.