How many times in a city Pittsburgh's size do you have the chance to compare different productions of the same opera within a year's time? A rare opportunity comes when Undercroft Opera, a new company that exclusively casts local singers, puts on Puccini's "La Boheme" this month with the Pittsburgh Opera following with a production in March and April.
Of course, artistically speaking, the Pittsburgh Opera isn't following anyone locally, and some would say it's a mistake for the smaller company to present the same opera in such proximity. But Undercroft Opera exists "to provide Pittsburgh-area singers and exceptional vocal students with an artistic outlet and a greater sense of community." They can benefit from singing "Boheme" even if it were playing every week here.
As for the audience, those not interested in comparing productions might just want to get to know the famed opera better. Since Undercroft's production will be in English, it's a good introduction to the opera that will return in an acclaimed Michael Yeargan-designed production at the Benedum Center.
Woody Brown conducts and Sally Denmeade stages the Undercroft production. 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Bethel Park High School; 8 p.m. Aug. 8-9 and 2 p.m. Aug. 10 at Synod Hall, Oakland. $12-$27; visit www.undercroftopera.org.
-- Andrew Druckenbrod
The Associated Artists of Pittsburgh's 98th Annual Exhibition opens with a free public reception from 7-10 tonight at The Andy Warhol Museum. Juror John Carson, the Regina and Marlin Miller Head of the School of Art at Carnegie Mellon University, selected 77 works by 74 artists in a range of media. The exhibition has been held annually since 1910, usually at Carnegie Museum of Art. The show moved to The Warhol this year because the 2008 Carnegie International occupies the Carnegie galleries. For information, visit www.aapgh.org.
If you're planning a picnic at South Park tonight, you might want to stir up some gumbo. Appearing there is Marc Broussard, a bayou soul troubadour whom the Washington Post called "one of the best blue-eyed soul singers around these days."
Broussard came to fame in 2004 with "Carencro," a major-label debut that showcased his contemporary blues, soul and Cajun music. He followed that with "S.O.S.: Save Our Soul," an album of covers such as "Love and Happiness" and "Respect Yourself.
In September, he'll drop "Keep Coming Back," a new album featuring guest spots by LeAnn Rimes and Sara Bareilles.
It begins at 7:30 p.m. and it's free.
-- Scott Mervis
The typically quiet elegance that pervades the Frick Art and Historical Center grounds will get pleasantly upset by the potent strains of the Pittsburgh Symphony Brass this weekend.
The museum's First Fridays concert series will feature the group in a free outdoor performance led by PSO principal trumpeter George Vosburgh. The group also features PSO musicians Neal Berntsen (trumpet), Steve Kostyniak (horn) and Murray Crewe (bass trombone), as well as trombonist Brad Courage and tubist Tom Lukowicz. They will be joined by vocalist Tami Fire for some selections.
The program includes music from "West Side Story," "American Brass Band Journal" and by Edvard Grieg and more. 7 p.m. in Point Breeze.
-- Andrew Druckenbrod
For those intrigued with "Life on Mars" (the Carnegie International exhibit, not the planet), Attack Theatre will unveil part two of its collaboration at the company's studios on Penn Avenue during the monthly First Friday, beginning at 8 p.m. Catch Attack's performance at 9:30 p.m. Donations at the door.
-- Jane Vranish
Artist Fumino Hora explores the other "self inside of you; a self who is completely unpredictable and uncontrollable" in her solo exhibition, "Doppel Ganger," which opens with a free reception from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Pittsburgh Filmmakers Galleries, 477 Melwood Ave., North Oakland. For information, visit pghfilmmakers.org or call 412-681-5449.
Glass mosaics of Penn Avenue, Lawrenceville and East Liberty will be unveiled from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Pittsburgh Glass Center, 5472 Penn Ave., Friendship. They were created this summer by artist Daviea Davis, with help from community members, from glass recycled from Youghiogheny Glass Co. in Connellsville. After Friday, the mosaics will travel to their respective neighborhoods for permanent display. The evening, which is a part of the monthly Unblurred: First Fridays on Penn, will also feature live flameworking and glass-blowing exhibitions (www.pittsburghglasscenter.org or 412-365-2145).
Now that Hollywood has unloaded "The Dark Knight," what does it have left? How 'bout a mummy? A new installment with Brendan Fraser tops the openings this weekend: "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor."
Nine years after his debut as explorer Rick O'Connell, Fraser returns to this franchise, although Rachel Weisz does not. Maria Bello steps into the role as his wife for this installment, set in Asia and starring Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh.
In "Swing Vote," Kevin Costner plays an apathetic, beer-drinking, lovable loser who, thanks to his overachieving 12-year-old daughter, becomes the ultimate swing vote on Election Day.
In "The Rocker," Rainn Wilson ("The Office") plays a drummer for an '80s hair band who is kicked out of the group. Twenty years later, he gets the chance to redeem himself by joining his nephew's band, A.D.D.
"The Midnight Meat Train" is a horror thriller based on a Clive Barker short story with Vinnie Jones as a subway murderer who stalks late-night commuters.
Seminal Japanese artist Mitsuru Sasaki will join with partner and Pittsburgh native Jennifer (Blose) Sasaki for a weekend of butoh at 947 Liberty Ave. Described as "no one thing, no single style, but it always has at its center a fragile transformative spark," butoh will be explored at a workshop Saturday from 3-6 p.m., followed by a guided improvisation at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday. Both events are free.
Mayhem on display
This is right around the time when Ozzfest would be pulling into Pittsburgh. This year, it's a one-day stadium show in Dallas. But the vacuum has quickly been filled by the Rockstar Energy Mayhem Tour, hitting the Post-Gazette Pavilion with a pair of pummeling headliners in Disturbed and Slipknot, both of whom have raised enough hell at Ozzfest in the past to put security on alert.
Slipknot, which has a new album due out later in the month, also has a new set of creepy masks to unveil, and Disturbed singer David Dramain will turn up as everyone's favorite cannibal.
Rounding out the main stage will be prog-metal rockers Mastodon and the fast and flashy Dragonforce, and the side stages will feature the likes of Underoath, Machine Head and Five Finger Death Punch.
For more on the Mayhem, see page W-15.
-- Scott Mervis
Message from New Orleans
Mimi Yahn, a local activist, writer and, now, slideshow master, went to her former hometown of New Orleans and came back with this message: "New Orleans has come to symbolize all that's gone wrong with our nation: Tax dollars spent on war instead of disaster relief at home ...a health care system collapsing ... an entire city in the process of being privatized...." Throw in some racism, corporate greed, cronyism, environmental concerns and you've got a downright dispiriting postcard home. Or a whole slide show of the crappy side of our fellow mankind.
Despite having every reason to despair, Yahn screens her slide show with a side of hope and solidarity. Check it out at the Pump House, Homestead, Saturday at 1:30 p.m. It's free.
-- Kate McCaffrey
The Outsider returns
Walter Trout, who played the Pittsburgh Blues Festival last year, returns for a show at Moondog's with a new album called "The Outsider." The New Jersey native -- who played for John Lee Hooker, Big Mama Thorton, Canned Heat and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers -- released his first domestic album in 1998 and has since become a staple on the blues circuit with his searing blues-rock guitar style.
Jim White, the PG's blues blogger (Blue Notes), wrote: "Trout may not be your traditional bluesman, but he's a tough and talented singer-songwriter who takes advantage of all his musical skills, not just his ability to play the guitar like a machine gun."
The show begins at 7:30 p.m.
AAP juror talk
At 1 p.m. Sunday John Carson, the juror of the 98th Associated Artists of Pittsburgh Annual Exhibition, will give a gallery talk in the exhibition at The Andy Warhol Museum. Free with museum admission. For information, www.aapgh.org.
In conjunction with "Life on Mars," the 2008 Carnegie International, Pittsburgh Filmmakers is teaming up with Carnegie Museum of Art for a series of films that explore "themes of humanization and mechanization."
It begins Sunday at 8 p.m. with a chance to see the Stanley Kubrick classic "2001: A Space Odyssey," on the big screen at the Regent Square Theater. It continues with "Brazil" (Aug. 10), "Blow-Up" (Aug. 17), "Playtime" (Aug. 24) and "Alphaville" (Aug. 31).
Admission is $8 for adults, and $6 for seniors, students and children. Members of Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh receive a $2 admission discount to the film series, and members of Pittsburgh Filmmakers receive a $2 admission discount to Carnegie Museum of Art.
The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium invites you see the biggest and cutest babies in town for Children's Hospital Baby Day at the zoo. Visitors can learn fun facts about the zoo's babies -- including the tiger cub and Angelina the elephant -- and meet with representatives from Children's Hospital for summer safety tips. It runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
• Fifteen-year-old Maddie, a Pittsburgh pop singer-singwriter-guitarist who performed with the North Star Kids, performs at "Bourbon, Barbecue and Blues," a happy hour to benefit The Autism Center of Pittsburgh tonight from 5 to 7 p.m. at Cafe Euro, 600 Grant St., U.S. Steel Tower. The $10 donation includes bourbon tastings, food and entertainment. Call 412-434-0800.