We are lucky to have several small and adventurous opera companies in the Bay Area and one of the most exciting is Ars Minerva, now in its third season of reviving operas of the Venetian baroque. This year's offering, which will be heard for the first time since the birthday celebrations of the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I in 1665, is Pietro Andrea Ziani's La Circe, a tale of the ancient Greek enchantress Circe. If this is anything like their two previous productions (La Cleopatra and The Amazons in the Fortunate Isles) it is sure to be a delight. You can check it out 8 - 9 September at the ODC Theater in San Francisco.
San Francisco Opera opens its fall season with Puccini's Turandot in the familiar Hockney production; Martina Serafin sings the title role in the six September performances and Nina Stemme takes over for the six performances in November and December. The 8 September performance is Opening Night, so you may embrace or avoid that depending on your taste. Verdi's La Traviata returns for ten performances in September and October.
The big event at SF Opera this month, though, is undoubtedly Strauss's Elektra with Christine Goerke in the title role; there are only six performances, from 9 to 27 September, so catch it while you can.
The Curran Theater presents Taylor Mac in A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, in four six-hour parts; Part 1 (15 September) covers 1776 - 1836, Part 2 (17 September) covers 1836 - 1896, Part 3 (22 September) covers 1896 - 1956, and Part 4 (24 September) covers 1956 to the present.
Custom Made Theatre presents How I Learned to Drive by Paula Vogel from 7 September to 7 October.
You can see another play by Paula Vogel, The Mineola Twins, directed by Ariel Craft, when Cutting Ball Theater opens its season; the run starts 28 September and goes to 29 October.
ACT presents Hamlet, starring John Douglas Thompson and directed by Carey Perloff, from 20 September to 15 October at the Geary Theater.
Shotgun Players presents Sarah Kane's Blasted, directed by Jon Tracy, from 21 September to 22 October.
At the San Francisco Symphony, you can hear Michael Tilson Thomas conduct the Berlioz Symphonie fantastique, along with Jeremy Denk as the soloist in Bartók's Piano Concerto #2, and that's on 28 and 30 September and 1 October. The Symphony is also launching a season-long celebration of the centennial of Leonard Bernstein, and OK, I know he is a Major Figure and much beloved by many people who don't happen to be me, but with the exception of Candide I don't really respond to his music or his personality, so when I look at the all-Bernstein concert on 22 - 24 September, my interest in hearing the always wonderful mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard is, I'm afraid, outweighed by my complete lack of interest in yet another go-through of the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story; your mileage may vary and my indifference to Bernstein says more about me than about the artist, which is usually the case with these things.
New Century Chamber Orchestra kicks off its first season under new Artistic Partner Daniel Hope, the British violinist who replaced Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg in a similar role, with the world premiere of a Violin Concerto by Alan Fletcher, Orawa by Wojciech Kilar, the Tchaikovsky Serenade and the Mendelssohn Octet. You can hear the band in an open rehearsal on 20 September at the Kanbar Performing Arts Center and then 21 September at First Congregational Church in Berkeley, 22 (matinee on a Friday) and 23 September at Herbst Theater in San Francisco, and 24 September at the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center in San Rafael.
Chanticleer sings songs of war and peace from the English Reformation up to our own time, including works by Mason Bates, John Musto, and Jennifer Higdon (excerpts from her opera Cold Mountain). The program is 16 September in Santa Clara, 17 September in Sacramento, 22 and 24 September in San Francisco, and 23 September in Pleasanton.
SFMoMA opens a Walker Evans exhibit on 30 September; it closes on 4 February 2018, and speaking of closing, you only have until 9 October to see the Edvard Munch exhibit, which is worth seeing more than once.