Substantive classical menu for '08

Lists of “bests” for the past year are not so hard to compile. For more of a challenge, try coming up with the most promising San Francisco performing arts attractions in early 2008. This compendium represents a start:

American Conservatory Theater

San Francisco’s major company will offer David Mamet’s “Speed the Plow” (Jan. 4 through Feb. 3) and Athol Fugard’s “Blood Knot” (Feb. 8 through March 9) in its Geary Street theater, but your attention is also called to A.C.T. as it plays at the ZEUM Theater at Yerba Buena, including the world premiere of “Brainpeople” (Jan. 30 through Feb. 16) by José Rivera, screenwriter of “The Motorcycle Diaries.”

(415) 749.2228 or www.act-sf.org

Kitka

The Bay Area women’s vocal ensemble performs “The Rusalka Cycle: Songs Between the Worlds” Friday through Sunday at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco. Featuring original music by Ukrainian composer Mariana Sadovska, the production weaves old Slavic mythology with contemporary themes and songs drawn from Slavic folklore.

(415) 292-1233 or www.jccsf.org/arts

The Lamplighters

The City’s venerable temple to Gilbert & Sullivan starts the 2008 portion of its 55th season not with a G&S musical, but with “The Secret Garden” by Lucy Simon and Marsha Norman, based on Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel. It will run at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts from Jan. 18-20 before going to Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center for the Arts from Jan. 31 through Feb. 3.

(415) 978-2787 or www.lamplighters.org

Magic Theatre

Thecompany opens its 2008 season with two world premieres: Betty Shamieh’s “Territories,” a thriller set during the time of the Crusades (Jan. 12 through Feb. 10), and “Tir Na Nog (Land of Youth),” an adaptation of Edna O’Brien’s novel “The Country Girls,” from Feb. 23 through March 23.

(415) 441-8822 or www.magictheatre.org

Royal Concertgebouw

Guests coming to Davies Symphony Hall include Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, one of the world’s finest, in two appearances directed by Mariss Jansons. On Jan. 27, the group performs Debussy’s “La Mer” and Berlioz’s “Symphonie fantastique.” On Jan. 28, the program features Richard Strauss’ “Don Juan” and Mahler’s Symphony No. 5.

(415) 864-6000 or www.sfsymphony.org

San Francisco Ballet

The company, celebrating its 75th year, will have many special events, including a festival of new works by 10 outstanding choreographers, April 22 through May 6. The season begins on Jan. 23 with a Diamond Gala Celebration. For gala ticket information, call (415) 553-4658.

(415) 865-2000 or www.sfballet.org

San Francisco Conservatory of Music

The school is always a ready source of free or inexpensive performances by students and faculty. Pianist Seung-Mi Paik’s alumni recital is scheduled in the school’s Osher Salon on Saturday; a Young Artists Concert of 12 piano duos featuring students from grades 6-12 is in the Recital Hall on Jan. 13; and a senior recital by soprano Kara Masek in the Recital Hall on Jan. 19.

(415) 503-6275 or www.sfcm.edu

San Francisco Opera

The second half the 2007-08 season doesn’t begin until May, but the Opera Center’s Schwabacher Debut Recital Seriesstarts up on Feb. 3, in Temple Emanu-El (2 Lake St., San Francisco) featuring tenor Philippe Castagner.

(415) 864-3330 or www.sfopera.com

San Francisco Performances

The presenting organization offers top-notch chamber music and dance companies. Of particular interest: Tenor Ian Bostridge sings Schubert lieder on Jan. 22 at the Herbst. Also, the San Francisco debut of Spain’s Compañía Nacional de Danza is Feb. 20-23 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

(415) 392-2545, www.performances.org

San Francisco Symphony

Among concerts conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, here are two recommendations: Jan. 9-13, works by Beethoven and Oliver, soprano Deborah Voigt singing Richard Strauss’ “Four Last Songs” and Barber’s “Andromache’s Farewell”; and Jan. 17-19, the music of Bach, Schubert and Iannis Xenakis.

(415) 864-6000 or www.sfsymphony.org

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