San Francisco Performances performances.org), has brought acclaimed artists to the Bay Area since 1979. Shows run the gamut from chamber music to dance to jazz and are held in several venues, including the Herbst Theater and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The season runs from late September to June. Tickets cost from $15 to $96 and are available through City Box Office or through the San Francisco Performances website.
In addition to San Francisco's major opera company, you might check out the amusing Pocket Opera, 469 Bryant St. (tel. 415/972-8930; www.pocketopera.org). From early March to mid-July, the comic company stages farcical performances of well-known operas in English. The staging is intimate and informal, without lavish costumes and sets. The cast ranges from 3 to 16 players, supported by a chamber orchestra. The rich repertoire includes such works as Don Giovanni, The Barber of Seville, and over 80 other operas. Call the box office for complete information, location (which varies), and showtimes.
Free Opera -- Every year, the San Francisco Opera stages a number of free performances. It kicks off the season every September with Opera in the Park, held in Golden Gate Park, followed by occasional free performances throughout the city as part of the Brown Bag Opera program. Schedule details can be found on the company’s website at www.sfopera.com.
Top traveling troupes like the Joffrey Ballet and American Ballet Theatre make regular appearances in San Francisco. Primary modern dance spaces include Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission St. (www.ybca.org; tel. 415/978-2787); the Cowell Theater, at Fort Mason Center, Marina Boulevard at Buchanan Street (www.fortmason.org; tel. 415/345-7575); and the ODC Theatre, 3153 17th St., at Shotwell Street in the Mission District (www.odcdance.org; tel. 415/863-9834). Check local papers for schedules or contact the theaters’ box offices for more information.
The San Francisco International Film Festival (tel. 415/561-5000; www.sffs.org) is held at the end of April and reigns as one of America's longest-running film festivals. Entries include new films by new and established directors. Call or surf ahead for a schedule or information, and check out their website for more information on purchasing tickets, which are relatively inexpensive.
If you're not here in time for the festival, don't despair. The classic, independent, and mainstream cinemas in San Francisco are every bit as good as the city's other cultural offerings.