La Gioconda: Trivia: Did you know that La Gioconda ("The Happy One") is the real title of the Da Vinci painting we know as the "Mona Lisa"? Whether that has anything to do with Amilcare Ponchielli's opera is another question--no one sounds too happy in the midst of this twisted tale of love and duplicity. The nasty, scheming Barnaba manipulates the amours of three other people in order to clear a path between himself and the titular heroine. More trivia: The "Dance of the Hours" interlude from this opera is the music of the hippo/crocodile pas de deux in Disney's Fantasia. Arizona Opera, in conjunction with Ballet Arizona and the Phoenix Symphony, presents the classic yowl fest at Symphony Hall, 225 East Adams. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, January 22; 7:30 p.m. Friday, January 23; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, January 24; and 2 p.m. Sunday, January 25. Featured are Janine Bogardus as Gioconda, Adib Fazah as Barnaba and Gary Bachlund as Enzo. Tickets are $14 to $56. 266-7464.
Sister Hazel, and Alana Davis: Hootie's Blowfish meets Up With People; Hazel hails from the same town as those tuneful ska punks in Less Than Jake--Gainesville, Florida--but couldn't be more different. Named after Sister Hazel Williams, a Gainesville-based missionary, the all-guy group traffics in what used to be called good vibes. Davis, a promising singer-songwriter who's currently getting airplay with a cover of Ani DiFranco's "32 Flavors," opens for Sis at 8 p.m. Thursday, January 22, at the Celebrity Theatre, 440 North 32nd Street. Tickets are $13.50, available at the Celebrity box office or Ticketmaster. 267-1600 (Celeb), 784-4444 (Ticketmaster).
Phoenix Open: Steve Jones defends his title in the 63rd annual Open, a 72-hole PGA Tour stop. After three days of pro-ams and other related events last week, the superpopular tourney tees off for real at approximately 7:45 a.m. Thursday, January 22, and continues daily through Sunday, January 25, at Tournament Players Club of Scottsdale, 17020 North Hayden (the main entrance is at the intersection of Pima Road and Princess Drive, approximately one mile north of Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard). Tickets, available at Dillard's and a variety of other sources, are $20 a day. From 6 to 8:30 a.m. Saturday, January 24, and the same hours Sunday, January 25, tournament sponsors Smith's and Smitty's host a balloon launching in TPC north parking lot; this event is free and includes a continental breakfast. For schedule details, call 870-4431.
Rent: A modern spin on La Boheme, this is the first musical since A Chorus Line to win both a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award. Written by the late Jonathan Larson (he died at the age of 36, just hours after the show's New York dress rehearsal) and directed by Michael Grief, the show explores the struggles of an artists' community. This week's performances are 8 p.m. Thursday, January 22; 8 p.m. Friday, January 23; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, January 24; 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday, January 25; 8 p.m. Tuesday, January 27; and 8 p.m. Wednesday, January 28, at Gammage Auditorium, Mill and Apache in Tempe. The matinee on Saturday, January 24, is interpreted in American Sign Language (all seats in the ASL area are $45). Tickets, at Gammage or Dillard's, are likely to be tough to get, but if they're available, they'll be $20 to $47. The run continues through Sunday, February 1. 965-3434, 503-5555.
White Picket Fence: Phoenix playwright Michael Grady's comedy-drama concerns a young black boy and a young white boy who become friends in the late '60s through their shared interest in the Apollo space program and the struggle of their families to deal with their own bigotries--both the adults and the kids are eagerly anticipating "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Black Theatre Troupe and Actors Theatre of Phoenix are co-producers of the work's world premiere. Opening performances are 8 p.m. Friday, January 23; 8 p.m. Saturday, January 24; and 2 p.m. Sunday, January 25. Tickets range from $19 to $30. The run continues through Sunday, February 8. 252-8497 (ATOP), 258-8128 (BTT).
"Face to Face": Arizona native Zarco Guerrero, the face behind the masks in this presentation, is billed as a "mask madman"--he designs, sculpts and paints false faces in a Mexican folk style, some of which are in the art collections of Paul Rodriguez, Edward James Olmos and Robert Altman. He's also a musician, and he combines all of his art forms into this one-man show, whose publicity claims, "brings ancient archetypes to life" and "mirrors the mystery of mind and heart in a myriad of fantastic faces." All this happens at 1 p.m. Friday, January 23, at the Whiteman Lecture Hall, 1625 North Central. Admission is free; seating is limited to 300. 585-5250.
Native American Song and Dance: The lovely flute sounds of musician/raconteur Robert Tree Cody Red Cedar Whistle (grandson of actor Iron Eyes Cody of the "Keep America Beautiful" TV PSA) are featured in this evening of traditional native music and movement beginning at 8 p.m. Friday, January 23, at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Also on the bill are hoop dancer Derrick Davis, the Phoenix Intertribal Dancers and the Yaqui Deer Dancers, as well as such contemporary acts as rock band Clan/destine and comedian La Capa. Tickets are $15. 994-2787 (SCA), 784-4444 (Ticketmaster).
Jeffrey's Ghosts: J.B. Smith, a resident artist at ASU's Institute for Studies in the Arts, performs two works for percussion: The Apparitions of J.B.--a piece for "electronic percussion and digital ghosts"--by Daniel Lentz and Mandala in Funk by Wendy Mae Chambers. Smith hits the cyber-skins at 7:30 p.m. Friday, January 23, and the same time Saturday, January 24, at Drama City, located at the intersection of Myrtle and University on the Arizona State University campus in Tempe. Admission is free, but reservations are required. 965-9438.
Peter Nero: The Grammy-winning pop pianist takes the stage at 7 p.m. Friday, January 23, at the Scottsdale Conference Resort, 7700 East McCormick Parkway. The cocktail-attire evening, which includes a reception and dinner along with the show, is a tad pricey: Individual tickets are $175 and $500; it's a benefit for ASU's School of Music, to defray the costs of its recent acquisition of 31 Steinway grands and 39 studio-style uprights. 965-8562 (ASU), 991-9000 (SCR).
In the Deep Heart's Core: Joseph Daniel Sobol of the Celtic performance-art ensemble Kilartan Road composed this music-dance-theater piece, which employs the verse and prose of William Butler Yeats as its libretto. Constance McCord directs the show. Sobol sings, and is featured on guitar and cittern. It begins at 8 p.m. Saturday, January 24, at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Tickets are $18. 994-2787 (SCA), 784-4444 (Ticketmaster).
Chinese Week: Chinese New Year (the Year of the Tiger this time around) is celebrated in a weeklong festival, kicked off with a performance of traditional music and dance by the Phoenix Chinese Art Ensemble at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, January 24, at the Orpheum Theatre, 203 West Adams. Admission is $5. The official free opening ceremony happens at noon Monday, January 26, at the Phoenix City Hall Atrium, 2000 West Washington, and the fest continues through Sunday, February 1, with such events as a Culture and Cuisine Fair, a performance by the Chengdu Musical and Acrobatic Troupe, art exhibits, a screening of Jackie Chan's First Strike, a 5K "Wok," Run and Skate--in short, it's an excuse to party, listen to music, eat Chinese food and watch Jackie Chan. Anybody got a problem with that? 534-2664.
America: Since the '70s-era duo is coming to play in the desert, presumably they'll be able to remember their names. For out here, of course, there ain't no one for to give them no pain. Touring behind their 18th album, Hourglass, they visit the Valley at 8 p.m. Saturday, January 24, at the Sundome, 19403 R.H. Johnson Boulevard in Sun City West. Tickets are $12, $18 and $24. 975-1900 (the 'dome), 503-5555 (Dillard's).
Karen Dale Wolman: Newly Valley-based lesbian author and ASU writing instructor presents a reading from her most recent work, Rites of First Blood, and a selection of her voluminous short stories. Wolman starts at 2 p.m. Sunday, January 25, at Obelisk: The Bookstore, 24 West Camelback. Admission is free, and Wolman will autograph copies of her book after she's read from it. 266-2665.
"Cornered": ASU Main School of Art Professor Dennis Gillingwater's multimedia installation piece, which, in the artist's words, "deals with the configuration of landscape and the effects it has on humankind," is on display starting Monday, January 26, at Arizona State University West Art Gallery, located on the second floor of the University Center Building on the ASU West campus, 4701 West Thunderbird in Glendale. 543-2787.
Walt Disney's World on Ice: Toy Disney's latest ice extravaganza puts the characters from its surprisingly agreeable 1995 computer-animated movie up on blades: Woody the cowboy, space cadet Buzz Light-year and the rest of the surreptitiously animate playthings from Andy's room skate their hearts out at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, January 27, and the same time Wednesday, January 28, at America West Arena, 201 East Jefferson. The sight of the three-eyed aliens, the green toy soldiers or the mutant toys filling the ice could well produce a unique theatrical lyricism. 379-7800 (AWA), 503-5555 (Dillard's).
Happy Birthday, Dear Wolfgang: Mozart's birthday is celebrated with a free morning recital of the composer's works, performed by musicians and singers from ASU's School of Music. It's part of the "Starbucks Coffee Concert" series--admission is free, as are Starbucks refreshments, served starting at 10 a.m. Tuesday, January 27, at Kerr Cultural Center, 6110 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale. The concert follows at 10:30. Reservations are requested. 965-5377.
Slash: The former Guns N' Roses guitarist and his new band bring "Slash's Blues Ball," a two-hour set of blues-rock covers like Jimi Hendrix's "Stone Free," the James Gang's "Funk #49" and Cream's "Crossroads," back to the Cajun House, the very venue at which they were shut down by the cops after just a few numbers when they played there last April. The show is scheduled for Wednesday, January 28, at 7117 East Third Avenue in Scottsdale. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster. 945-5150, 784-4444.