Arizona Opera concludes its 27th season with Tosca, Puccini's convoluted work of 1900, based on Sardou's play La Tosca, about intrigue and backstabbing and political fugitives in 17th-century Rome. The title character is a singer who, while trying to help her artist boyfriend Cavarodossi, is tricked repeatedly by the scheming police chief Scarpia. The show is sung in Italian with English subtitles. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 26; 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 27; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 28; and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 29, at Symphony Hall, 225 East Adams. Tickets range from $14 to $56, available at the opera's box office and Dillard's; call 266-7464 or 503-5555.
Smells like teen talent: Arts by Valley high school students from the visual to performance are displayed at Mesa Youthfest '98. It kicks off at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 26, with an art and talent show at Mesa Community Center, 201 North Center. The Youthfest Battle of the Bands competition follows at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 28, at nearby Mesa Amphitheatre, Center and University. Who knows what prodigies you might discover? Admission is a measly buck for Thursday, $2 for Saturday. 644-2351 (Mesa Parks and Recreation), 644-2560 (Mesa Community Center).
For the post-Youthfest generation, the Orange Tree Golf and Conference Resort continues its Jazz Evenings series with a night in tribute to the great Benny Goodman, featuring clarinetist Peanuts Hucko, alumnus of Goodman's and Glenn Miller's bands. Scheduled to sit in are trombonist Bob Havens, trumpeter Randy Sandke, drummer Joe Ascione, bassist Colin Geig, and pianist Johnny Varro. The tunes start flowing at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 26; and at the same time on Friday, March 27, at 56th Street and Shea. Tickets are $35. 948-6100.
Downtown Tempe hops even more than usual with the Mill Avenue Merchants Association's 21st annual Tempe Spring Festival of the Arts. This year features, along with the usual array of arts, crafts and exhibits, a "KidVille" with amusement rides, a petting zoo and hands-on artistic activities; a main stage with such music acts as Big Nick and the Gila Monsters, Uncle Mike, Shining Star, C.C. Ryder Express, Todd Hart Band, Robert Street Band, Hoodoo Kings, Azz Izz, Walt Richardson, Chuck Hall, and Sistah Blue; and roving acts such as magician Shawn Greer and bagpipe band Spirit of Scotland among gobs of other fun and wonder. It's all scheduled to go down Friday, March 27; Saturday, March 28; and Sunday, March 29, on and around Mill Avenue. Daily hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with special events Friday and Saturday evenings from 6 p.m. to midnight at Hayden Square Amphitheatre, Fourth Street and Mill. Admission is free. 967-4877.
Canadian flutist and soprano saxophonist Jane Burnett, Arizona pianist Lisa Lemay, and a distaff jazz ensemble from Tucson-area middle-school students are featured in what is claimed to be the longest-running women's jazz show in the whole wide world, the "Primavera" Jazz Concert. Tucson Jazz Society hosts the show, the centerpiece of the Old Pueblo's 18th annual "Primavera: A Celebration of Women in the Arts" salute, at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 28, at Berger Performing Arts Center, located on the campus of the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and Blind at 1200 West Speedway. Tickets are $20, $15 for TJS members. 1-520-743-3399.
Before Wilbur and Orville found their wings, they were already enthusiasts of another vehicle, now prized as a means of exercise and a "nonpolluting mode of transportation" and celebrated during Valley Bike Week. Two-wheeler-related events start Saturday, March 28, with free valet bike parking at the Tempe Spring Festival of the Arts (see above), and continue through Saturday, April 4, at various Valley locales. Among them is Valley Art Theatre, 509 South Mill in Tempe (829-6668), which hosts the Bike Film Festival featuring Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. For a complete list of related activities or other information, call 262-7433.
Los Lobos, East L.A.'s wonderful wolves, are on the prowl again in support of their Warner Bros. disc Colossal Head. They take the stage at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 28, at Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 North Arizona Avenue. Tickets are $12, $16 and $22. 786-2680.
Texas "nuevo wavo" sovereign Joe "King" Carrasco, backed by his Crowns, cranks out his Mex-flavored boogie-rock at 8 p.m. Sunday, March 29, at the Rhythm Room, 1019 East Indian School, touring behind his Rio's Royal Texacali release Dia de los Muertos. The cover is $6. 265-4842.
The Danish class clown of classical music, Victor Borge, is scheduled to play one of his roughly 200 annual road shows at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 29, at the Sundome, 19403 R.H. Johnson Boulevard in Sun City West. The pianist, now around 90, debuted as a soloist with the Copenhagen Philharmonic in 1922, when he was 13. Tickets range from $9 to $26. 975-1900 (the 'dome), 503-5555 (Dillard's).
At least nine venerable dwellings constructed before or during the World War II era are involved in the 11th annual Coronado Historic Home Tour, an excursion throughout the Coronado Historic District, bounded by Thomas and McDowell roads and Seventh and 16th streets. Featured this year is the Snyder House, constructed in 1910, and the Augustana Lutheran Church, now a half-century old. The Arizona Lambda Car Club exhibits some vintage autos, and a trolley runs the route of the tour throughout the day. Greater Coronado Neighborhood Association hosts the tours, slated for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 29. Tickets ($7) and parking are available at Coronado Park, 12th Street and Palm Lane. 252-0173.
Turning 10 this year, The Tradition at Desert Mountain, a Senior PGA Tour stop, features a field that includes defending champ Gil Morgan, Jack Nicklaus, Hale Irwin, Chi Chi Rodriguez, and Ray Floyd (Arnold Palmer and Lee Trevino were unconfirmed at this writing). Practice rounds start at approximately 9 a.m. Monday, March 30; and the same time Tuesday, March 31; and Wednesday, April 1; tournament play starts with tee times at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, April 2, and continues through Sunday, April 5, on the Nicklaus-designed Cochise Course at Desert Mountain, Pima and Cave Creek roads in Scottsdale. Badges start at $100; daily tickets for practice rounds are $10. 595-4070, 503-5555.
Long referred to as "Jim Croce's son," A.J. Croce is entitled to his own renown. The singer/songwriter takes the stage at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 31, at the Cajun House, 7117 East Third Avenue in Scottsdale. Tickets are $5. 945-5150.
Unable to win taxpayer support for his ballpark shuttle-bus service, Jerry Colangelo now turns to the private sector, hosting the inaugural Bank One Ballpark Celebrity Cockfight Challenge. Valley celebs like Jake Plummer, Stevie Nicks, Kerri Strug, Alice Cooper, Grant Woods, Pat McMahon and Joe Arpaio strap the spurs onto fighting roosters to see who's most "game" on Wednesday, April 1, at Bank One Ballpark, 401 East Jefferson. Naked-heeled pittings begin at 7:30 p.m.; gaffed pittings at 9 p.m. Tickets for the black-tie event, if any are still available, start at $1,000 per table; proceeds benefit the Bank One Ballpark Shuttle Service Fund.
Also for April Fools' Day, you may want to learn at the knee of a specialist in the art of fooling Father Time, Tova Borgnine. Best known as the wife of Ernest, and second-best known as a hawker of anti-wrinkle methods, Madame Borgnine speaks and autographs her new book Being Married Happily Forever at a luncheon at 11:45 a.m. Wednesday, April 1, at the Wigwam Resort, 300 East Indian School in Litchfield Park. Watch Ernest in The Wild Bunch, and then say that the woman who's been married to him for 25 years doesn't know something we don't. Tickets are $35; proceeds benefit the Litchfield Park Library Children's Program. 935-3811.