This Week's Hottest Events: Aida, Altered Barbie and Power to the Peaceful


Art: Altered Barbie Exhibition
Look at America's favorite plastic plaything in a whole new light—the 8th annual San Francisco Altered Barbie Exhibition is back. It's weird, it's warped, and it's definitely worth your time. Local artists from all over the Bay Area take this icon and turn her into not-so-everyday art reflective of our current society in an effort to create dialogue sparked by a doll. Check it out. Free; Thursday, 9/9 - Friday, 10/1; Shotwell 50 Art Space, 50 Shotwell St.,
Theater: Brother/Sister Trilogy
This Bay Area-wide premiere by internationally acclaimed newcomer Tarell Alvin McCraney, collectively presented by three local companies (Marin Theatre Company, Magic Theatre, A.C.T.), promises to be the most notable theater event of the season. Trust us—the New York Times says so. Even if theater is not your thing, you won't want to miss what everybody's talking about. Thursday 9/9 - Sunday 11/21; various venues,

Music: SF Opera's Opening Night of Aida
The grande dame of operas is coming to town for the SF Opera's 88th season. Giuseppe Verdi's Aida—the story of a kidnapped Ethiopian princess who is brought to Egypt and thrust into of of opera's most emotionally and morally complex love triangles—lends itself to extravagance, so come prepared for a dazzling spectacle. If you're an avid opera enthusiast, try to score tickets for opening night. If you can't splurge for a ticket, enjoy some free opera in Golden Gate Park on Sunday, 9/12, instead.$25-$320; Friday, 9/10 - Sunday, 12/5; War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave., 415-864-3330,

Music: Power to the Peaceful Festival
If you've never experienced Michael Franti's free, annual festival in Golden Gate Park, clear your calendar. The uniquely Bay Area event encompasses music, arts, activism and yoga. This time around, the lineup includes Crystal Bowersox, Rebelution, Rupa & The April Fishes, Michael Franti + Spearhead (of course), and many more. Set aside some time for meditation and downward dogs, plus a few minutes to learn about the nonprofits represented this year. Free; Friday, 9/10 - Sunday, 9/12; Golden Gate Park, between JFK and MLK Jr. drives around 25th Ave.,

Treat: Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival
They say that diamonds are a girl's best friend, but I'd say that's debatable. If, like me, chocolate floats your boat more than a little sparkle does, make haste to the 15th annual Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival this weekend. Indulge in light and dark delicacies of the cacao kind while you sample wine, watch chef demonstrations, and take part in an ice cream sundae eating contest (if you dare). And then, come Monday, you can hit the gym. $20 gets you 15 samples; Saturday, 9/11 - Sunday, 9/12; Ghirardelli Square, 900 North Point,

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