The Jade Hairpin
Fletcher Opera Theater, Progress Energy Center—An ancient love story that trades in tears and smiles, The Jade Hairpin is at home in the world of Kunqu opera. Add the element of forbidden romance budding in the cloistered spaces of a Taoist temple, and things get interesting. Written by Ming Dynasty playwright Gao Lian, The Jade Hairpin concerns a young scholar, Pan Bizheng, and a Taoist nun, Chen Miaochang, who fall desperately in love and are tragically separated for the sake of social propriety.
Lian's delicate balance of love, mystery and secrecy weaves an intricate tale of flirtation, heartbreak and joy. The Triangle Area Chinese American Society of North Carolina sponsors the evening, which will include both English and Chinese subtitles. The lead performers are both specialists in the art of Kunqu: Meiti Yue is an actress who plays the young male roles, while Grace Wang, who plays the nun, is artistic director of the Society of Kunqu Arts. Accompanying the actors will be an orchestra of 10 musicians. For more information or to purchase tickets to the 7 p.m. show, visit www.nctacas.org. —Kathy Justice
Rebus Works—If you're looking for a weekend of free music, we recommend you start with Artsplosure's Main Stage at 2 p.m. Saturday in Moore Square: The betrothed Durham jazz duo of Eve Cornelious and Chip Crawford sing and play with a becoming mix of aplomb and grace, while Raleigh rock band Lonnie Walker, which hits said stage at 6 p.m., might push its mix of Pavement wiriness and country rollick into some sort of national spotlight by decade's end. Buckwheat Zydeco, who headlines Saturday, mixes zydeco and soul in a headstrong, dance-heavy swill. He's a spectacular entertainer. On Sunday, though, you can do much better by skipping Big Bad Voodoo Daddy or whatever and looking down on the rest of Raleigh from Boylan Heights art gallery Rebus Works. The third-annual Rebus Fest crams five outstanding locals into an afternoon: the aggression of The Loners and Dirty Little Heaters; the agile intricacy of Tin Star; Carolina's answer to Randy Newman, Kenny Roby; and the sauntering psych of Magic Babies. And don't worry about missing an opportunity to spring for art back in Moore Square: An excellent panoply of 15 area artists, including great Asheville painter Julie Armbruster and the Raleigh designers of the Captive Collective, will offer their pieces, too. David Eichenberger and Casey Porn's show, Epic Battle, enters its final two weeks today. Rebus Fest is free and runs through 7 p.m. Visit rebusworks.us. —Grayson Currin
Carolina Bluegrass Festival
Koka Booth Amphitheatre—The Carolina Bluegrass Festival features really good bluegrass. How good? Five of its seven acts have been nominated for a Grammy. The festival, then, works both as an intense intro-to-bluegrass course and an indulgent celebration of banjo picking, vocal harmonies and acoustic jams. The music starts at noon and goes until The Del McCoury Band wraps things up 10 hours later. Yup, Del McCoury, the 31-time International Bluegrass Music Association Award winner who played as one of Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys. Also on the bill: The Tony Rice Unit, Rhonda Vincent & the Rage, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, IIIrd Tyme Out, No Strings Attached and Al Batten & Bluegrass Reunion. Part of the proceeds benefit Stop Hunger Now. Pay $35-$50 for the day of music. —Andrew Ritchey