HALLELUJAH! Handel's Messiah is a Christmas tradition up there with paper hats, ham and too much pudding. For All-Star Messiah, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Chorus is joined by renowned tenor Ian Bostridge, soprano Karina Gauvin, counter-tenor Robin Blaze and bass-baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes for a rousing rendition of the popular oratorio.
Tonight 7pm, tomorrow 5pm, Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, city, $60-$145, 1300 182 183, mso.com.au
THE Australian Boys Choir supports choral excellence in boys with unchanged voices. The annual Christmas concert, a tradition for 73 years, offers a mixture of old and new carols and choral items. This year the boys will be joined by harpist Delyth Stafford to perform Benjamin Britten's A Ceremony of Carols, first sung by the Australian Boys Choir in 1967.
Tomorrow 3pm, Melbourne Recital Centre, corner Southbank Boulevard and Sturt Street, Southbank, $25-$35, 9699 3333, melbournerecital.com.au
THE third annual RISE Music and Arts Festival celebrates the creative talent of Melbourne's refugee and asylum seeker community. A line-up of refugee performers and supporters takes the main stage at Fed Square today, including Lady Lash and The Band of Gypsies, Hip Hop Massive Choir and the Ras Jahknow Band. The event is hosted by Aamer Rahman and Nazeem Hussain of comedy duo Fear Of A Brown Planet, and there will be food stalls and activities for kids.
Today 1pm-7pm, main square, Federation Square, city, free, 9639 8623, riserefugee.org
THE sankofa is an ancient Ghanaian symbol of a bird reaching its neck back towards its tail, said to symbolise taking from the past what is good and bringing it into the present. Sankofa, a new work from dancer/choreographer Appiah Annan, draws from West African performance traditions as well as contemporary Australian dance. In four shows this weekend, Sankofa features live music from Melbourne sound artist Dale Gorefinkel.
Today and tomorrow 6pm and 8.30pm, Malthouse Theatre, 113 Sturt Street, Southbank, $28-$36, 9685 5111, malthousetheatre.com.au
LARRY David's quick-tongued, freeloading houseguest in Curb Your Enthusiasm flees the nest (and his character) as JB Smoove (aka Leon Black) plays a series of stand-up shows around Australia this month. Smoove, real name Jerry Brooks, has worked as an actor, writer and stand-up comedian since the early '90s before getting his big break on David's highly improvised HBO show. Tonight's 8.30pm performance is sold out, but there are a few tickets left for the 5pm show.
Today 5pm, Thornbury Theatre, 859 High Street, Thornbury, $50.50, 1300 762 545, oztix.com.au
CLOSING today is Opera Australia's production of Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti's tragic opera Lucia di Lammermoor. An international co-production with the Italian Teatro La Fenice and American Houston Grand Opera, the show features atmospheric lighting and projections, period costumes by Liz Ascroft and an international cast. Performed in Italian with English subtitles.
Today 1pm, State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, city, $28.50-$250, 1300 182 183, artscentremelbourne.com.au
BOB and Helena have nothing in common, but a chance encounter in an Edinburgh wine bar leads to a drunken one-night stand, followed by a wild weekend together spending someone else's money. Written by Scottish playwright David Greig, with songs by Gordon McIntyre of indie band Ballboy, Midsummer treats the characters' modern anxieties with the time-tested remedies of love and adventure. The season ends today.
Today 4pm and 8pm, Red Stitch Actors Theatre, Rear 2 Chapel Street, St Kilda East, $20-$39, 9533 8083, redstitch.net
A MUSICAL journey through the ages and around the world, Genesis to Broadway begins with early songs of worship and folk music, takes in the flamenco rhythms of Spain and African beats before stopping in at Manhattan to celebrate musical theatre giants such as Gershwin, Hammerstein and Lloyd Webber. Written and directed by Frank Howson and featuring pianist/composer Warren Wills.
Today 2pm, 8pm, tomorrow 2pm, 6.30pm, Chapel off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran, $38-$46, 8290 7000, chapeloffchapel.com.au
AUSTRALIAN author and playwright Barry Oakley's Music follows Jack, a dying man given months to live, as he indulges in music, morphine and whisky. A bittersweet musing on life, death and relationships, Music is directed by Aidan Fennessy and stars Richard Piper and Janet Andrewartha as Jack's wife Margie. One week left until the season winds up next Saturday.
Today 4pm and 8.30pm, Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, city, $33-$99, 1300 182 183, mtc.com.au
A MORE appealing antipodean musical pairing is difficult to imagine. National institution Paul Kelly and proud Kiwi Neil Finn join forces for a series of concerts early next year, drawing from their combined back catalogues as well as a few new songs. They'll be joined onstage by Finn's son Elroy on drums and Kelly's nephew Dan on guitar.
February 16-20, Palais Theatre, Lower Esplanade, St Kilda, $99.90-$119.90, 136 100, ticketmaster.com.au
JOHN Bell stars as Falstaff in Bell Shakespeare's Henry 4 next year. Following his father's daring campaign for the English monarchy, Prince Hal, the future King Henry V, descends into debauchery under the wing of Falstaff before an attempt to overthrow the monarchy drags him into a political adventure. Directed by John Bell with Damien Ryan, the production attempts to transport audiences back to the raucous atmosphere of Shakespeare's Globe.
Feb 23-May 26, Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, city, $45-$72, 1300 182 183, artscentremelbourne.com.au
AS TRACY Jordan, he's the lovable and volatile star of the Emmy-winning TGS with Tracy Jordan. As the real Tracy Morgan, he's the lovable and volatile star of the Emmy-winning NBC show 30 Rock, which he graduated to after seven years on Saturday Night Live (the show the fictional TGS is ostensibly based on) and his own series The Tracy Morgan Show. The outspoken enigma (and author of the memoir I Am The New Black) appears live in April.
April 13, Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, city, $69.90, 1300 182 183, artscentremelbourne.com.au