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Weekend Picks: 'The Bald Soprano' is absurd in West Philly, the Bolshoi Ballet dances onscreen

What do this weekend


Christmas gift

The celebrated British conductor Bramwell Tovey returns in what has become a holiday tradition, leading the Philadelphia Orchestra in the program The Glorious Sound of Christmas. Joined by Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, the Philadelphians will perform traditional carols, plus works by Mendelssohn, Holst, Jester Hairston, Tchaikovsky, Leroy Anderson, and Tovey's "The Rittenhouse Carol." The program goes on at the Kimmel Center's Verizon Hall, Broad and Spruce Streets. Times: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $50 to $105. Information: 215-893-1999 .


Language lesson

The French playwright Eugène Ionesco came up with the idea for his 1950 absurdist classic The Bald Soprano while trying to learn English using a method of passive listening and copying sentences. Struck both by the banality and unassailable truth of phrases such as "The ceiling is up, and the floor is down," and the philosophical manner in which the characters in his lessons sought to convey these facts, Ionesco used this to frame a narrative about a London couple, their visiting friends, their maid, and her boyfriend the fire chief. As the mundane recitations and non sequiturs pile up, a streak of anxiety begins to undermine the quotidian scene. The Curio Theatre Company production ends its run this weekend at the Calvary Center for Culture and Community, 4740 Baltimore Ave. Times: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets: $15 to $25. Information: 215-525-1350.


Jazz time

For Rez Abbasi's Invocation, the inventive guitarist has gathered a stellar lineup  -- saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, pianist Vijay Iyer, bassist Johannes Weidenmüller, drummer Dan Weiss, and cellist Elizabeth Means -- to play a distinctive mix of jazz, rock, funk, blues, and South Indian Carnatic melodies. The sextet play at the Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine St. Time: 8 p.m. Tickets: $30. Information: 215-925-9914.


Holiday treat

It's a Christmas tradition, and one well worth repeating during the season, if only for Tchaikovsky's gorgeous score. Add in the Bolshoi Ballet and choreography by Yuri Grigorovich, and it's just about a perfect way to see The Nutcracker. A film of the Moscow production screens at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute, 824 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr. Time: 1 p.m. Tickets: $20; $10 students. Information: 610-527-9898.