Teatro de Ciertos Habitantes

A time-tripping escapade across three centuries of culture and cruelty

PREVIEW What lengths will you go to for your art? If you're a castrato it's probably a sore point. For Mexico's internationally renowned experimental theater company, Teatro de Ciertos Habitantes (Certain Inhabitants Theatre), it's the beginning of a lush and lively investigation into the complexities and contradictions of cultural power and refinement. Drawing from a variety of theatrical styles and incorporating multidisciplinary performers, director Claudio Valdés Kuri and writer Jorge Kuri have crafted a time-tripping escapade across three centuries of culture and cruelty.

Siamese twins — a surgeon and opera columnist in a single ungainly suit and two Louis XIV wigs — lead a journey that begins in the decadent 18th century court society of the Old World, in the throes of a circle that fed ravenously on the castrated children of the poor and elevated them to superstardom by the preservation and cultivation of their fine prepubescent sopranos. With Monsters and Prodigies: A History of the Castrati, Teatro de Ciertos Habitantes the company makes its long-overdue Bay Area premiere, courtesy of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, in what promises to be a resonant, dramatic outing whose operatic airs — in Spanish and Italian with English supertitles — hit an unfaltering high C for cutting, carnivalesque satire.

TEATRO DE CIERTOS HABITANTES Thurs/5–Sat/7, 8 p.m., $25–$30. Novellus Theater, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 700 Howard, SF. (415) 978-2787, www.ybca.org

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