Susannah Samuel Ramey is back, in the opera that made Carlisle Floyd. Floyd, no fool, builds his operas not from the weird, large-scale drama of ancient classics but from the weird, large-scale drama of the Bible Belt. His Willie Stark (based on All the King's Men) and Of Mice and Men had all the best elements of the Southern gothic and grotesque, and Susannah is no different. Maybe because of this, Floyd's story of Susannah and the church elders, set in rural Tennessee, is one of the most performed operas in America. Superstar bass Ramey returns to Houston to play the Reverend Olin Blitch. Soprano Nancy Gustafson is Susannah. The all-American cast also includes tenors Mark Baker and Richard Markley. Opening tonight, 7:30 p.m. (Additional performances listed in Thrills, Theater.) Wortham Theater Center, Brown Theater, Texas at Smith, 227-ARTS, $27$150.
The Story of Burford, Category 5! It could happen -- we could have a category five hurricane that leaves our city inundated and with canals instead of freeways, just like Venice. Radio Music Theatre reprises The Story of Burford, a show that looks at the lighter side of disaster. (The girls of Rick's, as one might expect, turn out to be especially buoyant.) The show previews tonight, 8:30 p.m. Radio Music Theatre, 2623 Colquitt, 522-7722. Reservations required. $14.
Central fashion show The fashion design, merchandising and visual arts students of Houston Community College System Central present their 1996 collection. The show features designs from the Futuristic Bridal Gown competition and the Texas Natural Fibers contest. Proceeds go to a scholarship fund. 7 p.m. HCCS, Heinen Theater, 3517 Austin, 630-1890. $7; $5, students.
The Apotheosis of Corelli The Four Nations Ensemble, a onetime ensemble-in-residence at Lincoln Center, has been brought to town for the Houston Harpsichord Society's season ender. The program includes J.S. Bach, Francesco Geminiani and Antonio Vivaldi, and concludes with Francois Couperin's "Apotheose de Corelli." Ryan Brown (violin), Loretta O'Sullivan (cello) and Andrew Appel (harpsichord and fortepiano) are the spunky players in the Four Nations Ensemble. They're joined by guest violinist Katherine Kyme. 8 p.m. First Presbyterian Church, 5300 Main. For advance tickets, call 497-7382. $15; $12, seniors and students.
Media Darlings This production was made possible in part by funding from the Cultural Arts Council Houston/Harris County, and that shows how broad-minded (geographically speaking, anyway) CACHH is. This original play, written, directed by and starring Joey Berner, is about two brothers who go on a chicken restaurant and convenience store crime spree in Chicago. Media Darlings is presented with live music, Mexican restaurant music and television show theme music from Rick Mantler. It's 70 minutes long, with one intermission. Opening, 8 p.m. Zocalo Theater, 5223 Feagan, 541-1242. $5.
It's Five for Keep 5 Alive! Get up early and put on your work clothes; today's the day for the fifth annual cleanup for Fifth Ward and Denver Harbor neighborhoods. More than 1,000 volunteers and area residents are expected to do their part. In the past, hard workers have improved homes and parks by picking up more than one and a half million pounds of trash. 8:30 a.m.2:30 p.m. Headquarters for the cleanup is the Julie C. Hester House, 2020 Solo. For more information or to volunteer, call 621-7020.
Historic homes tour Visit the grand old mansions of Galveston on the 22nd annual historic homes tour, which takes you inside some glorious homes from the Gilded Age. Back then, there was nothing unseemly about ostentatious displays, and the monied merchants of 19th-century Galveston built some outstanding homes. Visitors can drive from home to home, or take a shuttle. 10 a.m.6 p.m. today; noon6 p.m. Sunday. The Strand Visitors Center, 2016 Strand, is a good place to start. For more information, call 280-3907. $15.
Adopt-A-Thon '96 Are you ready for a pet? Really? Last year, just five animal shelters of the dozens in Houston and Harris County had to put down 79,320 animals -- and that number doesn't include the thousands of lost or stray animals that were killed by cars. Those five shelters found homes for less than 15,722 animals. Such statistics prove that more people think they want pets than are actually prepared to care for them. If you do want a pet, this weekend is the time to get one -- the nationwide Adopt-A-Thon offers dogs and cats and puppies and kittens for next-to-nothing, and shots, deworming and spaying or neutering are included. Famous people such as Phil Donahue and Sarah Jessica Parker have lent their names to this cause -- they're encouraging people to adopt pets. But remember that famous people such as Phil Donahue and Sarah Jessica Parker are rich; they can hire help to care for their pets. The Adopt-A-Thon is a great opportunity, but think carefully before you take an animal into your family. Six area shelters -- Citizens for Animal Protection, City of Houston Bureau of Animal Regulation, Harris County Rabies/ Animal Control, Homeless Pet Placement League, Houston Humane Society and Houston SPCA -- will be participating in Adopt-A-Thon this weekend.
Battle of the Bugs There are a lot of reasons for loading up a van full of friends and heading out for this event -- live music and a spectacular array of boiled crawfish, for two -- but the most compelling reason is the Miss Mud-Bug pageant. While area restaurants compete in a "head-to-head" cook-off, one lucky lady will be crowned Miss Mud-Bug. The open crawfish boil, and the pageant, continue through Sunday. Gates open at 11 a.m. Garden in the Heights, 3926 Feagan, 629-3700. $7; $5, advance.
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